A World Of His Own

On 22nd April 1969, a third year student in London, I watched Robin Knox-Johnson return to Falmouth on television.

His feat made a lasting impression. Like Sir Francis Chichester, he represented a spirit of adventure born of individual skill and personal endeavour. The essence of the achievement? No large back-up team, no communication for much of the voyage, no modern navigational aids – one man running with the elements, (and often against them).

Nowadays, it is difficult to describe his achievement without dropping into the world of spin and hype. They have stolen all the superlatives. Too much has been attributed too often to lesser deeds.You have to read his story in his own words to understand the man and the task.

And, for the rest of us, whatever our sailing ambition, he will be one who went before.

Are there words that sign-post what he did that may work for us now?

Napoleon Hill showed a feel for it early last century when he wrote:

“Whatever you want, oh discontented man, step up. Pay the price – and take it.”

Sir Robin stepped up, paid the price with perseverance and stamina and took his prize – the first to sail non-stop solo round the world.

Because he showed the trip was possible, others have followed with increasing confidence  – as well as with many, many more technical aids, and achieved successes of their own

Now, forty years on, general expectations are such that completing a solo navigation goes largely unmentioned – you have to be a record-breaker (or fail spectacularly) to get noticed.

But remember this: taking the prize may be the headline, but it’s the stepping-up and paying the price that’s the real challenge. And that’s the Knox-Johnson legacy.

All power to him this anniversary.

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4 thoughts on “A World Of His Own

  1. Everyone sailing around the globe today owes an enormous debt to people like Sir Robin for leading the way.

    We should all drink a wee dram to his continued health.

  2. Pingback: Robin Knox-Johnston Day - Morning Post | 1800blogger

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  4. I found out about him through the Artemis Transatlantic Race which started from Plymouth – UK a couple of years ago and then through the sad story of Donald Crowhurst.

    I do not think that any prize can “say anything” to a person that circuimvents the globe…alone…in a boat…non-stop. Everything that revolves around the act probably seems like “neccessary evil” to the people that step-up to any challenge. Sponsors, money, prosperous publicity, promotion, international media coverage….Neccessary evil! 😀

    Although an outstanding person (Johnston), what really left me breathless was the decision of Bernard Moitessier to abandon the race (having completed a circuimnavigation and while at a leading position) to go around the globe a second time! (He has obviously developed a non satisfactory sense about the size of the planet)

    (Back, with a bag full of photos 😀 )

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