An impressive flotilla of vessels including Royal Navy warship HMS Mersey joined Sir Robin Knox-Johnston for a parade of sail yesterday (Monday April 22) commemorating his historic round-the-world solo sail in 1969.

It was 50 years ago that Sir Robin returned to Falmouth after completing the first ever solo circumnavigation of the globe, placing first in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.

Falmouth Packet:

Picture credit: Shaun Roster

After he stepped back on shore at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club in the exact location he took his first steps back on land after 312 days at sea in 1969, Sir Robin said: “Today has just felt like a fantastic display for my sport.

"I looked around out there and was so proud to see so many people out enjoying the day with me, celebrating something that happened 50 years ago. I feel truly honoured.”

Falmouth Packet:

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston unveils a bronze plaque of his footsteps in North Quay. Picture credit: Max Willcock

On Easter Sunday, a bronze casting of Sir Robin's footsteps was inlaid in Falmouth's North Quay, cementing his legacy in the town for many years to come.

The idea of installing a permanent tribute to the legendary seaman came from Falmouth Haven's Demelza Knights, who organised a successful fundraising appeal to cover the costs.

Sir Robin added: "My pleasure comes from watching others getting to enjoy my sport. Sailing on the oceans, is the way I enjoy it, and as long as I can, I will go on persuading others to try it because once you have, you will understand and be captivated by it like I was.”

Falmouth Packet:

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was the first man to sail around the world on his own, leaving from Falmouth in 1968 and returning 312 days later. Picture credit: Max Willcock

As the clock struck 3.25pm - the precise time he crossed the finish line those fifty years ago - the warship and all the yachts sounded their horns in salute to the man who not only inspired the nation but also the world, and changed the face of ocean exploration forever.

Falmouth Packet:

Among the many supporters turning out to help re-create Sir Robin’s moment were family members, friends, colleagues and sailing comrades from across the decades, as well as local well-wishers who were there to see him return in 1969.

Falmouth Packet:

Speaking about the appearance of the Royal Navy at the parade of sail, Sir Robin, said: “My huge gratitude to the crew of HMS Mersey for taking the time to join us here today, I feel very grateful for their support.

“I love the Navy. I joined when I was 16 and I think it is one of the greatest careers open to a young person these days. More people should want to join. It’s a brilliant life and a brilliant service. I learned my trade as a Merchant Navy officer and that’s really what gave me the skills and the confidence to go out and sail around the world. Without the Navy, I would never have done what I did.”

Joining well-wishers was a strong representation of past and present Clipper Race crew. Sir Robin co-founded the Clipper Race following his round the world exploits. The only event on the planet which trains amateurs to become ocean racing sailors, over 5,000 people have now taken part in its eleven editions since 1995.

Falmouth Packet:

Sir Robin's yacht Suhaili. Picture credit: David Barnicoat

As part of the celebrations commemorating his circumnavigation, Sir Robin will be signing copies of his new autobiography Running Free at Falmouth Bookseller today at 11am.