It’s somehow hard to believe it is half-a-century since a young Robin Knox-Johnston thought about going ahead with his dream to sail solo non-stop around the world.
Of course, on 27 August 1966, another sailor, Francis Chichester, sailed his ketch Gipsy Moth IV from Plymouth in the United Kingdom and returned there after 226 days of sailing on 28 May 1967, having circumnavigated the globe, with one stop (in Sydney).
By doing so, he became the first person to achieve a true circumnavigation of the world solo from West to East via the great Capes. The voyage was also a race against the clock, as Chichester wanted to beat the typical times achieved by the fastest fully-crewed clipper ships during the heyday of commercial sail in the 19th century.
Great achievement of course but Robin outdid this by continuing his voyage without stopping off anywhere – a really superb and ground-breaking achievement which resulted in him being made a CBE. A well-deserved knighthood followed later in 1995.
He may now be aged 80 but his enthusiasm and pure love of the maritime life has not diminished andhe carries on sailing.
Indeed, Sir Robin, who lives in Portsmouth, is scheduled to arrive in Falmouth this Easter Monday afternoon where he crossed the finish line 50 years ago.
Looking back, Sir Robin feels a great deal of pride – and hopes he can inspire the next generation to get out on the water.
He said: ‘It’s never too late to start sailing – and I would love to see more people in the Portsmouth region taking an interest in it.’
So, let’s all genuinely hope that ‘opportunity Knox’ for lots of would-be seafarers to carry on the tradition that makes our neck of the woods the genuine maritime capital of the nation.