Sir Robin Weighs In Page 4

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is sitting in the lobby of New York’s Algonquin Hotel. He's in town to receive an award from the Cruising Club of America, and he's telling me a story about his encounter with the American astronaut Buzz Aldrin.“He’s a marvelous man, brilliant,” Sir Robin says. “You meet him and you realize that this man was born to be an astronaut. Everything about him, from the
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Understanding this, I ask Knox-Johnston about the current crop of circumnavigators grabbing the headlines. In 2009, two 17-year-olds, American Zac Sunderland and Brit Mike Perham, completed solo voyages. Currently, two 16-year-olds, Sunderland's younger sister Abby and Australian Jessica Watson, are making voyages of their own. In October 2009, a Danish 14-year-old attempted the same, but a court prohibited it and put her under state supervision until July of 2010, when she claims she'll set sail once again.

When I bring up the fact that the World Sailing Speed Record Council recently announced the discontinuation of the award for the youngest and oldest record holders, Knox-Johnston’s face reflects both the seasoned veteran and the popular grandfather.

“I have certain concerns,” he says, pausing. “My concern is that everyone ages differently. Some 16-year-olds are as mature as 30-year-olds. But others, well, their parents might be pushing them. And if we start having records for the youngest, I guarantee you it will end in tears.”

Knox-Johnston’s father is credited as being the impetus in his own voyage, when one morning in March of 1967, he subtly hinted to his son that a nonstop circumnavigation was “about all there’s left to do now, isn’t it?” But Knox-Johnston was no teenager at the time, having already put in plenty of sea time as an officer in the merchant navy.

It’s this kind of experience that Knox-Johnston says is imperative to a successful voyage. “During storms and such, you have to draw on reserves. And those reserves are drawn from experience. Only the individual understands this, and my concern is that at ages 13 and 14, children don’t truly understand this for themselves. If their parents say to them ‘you’ve got to do this because I told you to,’ well, at that age, they tend to listen to their parents.”

At 71, Knox-Johnston is clearly not ready to disappear into retirement. The Velux 5 Oceans Race and Clipper Ventures are in full swing, with Knox-Johnston acting as a tireless media liaison. He makes frequent trips to Asia to cultivate the growing sailing presence there, and he is involved with both the China Sea Race and the Sydney Hobart Race. He complains of jet lag during our interview, although in the 40 years since his Globe Challenge victory he’s undoubtedly gotten used to it.

But Knox-Johnston plans on returning home in many senses, sometime, when the adventures start winding down and his classroom is filled with his grandchildren. Smiling, he tells me about Suhaili, the 32-foot ketch he sailed around the world back in 1968, and how he has plans for her future. In 1997 she was given to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, but he bought her back in 2002 when he realized the controlled atmosphere was shrinking her planking. Over the last eight years he’s been slowly refitting her with a mind toward short cruises around the waters where he grew up.

For as much sailing as he’s done in international waters, and for as much as he’s brought to the sport, there is something beautiful about imagining Knox-Johnston finishing his time on the water with the boat that got him started. But something about the restlessness in his eyes as he describes his boat leads me to believe that he’s not planning on relaxing.

Related

210115-AC36

Prada Cup: Brits Take First Two Races

Who saw that coming? After getting skunked in December, INEOS Team UK has swept the first two races in the Prada Cup elimination series of the 36th America’s Cup  Racing took place on racecourse “C,” sheltered between Auckland’s North Head and Bastion Point to take advantage of ...read more

ac-2048x

Hutchinson: 36th America’s Cup will be a Close On

On the eve of the Prada Cup challenger series, the official start of the 36th America’s Cup, New York Yacht Club American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson says it’s anyone’s game. "As we've seen in the last week, everyone's gotten faster," said Hutchinson said at the event’s ...read more

Episode1_Thumbnail4_00000_00000_00000_00000

Sailing Docuseries Released Online

Endless Media's Reaching Reality is the story of three friends, a 24-foot sailboat and 1,200 miles. With candor and humor, this series proves that you don't need to be an expert or a millionaire to cast off on the journey of a lifetime. Produced by Emmy-award winner Barry ...read more

01-LEAD-nder-sail-3

Prepping for a Transatlantic

Growing up on the coast of northern England, I dreamed about crossing oceans on my own boat. Like most of us, though, education, a family and a career took precedence, and before I knew it, we had mortgages, young children and endless work obligations. We also became landlocked, ...read more

210111-Vendee

Vendée Update: Josche Forced to Abandon

A week ago, the canting keel on Isabelle Jocshe's IMOCA 60, MACSF, failed. She managed a jury rig with a replacement ram, which held the keel centerline and allowed her to keep sailing, but with a major hit to her speed potential. Jocshe had been in 8th at the time and remained ...read more

rudder

Vendee Update: Emergency Rudder Replacement

A devastated Hare talks about the breakage Pip Hare (Medallia) is back in the game after an emergency rudder repair deep in the Southern Ocean. “Every part of my body aches. I have bloody knuckles on every finger, bruises all down my legs and muscles I didn't know I had that ...read more

Oracle-RBYACFEVD3_2870

PRADA Cup Pairings Announced

The schedule for the PRADA Cup has been revealed as a multitiered extravaganza featuring over a month of racing, stretching from January 15 through February 22. First, the three teams—American Magic, INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli—will face off in a 12-race, six-day ...read more

01-LEAD-Opener-ETNZ1_-106_silo

The 36th America's Cup

A Superbowl is a Superbowl, and a World Series is a World Series. Sure, the names of the players and the teams change from year-to-year, but otherwise, the game pretty much remains the same. Not so the America’s Cup. Still, in many ways a hot mess left over from the days of Queen ...read more