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Robin Knox-Johnston is Celebrity Hit For Iberian Killer Whales

28th November 2022
Sailing Legend - at 83, Robin Knox-Johnston is in the front line of word saliing greats
Sailing Legend - at 83, Robin Knox-Johnston is in the front line of word sailing greats Credit: Onedition

Orca attacks on sailboats off Spain or Portugal - usually aiming for their rudders - are a matter of serious and increasing concern. Now the topic has been moved even further up the offshore passage-making agenda
with an assault on the 54ft personal sailing cruiser of sailing legend Robin Knox-Johnston, who has been at the forefront of international voyaging and racing ever since his non-stop voyage round the world 54 years ago with Suhaili in 1968-69. Then in a very long list of subsequent achievements, he held the round Ireland record from May to November 1986.

But as much as he’s accomplished in the offshore world, he recently crossed something new off his 83-year-old list. He just got attacked by the sea life he has spent a lifetime sailing above. He explained in
International Scuttlebutt:

"On November 24 at 0835 GMT off the Spanish coast of Cape Finisterre (Lat 42 53.6N Long 009 30.3W), a pod of 7-10 Orcas surrounded my Farr 56 Sanjula and then began to barge into her rudder. This eventually broke a steering connecting rod.

The engine was switched off, and the boat lay hove-to whilst the emergency steering was rigged. After ten minutes, the Orcas moved away, no longer finding a hove-to yacht interesting ... but that is only an assumption. The boat sailed to Vigo for repairs.

No one can explain these sudden spates of attacks. A yacht was rammed and holed, then sank 3-4 weeks ago, and who wants to be in a liferaft with large aggressive Orcas about?

Also known as killer whales, they are not considered a threat to humans, though the past few years have seen their disdain for sailboats. With a mature length of up to 26-feet and a weight of 8,000 pounds, they win the battle".

Published in Solo Sailing
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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