Sir Robin Knox-Johnston(1)(1) The Sir Peter Blake Trust Collection / Alan Sefton. Photo Henri Thibault © Agence DPPI is the first person to sail single handed and non-stop around the world. The sole finisher out of nine entrants, he crossed the finish line of the Sunday Times Golden Globe race, off Falmouth, UK, on 22 April 1969, after 312 days at sea.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was born on the 17th March 1939, in Putney, London. The eldest of 4 brothers, he attended school at Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, the same school as Bill Tilman and Graham Greene. His main interests were long running, swimming and boxing. Not very good at team sports, indeed, he chose tennis as opposed to cricket, but usually slipped away to his grandparents house to work on a 1927 Austin 7 car instead of either.
Sir Robin went to sea in the Merchant Navy in 1957 as a Deck officer with the British India Steam Navigation Company, gaining his Master’s Certificate in 1965.
Following his Golden Globe solo circumnavigation in 1969, Sir Robin skippered Condor to Line Honours in two legs of the 1977-1978 Whitbread Race; co-skippered Enza New Zealand with the late Peter Blake to take the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994 for the fastest circumnavigation of the world; and completed the Velux 5 Oceans solo round the world race in fourth position in 2006-2007 at the age of 68.
In 1992 “RKJ” was invited to become President of the Sail Training Association, a youth development organisation which operated two topsail schooners “Sir Winston Churchill” and “Malcolm Miller” and also organised the annual Tall Ships races. Before he retired in 2001 £11 million had been raised to replace these two vessels with two larger brigs “Prince William” and “Stavros Niarchos”
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was knighted in 1995 and has been the UK’s Yachtsman of the Year four times. He was International Sailing Federation (ISAF) sailor of the Year with Peter Blake in 1994 and in 2007 was one of the first six inductees into the ISAF Hall of Fame.
He served as a Trustee of the National Maritime Museum, at Greenwich from 1993 until 2003, and on the Sports Lottery Panel and Sport England Council from 1996 until 2002. He is currently President of the Little Ship Club and the Cruising Association and Chairman of Clipper Ventures plc.
In 1996 Sir Robin Knox-Johnston created the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to offer people from all walks of life and ages the experience of ocean racing together with the opportunity of completing a circumnavigation.
He became the Yachting Journalists’Association’s British Yachtsman of the Year for the fourth time, in 2015.
The YJA awarded 75 years old Sir Robin with the honour following his podium place in French solo classic the Route du Rhum in November 2014, as he had made a return to competitive solo ocean racing after competing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with one of his Clipper Race crews in 2013.
In 2015, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston also became the Vice Chairman of the Association Tour du Monde en 80 Jours, which supports the Jules Verne Trophy.