Age is just a number

16 Jul
                                                                  Sir Robin Knox-Johnston aboard his Open 60 Grey Power

When I was in the army in South Africa I used to run long races. Half marathons and such. I would be running just fine until I saw some old bugger overtake me. I would look at the guy and think jeez how can a guy that age be running so fast. He must be at least 40. Yip these days I am pushing 60 and I can run further and faster than I could when I was 20. Which brings me to my story. It was really great to see Robin Knox-Johnston and his merry crew demolish the Transatlantic Race finishing in the early hours of Saturday morning.  RKJ, as he is affectionately known, is 76 years old and thinks nothing of hopping on a fast boat for yet another trip across the pond. Indeed last Fall he raced solo in the Route du Rhum finishing third in his class. Quite amazing really but maybe not because age is just a number and it’s clear that RKJ chooses to believe that he is still a youngster.

I was lucky enough to work with him during the 2002/03 Around Alone. We were roommates in New Zealand and he and I would often sit up late and shoot the breeze. I never mentioned it to him, but it was his book that inspired me to get out of South Africa and sail around the world. Robin was the first person to sail solo, nonstop around the world winning the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1969. He wrote a great book about his experience titled A World of My Own. I was just a kid and read each page over and over; it was an adventure beyond belief and I was there every inch of the way. What I remember most was that RKJ did it ‘for Queen and Country’. When things got tough he sucked it up for Great Britain. I am no fan of patriotism, indeed it was Samuel Johnson who wrote ‘patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’, but I can understand the sentiment and I admire the result. Robin was 30 years old when he returned to England on Suhaili, his creaky, leaky tub that had taken him around the world without stopping.
                                                              RKJ arriving back in England after 312 days at sea

This article was syndicated from All About Sails Blog


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