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.
Author:
Publish date:
 Knox-Johnston at the helm of his Open 60 prior to its conversion to Grey Power livery

Knox-Johnston at the helm of his Open 60 prior to its conversion to Grey Power livery

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.

 Knox-Johnston aboard Suhali near the end of the 1968-69 Golden Globe race

Knox-Johnston aboard Suhali near the end of the 1968-69 Golden Globe race

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

IMG_0173

Electronic “Flares” for Cruisers

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boats operating in coastal waters or on the high seas carry a selection of visual distress signals. Almost invariably, such signals include the pyrotechnic type, either handheld or fired from a flare pistol, but surely there are ...read more

M2-HOOK-TOP-AND-CHAIN-1

Gear: M2 Chain Hook from Mantus

Stay Hooked Chain hooks on anchor snubber lines tend to fall off when you least want them to. Not so this latest example from Mantus. The M2 Chain Hook is secured to the chain by a simple elastic strap, so it won’t come off when the snubber loosens. Made from corrosion-resistant ...read more

shutterstock_349918991

Successful Surf Landings with Wheels

“Ready to take the dink ashore?” Never had those words invoked as much anxiety as when my husband, Jeff, and I first moved to the Pacific Coast. Why? Because we had exactly zero experience with dinghy surf landings, and the possibility of being flipped upside down along with our ...read more

Sail2010_597

How to: Find Good Values on Charter Vacations

So, you want to find a great deal on your next charter vacation? Sure, you can scour the internet, hope for Black Friday deals or ask friends. But an even better way to find good prices on charter boats is to go to a boat show. Not only do charter companies like The Moorings, ...read more

leadphoto

Know How: Dinghy Modification

The rigmarole of stretching a cover over a dinghy in choppy water prior to hoisting it on davits can become a very wet business if you’re not careful. Leaning right over either end, trying to stretch a cover over the bow and stern pods can quite easily result in a head-first dip ...read more

25980

Catnapped Aboard a Racing Multihull

It was after midnight when I realized my daysail with Tony Bullimore aboard his giant record-breaking catamaran, Team Legato, was not going to plan. The big cat was en route for a December dash from England across the Bay of Biscay to Barcelona and the start of a drag race ...read more