Open 60 solo skipper fills Yachting Monthly in on his summer plans

We caught up with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on the eve of the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race to find out how he’s finding life post-Velux 5 Oceans. The solo sailor doesn’t look 68, and he certainly doesn’t act it – he doesn’t even collect his pension yet! By the end of the Velux 5 Oceans race earlier this year, however, he was beginning to feel his age:

‘I’d had too many things go wrong, it was very frustrating, and by the time I got to Bilbao, I was ready to stop racing – although actually, I’d got the boat to the point when it was ready to race – one of the usual contradictions of sailing…’

Sir Robin was plagued by a series of technical problems throughout the race, and credits his Merchant Navy days for imbuing him with the resilient attitude that kept him going:’Those days gave me a strong body and a strong mind. A job has to be done because it has to be done, and if it was a threat to the ship then you had to deal with it. I’m still convinced that the reason I got round the world the first time was the attitude I picked up in the Merchant Navy.’

Since his return, the pensioner hasn’t been resting on his laurels – or resting much at all. He launched himself straight into writing his new book, Force of Nature, which will be launched this September at Southampton Boat Show. The fast turn-around meant little time for any R & R: ‘I didn’t even have time to get back to my house for a month!

So, can he forsee a time when he won’t race anymore? ‘Right this minute, I have no interest in racing whatsoever. But when I wake up in the morning it will be different! I need some time to switch off and go and chill out somewhere – I’ve had two days off since last May!’

Sir Robin has been round-the-world non-stop once, and the Velux circumnavigation included only two stopovers. Now he’s looking forward to visiting the places he’s sailed past in his racing bids:

‘My next boat is going to be about 60 ft long, probably weigh in at about 30 tonnes, with three nice double cabins en-suite, somewhere to put my diving gear, if I can, I’ll get somewhere to tuck my micro-light away, a big powerful engine, strong hull, because I want to go into the ice, and I’m off to explore. I’m going to see all those places I’ve always meant to see and revisit all those places I want desperately to see again.’

The solo sailor has done 7 Round the Island races on 4 different boats – tomorrow he will be on the start line at 0500hrs aboard his Open 60, sponsored by Lombard Marine Finance for the event. We’ll let you know how he gets on in the competitive fleet as the day progresses.

Picture: OnEdition