‘Grey Power’ ready for racing

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JULY 25 -- Solo sailing pioneer Sir Robin Knox-Johnston completed his first solo passage in more than 15 years Friday when he sailed into Gosport, England, from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The 2,000 nautical mile journey across the north Atlantic was a qualifier for Knox-Johnston’s entry into the Velux 5 Oceans Race , formerly known as the Around Alone Race and before that as the BOC Challenge. Knox-Johnston, who is 67, finished in 14 days aboard his Open 60 yacht, Grey Power. The race kicks off Oct. 22 in Bilbao, Spain.

“I am delighted to have completed my qualifying trip for the Velux 5 Oceans. It’s good to get it out of the way, get home and focus on getting the boat in shape for the race,” Knox-Johnston says in a news release. “I settled back into sailing alone very easily, helped by the fact that Grey Power is a fabulous boat, very rewarding and lovely to sail. I didn’t want to push the boat too hard and break anything as some of the equipment is quite tired now, but even without overdoing it I spent much of the time averaging 10 knots!”

At age 29 Knox-Johnston was only one of nine starters to finish the 1968-’69 Sunday Times Golden Globe, becoming the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world. Knox-Johnston says he hopes to finish the 30,000 mile around-the-world Velux 5 Oceans Race in 112 days and to shave 200 days off his 1969 time. The last time Knox-Johnston raced around the world was in 1994 with Sir Peter Blake when the pair won the Jules Verne Trophy.

To read more about Knox-Johnston and the Velux 5 Oceans Race see the September issue of Soundings, due out in early August.

? Jason Fell