Sir Robin Knox-Johnston - 'It's not easy to sail around the world'


Yet more stirring stuff from Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. Speaking at the crew allocation event last Saturday for the forthcoming Clipper around-the-world yacht race, the veteran circumnavigator addressed the assembled crowd, saying: ‘It’s not easy to sail around the world. It is tough. But then why do it if it’s easy? Where’s the satisfaction? It’s doing the tough things in life that gives you satisfaction; take the hard route and afterwards look back on it and say, “I did something pretty special.” That’s what all of you are doing.’

More than 300 amateur sailors travelled to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard from all over the world to discover which of the ten teams competing in the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race they will represent. Three-quarters of the 422 men and women who will be taking part in this gruelling challenge came together to meet their skippers and new team mates, travelling from as far afield as Perth in Western Australia, Oman, China, Nova Scotia in Canada, Ireland and the UK.

Sir Robin said: ‘Bear in mind that more people have climbed Mount Everest now than have sailed around the world so what you are doing is very special. When you come back you will be different – we’ve seen it in every race. You’ll have faced nature in the raw, put up with the cold wave going down the back of your neck at 2 o’clock in the morning when you’d just woken up. But you’ll have achieved something you can be very proud of.

‘When you come back I want to hear you say two things. One: “That’s the best thing I’ve done with my life.” And the next thing, because then I know you really have benefited, is when you turn around and say, “So far”. Go on and live your lives, it’s what it’s all about.’

The Crew Allocation event is much-anticipated among those who have signed up to take part in this race around the globe. This is where the reality of their participation in the race truly begins to kick in; with a skipper in place, team strategies start to take shape, roles are assigned to the crew and, with about 100 days to go until the race start, the countdown is on.

The race is contested by ten identical stripped down 68-foot racing yachts, each sponsored by a city, region or country. Already confirmed for Clipper 09-10 are Hull & Humber, representing the host port for this edition of the race, Uniquely Singapore, Qingdao, Cork, Cape Breton Island and California. The remaining four yachts will be named in the coming weeks ahead of the race start from the Humber, on the east coast of England, on September 13.