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Robin Knox-Johnston

Robin Knox-Johnston


Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was the first person to complete a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the globe between June 1968 and April 1969 in Suhaili as winner of the Golden Globe Race.

The eldest of four brothers, RKJ was born in 1939 in Putney, London. He was schooled at Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, the same school as Bill Tilman and Graham Greene and was a team mate of Michael Meacher MP. His main interests were long distance running, swimming and boxing. Not being very good at team sports he often slipped away to his Grandparents’ house to work on a 1927 Austin 7 car instead.

He went to sea in the Merchant Navy in 1957 as a deck officer, something which ignited his passion for sailing. He skippered Condor to line honours in two legs of the 1977/8 Whitbread Race, co-skippered Enza New Zealand with the late Peter Blake to take the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994 for the fastest circumnavigation of the world, and completed the Velux5Oceans Solo Around the World Race in 4th position in 2006/7 at the age of 68.


In 1992 he became President of the Sail Training Association, a youth development organisation which operated two topsail schooners Sir Winston Churchill and Malcolm Miller and also organised the annual Tall Ships races. By the time he retired in 2001 £11 million had been raised to replace these two vessels with two larger brigs Prince William and Stavros Niarchos.

Also in 1992 he became a Trustee of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, serving as Chairman of the Friends for 3 years, before being appointed a Greenwich representative for the projected Maritime Museum in Falmouth, Cornwall. His ten years at Greenwich expired in 2002, but he remains a Trustee of the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth, which opened in 2003.

He was Knighted in 1995, and has uniquely been the UK’s Yachtsman of the Year 3 times. He was ISAF Sailor of the Year with Peter Blake in 1994 and became one of the first 6 inductees into the ISAF Hall of Fame in 2007.

RKJ was appointed to the Sports Lottery Panel at its inception in 1995, initially distributing £250 million a year, and from 1999 to 2002 served as a member of the English Sports Council.

He married childhood sweetheart, Suzanne, in 1962 with their daughter, Sara, being born in Bombay in 1963. Suzanne passed away in 2003. Robin’s interests are predominantly sailing, exploring by boat, maritime history, the marine environment, youth development and shooting.

1969 CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire)
1970 UK Yachtsman of the Year
1970 Royal Cruising Club Seamanship Medal
1972 Younger Brother of Trinity House
1972 Member of the RNLI Committee of Management
1990 Silk Cut Nautical Award Seamanship Trophy
1990 Honorary Doctorate, Maine Maritime Academy
1991 Royal Cruising Club Challenge Cup
1991 Cruising World Magazine (USA) Medal of Honour
1992 Gold Medal (for experiments with renaissance navigation), Royal Institute of Navigation
1992 Freeman of the City of London
1992 Honorary Doctor of Technology, Southampton University
1994 Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation
1994 Cutty Sark Medal, The Maritime Trust
1994 IYRU World Sailor of the Year
1994 UK Yachtsman of the Year (2nd time)
1995 Hon Acadamecian, The Maritime Institute (Portugal)
1995 Superior Achievement Award, The Institute of Navigation (USA)
1995 President of the Little Ship Club
1995 Knighted


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