Ask Robin Knox-Johnston why on earth he would want to risk life and limb to sail around the world by himself without stopping and he’ll give you a simple answer.
“Because it hadn’t been done.”
Knox-Johnston left England in 1968 with nine other sailors attempting to be the first to circumnavigate the globe by themselves. When he arrived back 312 days later, after braving everything from sharks to storms, he was the only one still going.
Knox-Johnston is in Halifax this week as part of another trip around the world — the Clipper 07/08 Round the World yacht race. He founded the race in the mid-90’s as a way for non-sailors to experience the excitement he did.
“There are a lot of people out there who would love to do it but they haven’t got enough money to buy a boat, or haven’t enough confidence,” Knox-Johnston, who was knighted in 1995, said of his mindset while founding the race.
He figured if he provided the boat and a skipper, people would want to get involved. So far he’s been right.
On Sunday the ten boats in this year’s race landed in Halifax. Each yacht carries up to 20 people and only the skipper is a professional sailor. The rest of the crew is made up of people from all walks of life, ranging from being in their 20’s to their 60’s.
“Forty per cent of the people (who sign up) have never sailed before,” he said. “I say to them, ‘if you want to do it enough, you’ll do it. It’s up to you.”
“If it was easy, why do it? Where’s the satisfaction?”