Sailor tackles Atlantic – at 75

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Published: Sunday 2nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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Veteran sailor and grandfather-of-five Sir Robin Knox-Johnston will be setting off on a solo Transatlantic race today at the age of 75 – 45 years after he became the first man to sail alone non-stop around the world.

Sir Robin, who founded the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, is returning to his solo ocean-racing roots by entering his Open 60 yacht Grey Power into the Route du Rhum competition which starts today in St Malo, France.

The pensioner, who is the oldest participant to have entered so far, last competed in the 3,500-mile race from to the Guadeloupe in the Caribbean in 1982 in his 70ft catamaran Olympus.

And this will be his first solo race since his Velux 5 Oceans circumnavigation in 2006-7.

The inaugural race in 1978 was won by Canadian Mike Birch after a nail biting finish but was marred by the disappearance of French sailor Alain Colas, who was lost at sea.

The 2014 race, which is open to mono and multihull boats across four classes with almost 80 entrants and Sir Robin will be racing in the Rhum class.

Speaking ahead of the race, Sir Robin said: “I am doing this because I bloody well want to. I have been working hard with the Clipper Race the last year. I did the Sydney-Hobart and loved it. I looked around to see what was coming up and here we are. It is a race I have done before.

“There are more people here now than in 1982, the age and profile of the people who visit is much the same. I don’t know any other race that attracts this much attention. It is phenomenal.

“There are bound to be questions about my age. They ask what I think of doing this at 75 and I say I am still 45. That is how I feel. I think I am 45 and that is where I stay. I feel no different to when I last raced. I am pretty fit. I lead an active life. I think of myself as young and that is it. I treat myself as young and I am just not ready for the slippers, pipe and television. That is not coming in a hurry.”

Sir Robin set his circumnavigation record when he competed in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race on April 22 1969.

The other seven competitors dropped out at various stages leaving Sir Robin as the victor as he sailed into Falmouth aboard his 32ft boat Suhaili, 312 days after he left the Cornish port.

Sir Robin, who was born in Putney, south west London, and now lives in Portsmouth, is the chairman and founder of Clipper Ventures which runs the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the biannual event which sees amateur sailors from around the world completing a 40,000 mile global circumnavigation.

Published: Sunday 2nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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