Ramón Carlín, the “weekend sailor” who upset the odds to become the winner of the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973-74, has died in Mexico City at the age of 92.
Carlín was a complete unknown in the sport when he entered the event, which later became the Volvo Ocean Race, having made his fortune manufacturing washing machines and other white goods in his native Mexico after starting his career as a door-to-door salesman selling cutlery, pots and pans and other household goods.
By 1973, he was seeking new challenges. He assembled a crew of good, but unheralded sailors, before upsetting some of the era’s leading names of offshore sailing, such as Britain’s Chay Blyth, by winning with his Swan 65, Sayula II.
He didn’t insure Sayula II for the race, but saved on the premium to cover necessary repairs. The crew only discovered this as they approached the finish with only 14 of the 19 strands of the forestay still intact.
After the race, in which three rival sailors died in the 19-strong fleet, Carlín returned home to a presidential reception in Acapulco and became Mexico’s most famous yachtsman.