Sir Robin restores boat from voyage around the world
SAILING legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is restoring the yacht he sailed around the world in nearly 50 years ago.
The 77-year-old has spent the past three years working on the beloved boat, in which he sailed solo non-stop round the globe in 1969.
In the 32ft boat – named Suhaili – he set the record for the feat after winning the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.
Now, 47 years later, Suhaili has been relaunched at Gosport Premier Marina after its revamp in Portchester.
Sir Robin, who lives in Old Portsmouth, said: ‘She is part of my life. If I did nothing, she would fall to pieces.
‘I wanted to get her commissioned so I could use her again for sailing. Although she won’t be used for racing, I can take her out in the Solent.’
He added: ‘Suhaili has her place in history.
‘She was the first boat to go non-stop around the world apart from a submarine.
‘The boat is in the history books and I wanted to see her restored to those days.’
Sir Robin was only able to work on the boat when he was free from his duties with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. The 11-month competition was started by Sir Robin and gives amateurs the chance to sail around the world in the 72ft Clipper sailing boats.
He said: ‘There were 1,400 bolts that needed changing so it took a very long time.
‘I started doing little pieces about 10 years ago but the last three years is when I have dedicated a lot of time.
‘It is great to see her back out on the water. I will be using her to potter around in.’
Suhaili was built more than 50 years ago in Bombay, India. Around 10 years later, Sir Robin was one of nine sailors to compete in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race setting off from Falmouth on June 14, 1968.
With the yacht packed with supplies, he set off on a voyage that was to last just over 10 months.
He arrived back in Falmouth after 312 days at sea, on April 22, 1969, securing his place in the history books.
In his last race, Sir Robin competed in the 10th anniversary of the Route de Rhum which started in St Malo, France, in November 2014. It finished on the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe with Sir Robin coming third after the 3,542-mile race.
He added: ‘I don’t have any plans for more races at the moment.’