Robin Knox-Johnston sailed into Portsmouth on Saturday returning to British shores after making history in the Velux 5-Oceans 14/5/07
Solo sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston sailed into Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth on Saturday returning to British shores after making history in the Velux 5-Oceans round the world yacht race. Sir Robin was escorted from the Needles by the Clipper Round the World Race Fleet, the Royal Navy, the Queens Harbour Master and a large flotilla of spectator boats.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston become the oldest person to have completed this classic race and his natural ability, determination and perseverance saw him beat the world’s best skippers and left him fighting for a podium position right till the end, knocking 153 days of his original record of 312 days. He completed the gruelling 30,000-mile race last week in Bilbao (Basque Country, Spain) after 159 days at sea and finished a respectable fourth position overall in a race which saw his protégé Alex Thomson abandon ship and British rival, Mike Golding, retire due to dismasting.
The scenes were reminiscent of when Sir Robin Knox-Johnston arrived in Falmouth in 1969 after becoming a household name by being the first person to sail non-stop around the world in the 1968-69 Sunday Times Golden Globe. Almost 40 years later, the inspirational yachtsman made history again last week as he completed his second solo circumnavigation of the planet at the young age of 68. The crowds joined him on the Solent to celebrate his monumental achievement in completing ‘The Ultimate Solo Challenge’ in his 60ft yacht Saga Insurance. He was also given an 11-gun salute from the Royal Yacht Squadron and greeted on the dock by hundreds of supports, his daughter and her five grandchildren and many other members of friends and family.
Speaking from the dockside, Knox-Johnston commented: “I have had a wonderful reception all the along the coast and into Portsmouth. It is as special as when I completed the Golden Globe and brings back wonderful memories. The VElux 5-Oceans is a classic event and I achieved my goal in solo circumnavigating the planet and have really enjoyed being back on the open seas again. I do not believe that life stops when you reach 65 and my yacht, Saga Insurance, has illustrated that if we set our mind to a task, nothing is impossible (particularly with a drop of Old Pulteney whisky along the way!).
“I am very touched that so many people have come out on the water to see my arrival back to the UK. I have just been given a bottle of whisky by the Commander Scott Verney, captain of HMS Edinburgh. He offered me a bottle when we made a rendezvous off the Falkland Islands; at the time I had to decline the kind offer but I am now more than happy to accept, so long as it’s Old Pulteney. It is good to be home.”
After sailing round the world in 1969 Sir Robin vowed to help others achieve extraordinary things through sailing. Ten years ago he set up Clipper Ventures which to date has run six successful round the world races, sailing 1.5 million miles with 1,500 men and women of all ages and experience on board the Clipper fleet.
Tributes have come flooding in since Sir Robin finished the race on Friday, 4 May. Close friend Roger Taylor, the drummer from iconic band Queen, was also on dock to offer his personal congratulations.