Sir Robin Knox-Johnston starts solo Transatlantic race, Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe

02 November 2014

Clipper Race founder and chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, 75, has started Transatlantic solo race the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, 32 years after last competing in the French classic race.

The British adventurer and first ever man to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1968/69,is racing on his Open 60, Grey Power in the Rhum class.

Sir Robin set off on the 3,542 mile contest in Saint-Malo, France in south/south westerly winds of 15-20 knots and conditions race organisers described as “disturbed”. Two cold fronts with winds of 30 knots and gusts of 40 to 45 knots are predicted to arrive later on Sunday with an agitated sea state making for a difficult first night.

Sir Robin is making a return to competitive ocean racing after becoming jealous of watching his Clipper Race crews setting off at the start of each leg during their circumnavigation and wishing he was racing himself.

Sir Robin said:Following the latest weather forecast I have put in the third reef and will use my storm jib for the first day. I will take it slow as far as Cap Finistere and then I will start to race properly. I don’t want to risk injury to myself or damage to my boat.

“The first couple of days are going to be sleepless, getting past Ushant and the Bay of Biscay with the shipping and fishing boats.

“I feel exactly the same as when I last did the Route du Rhum in 1982. In my head, I am 48. If you think young, you feel young.

I worked very hard on the Clipper Race over the last year and it’s time for my holidays now. The sea is where I feel most at home. I am just not ready to stop racing yet, and why should I?”

Sir Robin also thanked supporters from around the world who have wished him luck during the last week.

Around 2 million spectators visited the race village during the week, and Sir Robin was also given the medal of the City of Saint Malo in recognition of his ‘exceptional’ career in sailing.

“The whole atmosphere here has been very friendly, and it has been great to catch up with so many old friends, including a surprise visit from previous Route du Rhum winners Florence Arthaud, Mike Birch and Titouan Lamazou yesterday,” added Sir Robin.

“Now I just can’t wait to start racing.”

Sir Robin is racing against 19 other sailors in his class, and 90 other skippers in total over five classes.

He is racing in the same boat he sailed round the world in during the 2006/7 Velux Five Oceans Race aged 68.

He last competed in the Route du Rhum in 1982, on the 70-foot catamaran Sea Falcon, when he finished in 14th position.

You can track Sir Robin and Grey Power here on the official race tracker.

It will update and every six minutes at the start/finish and every hour during the rest of the race.

The Clipper Race will be posting his blogs on the site as well.

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