Suhaili 50 Falmouth, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston Returns to Visit Falmouth
Ever had an idea that grows and builds to become an obsession? Robin Knox-Johnston did, and on June 14th 1968 (a Friday, considered amongst sailors’ as an unlucky day to start a voyage!), he climbed aboard his 32 foot Bermudan Ketch, ‘Suhaili’, and recovering from illness (jaundice), with no sponsorship, crew, or certainty that the yacht would even make it, Robin set sail from Falmouth. His obsession being, to become the first person to sail solo, 30,000 miles around the globe, non-stop.
In 1967 Sir Francis Chichester circumnavigated the globe, only stopping once in Australia for a major refit, making him the first person to complete the longest ‘non-stop’ voyage. It was this that inspired Robin to take on the only great circumnavigation challenge left, to sail solo and entirely non-stop.
9 entrants took part, in an attempt to attain the purpose created, Sunday Times Golden Globe Trophy, for the first person to sail single handed and non-stop around the globe, and a £5.000 prize fund, for the fastest time. The rules were, entrants must set sail solo from anywhere in the British isles between June 1st and October 31st 1968, and return to the same port. Robin was the 3rd to depart.
For over 10 months, Robin battled through just about every weather condition imaginable, Suhaili suffered polluted water tanks, leaking seams, ripped sails, loss of self steering and for 8.5 months of the journey Robin sailed with no radio. It wasn’t until 1,200 nautical miles from home that a tanker sighted him using his signal lamp, this must have been a great relief for everyone wondering where he was after all this time.
On April 22nd 1969, Robin sailed back into Falmouth, and not only became the first person to circumnavigate the globe solo, but he also completed it in the fastest time, he donated the 5,000 prize to fellow competitor Donald Crowhursts family, after Crowhurst committed suicide during the race.
In the years that followed Robin has continued to compete, including completing three more circumnavigations. He has been awarded a CBE and received a knighthood in 1969 and now quite rightly, is known as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
For several years, one of Britains most famous yachts was on display at the National Maritime Museum Greenwich, but the controlled atmosphere was having a detrimental effect on her planking. Sir Robin made the decision to remove her from the museum in 2002, and spent the next few years restoring her back to her original form. Sir Robin and Suhaili have since returned to racing together!
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe Race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Suhaili will return to Falmouth, along with the Golden Globe 2018 fleet, on June 11th. The fleet will moor at the Falmouth haven Marina, next to Custom House Quay. The haven will be open between 11am & 2pm on the 11th & 12th June for the public to view the fleet.
The parade of sail led by Sir Robin and Suhaili, will take place on June 14th at 10 am, then at 13.30 pm the SITRaN charity race from Pendennis Point to Les Sables d’lonne France will start. The first stage of the 50th anniesary Golden Globe Race commences on July 1st.
CLICK HERE for more information and full programme of events.
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