14 June sees 50 years to the day since Institute Fellow Sir Robin Knox-Johnson set out from Falmouth in his yacht ‘Suhaili’ on his solo round-the-world endeavour.
This week has seen him back at his departure point, Falmouth, to kick off anniversary celebrations of his endeavour and meet many of the competitors in this year's Golden Globe race, with whom he joked “I’ve been warned not to take part. I've done it 4 times now, but I don't think I'll be tempted to follow them this year."
On 14 June 1968, Sir Robin set out at the start of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in an attempt to become the first man to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigation. He commented this week "There wasn't even a marina when I was last here, I was out on a mooring. Falmouth hadn't developed as a sailing centre very much at that time. Now, 50 years on, just look at it!"
Sir Robin’s epic voyage took 312 days, with little communication with the outside world. His only contact medium, the radio, had malfunctioned within 2 months, and it wasn’t until he was off the shores of New Zealand that he discovered that he was in the lead - and that only 4 of the 9 participants were still in the race. His next contact with the outside world was off the Azores, where he gave Falmouth an ETA ‘within 2 weeks’.
And on 22 April 1969, Sir Robin entered Falmouth Harbour as the sole finisher and hero - leaving behind him a trail of broken boats and spirits.
In all, 18 sailors are due to enter this year's Golden Globe Race. Celebrations start with a Parade of Sail around Falmouth Harbour, led by Sir Robin in Suhaili - at 1030 BST on 14 June.
Sir Robin concluded ”I’m enjoying being in Falmouth, as it's going back to the days of adventure sailing with the Golden Globe race . . and they're doing it on boats that the average person can buy; they probably don't cost any more than a caravan."