Fifty years ago tomorrow on June 14th 1968 Robin Knox-Johnson set sail from Falmouth on his epic solo circumnavigation of the world. The rest as they say is history. The young 29 year old Merchant Navy officer from the British India Steam Navigation Company (BISNC) would go down in history as the first person to sail single-handed around the world in his tiny ketch Suhaili.

The Queen subsequently knighted him for his considerable contribution to ocean racing after ten and a half arduous months at sea. Sir Robin started his career as a navigating cadet on the BISNC cadet ship, the 7,500 tons Chindwara where he joined 40 other cadets. Running between the UK and East African ports Chindwara trained many of the company’s future senior officers.

Robin progressed through the ranks serving on many BI passenger vessels before gaining his Masters Certificate of Competency. Setting up home in Bombay whilst on the passenger ship Dumra, Robin and his friend Peter Jordan hatched a plan to buy a dhow and sail it back to the UK. This was not a practical option and after much deliberation both men decided to have a purpose built sailing vessel built of Indian teak. In late 1966 the new ketch Suhaili arrived in UK waters from India via South Africa.

Robin bought out his partner and his decision to enter the Golden Globe Round the World yacht race changed his life forever. During his 313 days long voyage he faced every known hazard from severe weather, polluted water tanks, radio failure, the disintegration of his self steering system which he ditched, the main boom collapsed, his tiller sheered off and Suhaili sprang a leak. Yet this incredibly courageous man battled on with sheer determination and Bulldog British spirit to achieve his ultimate goal by using just a sextant and chronometer he navigated Suhaili 30,000 miles.

Sir Robin we salute you!