The following obituary was published in the New Zealand Herald today

The following obituary was published in the New Zealand Herald today

Peter Blake was born in Auckland on 1 October 1948. As a child, he attended Takapuna Grammar School but his abiding passions were always boats and boating. He was to become New Zealand’s most successful sailor and a legend in the sail racing world.

With his lucky red socks and blonde, 70s-style moustache, Blake unified a nation when he won yachting’s premier trophy, the America’s Cup. In 1995, New Zealand became only the second country in 145 years to take the prestigious trophy from the American defenders.

Last year, in his hometown of Auckland, Blake and Team New Zealand went one better, becoming the first non-American team to retain the America’s Cup.

During the successful America’s Cup challenge in 1995 Blake, who was also the mainsail trimmer, wore the same pair of red socks throughout as Team New Zealand went through the campaign winning all but one of their races (the only race they lost was when Blake was rested). New Zealand swept aside Team Dennis Connor of the USA in the America’s Cup final 5-0.

Before the final, team sponsors manufactured tens of thousands of pairs of Blake’s lucky red socks which sold out in days in New Zealand.

Upon the team’s return hundreds of thousands jammed the main streets of Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland to welcome the cup to New Zealand.

Before his involvement in the America’s Cup Blake was best known for his ocean racing exploits, competing in five round-the-world races, culminating in his victory in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World race aboard Steinlager II.

Known for his meticulous planning, Blake did without the creature comforts normally associated with ocean racing yachts of the time, stripping his double-masted ketch down to a pure racing machine. Blake’s yacht, despite gear failures and dismastings, won all six legs of the race to take line, handicap and overall honours.

One of the most thrilling legs was when he battled with fellow New Zealander and former crew mate Grant Dalton on Fisher and Paykel as the pair raced down the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island for Blake to pip his compatriot by only six minutes into their home port of Auckland.

Blake’s first experience of America’s Cup racing was in 1992 when New Zealand lost the challenger finals to Raul Gardini’s Italian Il Moro syndicate.

He then won the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994 by setting the fastest time around the world of 74 days 22 hours 17 minutes 22 seconds on catamaran ENZA.

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991, and was probably as recognisable in his homeland as Mount Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary, but Blake was always relaxed and understated.

Blake, aged 53 and twice a New Zealand Sportsman of the Year, left sail racing behind in August 2000 and took over the old Jacques Cousteau boat Antarctic Explorer, renaming her Seamaster.

His visit to the Amazon onboard Seamaster was part of a five-year programme aimed at assessing the true impact of pollution and global warming. His intention was to raise international awareness of the area’s importance to the world environment.

He leaves his wife Pippa and two children, Sarah-Jane and James.

Sir Peter Blake: 1 October 1948 – 6 December 2001