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Falmouth Celebrates 50th anniversary of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Departure in 1968 Golden Globe Race

15th June 2018
Built by the owner-skipper himself to a design by American William Atkin, the 32ft non-stop-world-girdling Suhaili was in fine form off Falmouth yesterday with Robin Knox-Johnston on the helm Built by the owner-skipper himself to a design by American William Atkin, the 32ft non-stop-world-girdling Suhaili was in fine form off Falmouth yesterday with Robin Knox-Johnston on the helm

Fifty years to the day after Sir Robin Knox-Johnston set out from Falmouth UK in his rugged 32ft yacht Suhaili to become the first man to sail solo non-stop around the Globe, the British master mariner returned yesterday to lead a celebratory parade of sail around the harbour. Watched by visitors on every headland, the 200-strong armada of sail crisscrossed between Falmouth and St Mawes before Sir Robin set up a start line between Suhaili and Sir Francis Chichester’s equally famous yacht Gipsy Moth IV and fired the canon to set the 17-strong fleet of 2018 Golden Globe Race yachts (including Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin in his Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance) on their way to Les Sables d’Olonne for the start of this 50th anniversary solo circumnavigation on Sunday July 1st.

The Suhaili Parade of Sail was the culmination of a 3-day festival involving Suhaili, Gipsy Moth IV, the replica fleet of Golden Globe Race yachts and vessels from around the UK and Europe which had gathered in Falmouth to honour Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s achievement in the original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race back in 1968/69.

falmouth les sables start2Start of Falmouth to Les Sables-d’Olonne race – Gregor McGuckin’s Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance on the right
The Mayor of Falmouth, Cllr Grenville Chappell said: “It’s amazing to think it was 50 years ago - it seems only yesterday - that Falmouth welcomed Sir Robin Knox-Johnston back into port after his incredible and historic sailing achievement, one that captured the hearts and minds of millions of people around the world. His exploits then and subsequent, have inspired many across the UK and beyond to get out on the water, take up sailing or indeed undertake their own adventures. It certainly made an indelible mark on Falmouth’s community and we are thrilled to see Sir Robin and his legendary yacht Suhaili back in town. We’re delighted to be the host port for the Suhaili 50 Falmouth Parade of Sail jamboree. Our community has come together so well to assist, so a particular thank you to Falmouth Town Council, Falmouth BID, Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, St Mawes Sailing Club and St Austell Brewery for their support.”

"The Suhaili Parade of Sail was the culmination of a 3-day festival involving Suhaili, Gipsy Moth IV & the replica fleet of Golden Globe Race yachts"

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “It is wonderful to be back in Falmouth and to receive such a warm welcome. Everyone has been very kind. This week’s celebrations have brought back so many memories.”

One of those memories is of a barometer, ‘borrowed’ off a pub wall before Sir Robin set out on his solo first which he used to monitor the changing weather conditions during his 312 day voyage. The original was later stolen from his yacht but Sir Robin returned with a replica of that faithful 'A Lovely day for a Guinness' branded barometer to present to the Chain Locker Pub where he stayed 50 years ago before his departure and on his return.

And to mark his return to this famous harbour-side hostelry, staff served Sir Robin with the same meal of steak and chips followed by lemon meringue pie he had ordered when he first returned to Falmouth on 22nd April 1969.

knox johnston meal3Robin Knox-Johnston savours the moment with a re-creation of the meal he had in The Chain Locker pub on Falmouth town waterfront when he returned from his great voyage 50 years ago.
First of the 2018 Golden Globe Race yachts to cross the line at the start of the SITRaN Challenge race to Les Sables d’Olonne was Tapio Lehtinen’s Finnish yacht Asterisk closely followed by 72-year old Jean-Luc Van Den Heede’s French entry Matmut and the two bright orange painted entrants Mark Sinclair’s Australian yacht Coconut and Istvan Koper’s USA/Hungarian entry Puffin, with Gregor McGuckin’s Hanley Energy Endurance settling into fifth place as the fleet reached open water.

Palestinian skipper Nabil Amra, who has still to complete his 1,000 mile solo proving trial, set out later in the day and must sail a further 300 solo distance once he arrives at the French port in order to qualify for the Race.

Published in Golden Globe Race
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About the Golden Globe Race

The Golden Globe Race is the original round the world yacht race. In 1968, while man was preparing to take his first steps on the moon, a mild mannered and modest young man was setting out on his own record breaking voyage of discovery. Off shore yacht racing changed forever with adventurers and sailors, inspired by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, following in his pioneering wake. Nine men started the first solo non-stop sailing race around the World. Only one finished. History was made. Navigating with a sextant, paper charts and an accurate and reliable time piece, Sir Robin navigated around the world. In 2018, to celebrate 50 years since that first record breaking achievement, the Golden Globe Race was resurrected. It instantly caught the attention of the worlds media as well as adventures, captivated by the spirit and opportunity. The original race is back.

The Golden Globe Race: Stepping back to the golden age of solo sailing

Like the original Sunday Times event back in 1968/9, the 2018 Golden Globe Race was very simple. Depart Les Sables d'Olonne, France on July 1st 2018 and sail solo, non-stop around the world, via the five Great Capes and return to Les Sables d'Olonne. Entrants are limited to use the same type of yachts and equipment that were available to Robin Knox-Johnston in that first race. That means sailing without modern technology or benefit of satellite-based navigation aids.

Competitors must sail in production boats between 32ft and 36ft overall (9.75 10.97m) designed prior to 1988 and having a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge. These yachts will be heavily built, strong and steady, similar in concept to Robin's 32ft vessel Suhaili.

In contrast to the current professional world of elite ocean racing, this edition travels back to a time known as the 'Golden Age' of solo sailing. Suhaili was a slow and steady 32ft double-ended ketch based on a William Atkins ERIC design. She is heavily built of teak and carried no computers, GPS, satellite phone nor water-maker, and Robin completed the challenge without the aid of modern-day shore-based weather routing advice. He had only a wind-up chronometer and a barograph to face the world alone, and caught rainwater to survive, but was at one with the ocean, able to contemplate and absorb all that this epic voyage had to offer.

This anniversary edition of the Golden Globe Race is a celebration of the original event, the winner, his boat and that significant world-first achievement. Competitors in this race will be sailing simple boats using basic equipment to guarantee a satisfying and personal experience. The challenge is pure and very raw, placing the adventure ahead of winning at all costs. It is for 'those who dare', just as it was for Knox-Johnston.

They will be navigating with sextant on paper charts, without electronic instruments or autopilots. They will hand-write their logs and determine the weather for themselves.

Only occasionally will they talk to loved ones and the outside world when long-range high frequency and ham radios allow.

It is now possible to race a monohull solo around the world in under 80 days, but sailors entered in this race will spend around 300 days at sea, challenging themselves and each other. The 2018 Golden Globe Race was a fitting tribute to the first edition and it's winner, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Background on Don McIntyre (61) Race Founder

Don is an inveterate sailor and recognised as one of Australia s greatest explorers. Passionate about all forms of adventure and inspiring others, his desire is to recreate the Golden Age of solo sailing. Don finished 2nd in class in the 1990-91 BOC Challenge solo around the world yacht race. In 2010, he led the 4-man Talisker Bounty Boat challenge to re-enact the Mutiny on the Bounty voyage from Tonga to West Timor, in a simil

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