Updated:
Original:

Knox-Johnston Back in the Solo Saddle

Shorthanded sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston recently announced he is coming out of solo-sailing retirement to compete in this fall’s Route Du Rhum challenge, from Saint Malo, France, to Guadeloupe aboard the Open 60 Grey Power—at the ripe old (young?) age of 75.

Shorthanded sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston recently announced he is coming out of solo-sailing retirement to compete in this fall’s Route Du Rhum challenge, from Saint Malo, France, to Guadeloupe aboard the Open 60 Grey Power—at the ripe old (young?) age of 75.

The last time Knox-Johnston—winner of the 1968-69 Golden Globe race and the first person to circumnavigate nonstop and alone—did the 3,500 mile race was in 1982, aboard the 70-foot catamaran Olympus.

Held every four years, this year’s Route Du Rhum has already attracted around 80 entries, and as always will see the fleet starting out onto the stormy November waters of the Bay of Biscay on its way to the Caribbean. We caught up with Knox-Johnston to get his thoughts on this latest foray into offshore racing.

SAIL: What prompted you to go offshore alone again after so many years?

RKJ: Participating in the 2013 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race reminded me how much I enjoy the excitement of an ocean race. Solo sailing is where I feel most at home. No one else can benefit you or let you down. It is all in my hands.

SAIL: How does solo racing today compare to solo racing in years past?

RKJ: It’s like comparing the era of the biplane with the Concorde. You don’t really need to “navigate” these days, even with GPS. What you need to be able to do is interpret the weather forecasts in the interest of finding the fastest route, but there are even programs that do that for you.

SAIL: Have you changed your sailing style or approach to ocean racing with the passage of the years?

RKJ: I am not sure what is meant by sailing style. I race as I always race, as fast as I think is sensible for the prevailing conditions. Perhaps a little faster!

SAIL: Wisdom vs. the strength and vitality of youth: no contest?

RKJ: Solo sailing is more about mental attitude than strength, look at the very competitive ladies who participate in solo races.

1968-69

Won the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race aboard the 32-foot ketch Suhaili

1970

Won the two-handed Round Britain Race with Leslie Williams on Ocean Spirit (the first of 7 Round-Britain wins)

1971

Takes line honors in the fully crewed Cape Town to Rio Race aboard Ocean Spirit

1977

Co-skipper of the maxi Heath’s Condor in the Whitbread Round the World Race

1994

Co-skipper, with Peter Blake, of the Jules Verne Trophy winning maxi-catamaran Enza

2006-07

Solo circumnavigates a second time aboard the Open 60 SAGA Insurance as part of the VELUX 5 Oceans Race

Photos courtesy of Clipper Ventures PLC

Related

01-LEAD-IMG_1002

Cyclone Season in Polynesia

Thinking of spending cyclone season in the South Pacific? Plenty of sailors take the chance every year, with the recent travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic making this an especially popular option in 2020. Cyclone season in this part of the world runs from November to ...read more

01b-LEAD-INSET-Kirby-IMG_0077

Eight Bells: Bruce Kirby, Creator of the Laser

With 2021 drawing to a close, Laser sailors find themselves reflecting on both their class’s 50th anniversary and the passing of the man who made it all possible: Canadian designer, sailor and sailing journalist, Bruce Kirby. Kirby, who died this past July at the age of 92, ...read more

2021ROLEXIC_DF_0061

Southern Yacht Club Wins Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup

Newport, R.I. -- The 7th Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup wrapped up on Saturday after five days of highly competitive racing in an international fleet that saw the Southern Yacht Club (SYC) of New Orleans best a fleet of 19 teams from Europe, Canada, Bermuda and ...read more

DUFOUR-530_NAVIGATION_009

Boat Review: Dufour 530

Dufour Yachts seems to have shifted its strategy with the introduction of the new 530. Previously, the French builder maintained two lines: Performance and Grand Large, with the latter targeted at the cruising crowd. With the Dufour 530, however, Dufour decided to combine the ...read more

210913-11HRT-SKIPPER-PORTRAITS-VC-122

11th Hour Christens Two IMOCAs, Hits a Snag

This week has been a big one for the American-founded, sustainability-centric ocean racing team 11th Hour Racing. In addition to christening their two new boats, the team also took them out for a quick test ride—against some of the most intense IMOCA 60 skippers in the world. ...read more

01-LEAD-DSCF3091

Clewless in the Pacific

Squalls are well known to sailors who cruise the middle Latitudes. Eventually, you become complacent to their bluster. But squalls vary in magnitude, and while crossing from Tahiti to Oahu, our 47ft Custom Stevens sloop paid the price for carrying too much canvass as we were ...read more

Nigel

SAIL’s Nigel Calder Talks Electrical Systems at Trawlerfest Baltimore

At the upcoming Trawlerfest Baltimore, set for Sept. 29-Oct. 3, SAIL magazine regular contributor Nigel Calder will give the low down on electrical systems as part of the show’s seminar series.  The talk will be Saturday, October 2 at 9am. Electrical systems are now the number ...read more

5ae5b8ce-3113-4236-927b-f795be4ae091

Bitter End Yacht Club Announces Reopening

Four years after being decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Bitter End Yacht Club is set to reopen for the Winter 2022 season. Hailed as one of the best anchorages in the Caribbean and built by sailors, for sailors, this island outpost in the BVI has been a favorite with ...read more