Sir Robin Weighs In Page 4 - Sail Magazine

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:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
RKJint3

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

Stearns Photo

Racing the Solo Mac for a Cause

There are plenty of reasons to do a Chicago-Mac race, and Rich Stearns, who has done literally dozen of ‘em should know. This year, though, he’s doing the Solo-Mac for an especially important reason: to help those with prostate cancer.“Two years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comRafting dangerOne unseen danger when sailing yachts lie alongside one another for a convivial night is that if they happen roll to a wash or begin to move in an unexpected sea, the spreaders can clash ...read more

180615-01 Lead

A Dramatic Comeback in the Volvo

After winning three of the last four legs in the Volvo Ocean Race (and coming in second in the fourth), Dutch-flagged Brunel is now tied for first overall with Spanish-flagged Mapfre and Chinese-flagged Dongfeng following the completion of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to ...read more

MFS-5-2018-Propan-SP02

Tohatsu LPG-powered 5hp Propane Motor

Gassing it UpTired of ethanol-induced fuel issues? Say goodbye to gasoline. Japanese outboard maker Tohatsu has introduced an LPG-powered 5hp kicker that hooks up to a propane tank for hours of stress-free running. Available in short-, long- or ultra-long-shaft versions, the ...read more

180612-01 Landing lead

Painful Sailing in Volvo Leg 10

It’s looking to be a case of feast or famine for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean fleet as it continues the epic struggle that has been Leg 10, with it having been all famine thus far. Painful is the only word to describe the light-air start in Cardiff, Wales, on June 10, as the 11-boat ...read more

01-13_07_180304_JRE_03695_4605

Tips From the Boatyard

Within the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard sits a communal sail loft which provides service and repairs for all seven teams sailing in the 2017-18 edition of the race. The sail loft employs only five sailmakers who look after 56 sails in each stopover. If you’re thinking, “wow, these ...read more

sailCarwBasicsJuly18

Sail Care for Cruisers

Taking care of your canvas doesn’t just save you money, it’s central to good seamanship  Knowing how to take care of your sails and how to repair them while at sea is an important part of overall seamanship. The last thing any sailor needs is to get caught on a lee shore with ...read more

Ship-container-2048

The Danger of a Collision Offshore

This almost happened to me once. I was sailing singlehanded between Bermuda and St. Martin one fall, and one night happened to be on deck looking around at just the right time. The moon was out, the sky was clear and visibility was good. Still, when I thought I saw a large ...read more