Celebrating the anniversary of the start of the world's first non-stop solo circumnavigation

Clipper Ventures Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston celebrated the 40th anniversary of the day he left to set the record for the world’s first ever solo and non-stop circumnavigation on Saturday 14 June.

Sir Robin left Falmouth aboard his 32ft Bermudan ketch Suhaili on 14 June 1968 and returned 312 days later on 22 April 1969 to become the first person to sail single handed and non-stop around the world.

Last year Sir Robin completed another solo circumnavigation at the age of 68 in the Velux 5 Oceans, this time in his Open 60 SAGA Insurance.

Earlier this year Sir Robin was awarded the Yachting Journalist Association’s prestigious Yachtsman of the Year Award – making him a three-time winner over the past 40 years.

Speaking from Sydney in Nova Scotia, Sir Robin said: “The difference between when I set off to sail around the world non-stop 40 years ago and today shows a period of intense development in sailing; the equivalent to the difference between the era of the bi-plane and Concorde.

“Psychologically then there was the worry of not knowing whether a non-stop voyage was possible. Nor did anyone know what sort of boat was right for the task. We navigated as Captain James Cook had 200 years before, had no weather forecasts, no emergency beacons and no reliable communications. You judged the weather to come from barometer readings and studying the clouds.

“Today we have very fast boats designed for the purpose and made from modern materials like carbon, only just heard of 40 years ago. We know the voyage can be achieved non-stop which removes the psychological pressure.

“We have GPS instead of the sextant so we have accurate positions every three seconds instead of sometimes having to wait five days to see the sun. We have instant communications via satellites and these communications enable us to download accurate weather information that can predict the meteorological conditions up to ten days in advance allowing tactical routing.

“Clothing is much better, freeze dried food has replaced tins, and water makers replaced large tanks or rain from the mainsail.

“Still, as I had no idea that all these treats were on the horizon as none had been invented and as satellites were in their infancy, I did not miss them. We have moved on and the game is different. That is sad in a way as the raw adventure of those days has gone,” Sir Robin added.

Clipper ventures
In 1995, Sir Robin founded Clipper Ventures with businessman William Ward in order to give ordinary people the opportunity to sail around the world. The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is now in its sixth edition, with over 400 people taking part in each race.

The Clipper fleet is currently berthed ahead of their final transatlantic race of the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race.

Sir Robin will remain in Sydney, Nova Scotia until Monday 16 June when the Clipper fleet starts Race 13 from Sydney to Cork in the ten-month series.