1969: The First Solo Non-Stop Trip Across the Globe

April 22, 1969

Robert “Robin” Knox-Johnston was greeted by the cheers of a dockside crowd and the sounds of boat whistles as he arrived at Falmouth, England, to both win the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race and complete the first solo non-stop circumnavigation of the world. “I’m a little overwhelmed by this reception,” said the 40-year-old British yachtsman, who was down to his last few cans of food and attired in now-tattered clothes. “I didn’t realize I was going to receive such a royal welcome.” 

Knox-Johnston had departed from Falmouth on June 14, 1968, in his 32-foot (9.8-meter)-long sailboat Suhaili (pictured above), one of the smallest vessels participating in that race. He lost his self-steering gear off Australia, but still managed to round South America’s often treacherous Cape Horn on January 17, 1969. Knox-Johnston eventually managed to outpace all eight of his competitors.

In recognition of his unprecedented circling of the globe single-handedly, Knox-Johnston was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He was knighted in 1995. Knox-Johnston’s other maritime accomplishments have included becoming the oldest yachtsman to complete a round-the-world solo voyage, something that took place in 2006 when he was 67 and a participant in the VELUX 5 Oceans Race.   

Photo Credit: Thomas Keyser (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)

For more information on Robert “Robin” Knox-Johnston, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Knox-Johnston

Additional information on the sailboat (Bermudan ketch) Suhaili is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suhaili

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