Sir Robin Knox-Johnston sails out for Route du Rhum transatlantic race

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HE MIGHT be the oldest skipper in the race, but Sir Robin Knox-Johnston remained confident as he left the UK to compete in a 3,500 mile transatlantic solo route.

It’s 45 years since he became the first man to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1968-1969.

Now aged 75, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, is competing in the Route du Rhum race, starting from St Malo, France, early next month.

Today, the famous Clipper Round the World Yacht Race founder departed Gosport for St Malo aboard his Open 60 yacht, Grey Power.

He said: ‘I am fit, I feel very strong and I am eager to get out there.

‘I have worked hard to get my boat ready and have been out sailing a lot for practice, including doing the Round the Island Race.

‘It’s a good race. It’s a very competitive one. We’ll see how it goes.

‘It’s too far ahead at the moment to see what weather we’ll get.

‘It’s nice to get out on your own on the boat.

‘I enjoy sailing with a crew but just occasionally I like to go out on my own.’

Sir Robin said a lot has changed since he broke that record back in 1969.

‘There were no satellites then and there are now,’ he said.

‘I can download weather. I know exactly where I am.

‘If things goes wrong I can just phone up someone and press a button.

‘We didn’t have all that 45 years ago. It makes it a lot safer.’

And Sir Robin said he hopes his many years out on the water will be an advantage as he takes part in the race.

‘I have got quite a lot of experience. I think it helps you a bit because you’ve done it before and you know what to expect,’ he said.

‘After that it’s down to who’s got the will to race the boat.’

Sir Robin is the only British sailor to have won ‘Yachtsman of the Year’ three times.

He has sailed around the world four times, twice solo, including the Golden Globe historic circumnavigation in 1968/69, and once winning the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994.

The Route du Rhum is a classic solo transatlantic race which takes place every four years.

It is expected to take around two weeks to complete.