Living Legend: Robin Knox-Johnston


Sound of waves, childish enthusiasm, thirst for discovery are not alien to those people who decided to devote their lives to the sea. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is one of the personalities, who became a living legend and an example to be followed by young yachtsmen.

A total of 65 people sailed around the world non-stop. A lot of yachtsmen tried to do it and many of them could only dream of doing it.

Sir Knox-Johnston became famous when in 1969 the sailor managed to complete a single-handed non-stop round-the-world sailing race called the Golden Globe.  The regatta was held in the framework of the competition established by the English newspaper Sunday Times.

In 1968 on different days and from different ports dozens of single sailed yachtsmen started their voyage, but only one of them returned to the port of departure, having fulfilled all the conditions of the most difficult competition.

It was 30-year-old Englishman Robin Knox-Johnston. He had served in the Merchant Navy for 8 years and was an officer of the Royal Naval Reserve. His yacht Suhaili had been built several years ago at a shipyard in India. The yacht, however, was seaworthy and safe but wasn’t as highspeed as the ships Johnston’s rivals had.

When he was 5 years old, he made his first boat of a cardboard box by himself that instantly went to the bottom as soon as the boy stepped “onboard”.

On 14 June 1968 Robin Knox-Johnston left Falmouth in his 9-meter Suhaili, the smallest yacht taking part in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. Despite the loss of the self-steering gear off the coast of Australia, he could go around Cape Horn 20 days before his main rival, Bernard Moitessier, who sailed to Tahiti. The other seven members abandoned the race at different stages.

Indeed, one should have a truly indomitable optimism and courage to go on such a dangerous path, due to a brief and strict regulations and the necessary means. For the stay at sea for two hundred and fifty days (and this is a minimum amount of time). It was necessary to take 500 kilograms of food and 250 liters of fresh water. You need to stock up on a variety of clothes, medicines and a set of different equipment. We can not forget about 100 liters of fuel for cooking hot food, nor about the whole arsenal of equipment not to mention life-saving appliances. It is hard to imagine the costs associated with preparations for sailing.

On 22 April 1969 after passing the distance in 313 days he became the first man in the world to go around the world without stopping. Johnston gave his prize money (£5,000) to the family of Donald Crowhurst, who committed suicide after attempting to falsify the results of his voyage.

For his lifetime achievement he was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). And the Queen of England personally knighted him.

Today it’s unlikely that anyone will be surprised by such a round-the-world trip. But without satellite phones, accurate weather forecasts, waterproof clothes, without a team of specialists and assistants and even the belief that this journey is possible, it is a heroic act.