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Sailing icon back at the helm

JUNE 16 -- Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to ever sail single-handed and non-stop around the world, is now sailing his Open 60, Grey Power, across the Atlantic and back in preparation for his bid in the Velux 5 Oceans , which kicks off in October.

Knox-Johnston, 67, set off Tuesday with a crew of three from Gosport, England, and was headed for New York, a press release says. He will then sail single-handed on the return passage to Plymouth, England.

In 1982 Knox-Johnston created a rule that in order to qualify for the race (then known as the BOC Challenge) each competitor must complete a trans-oceanic voyage of at least 2,000 miles, the release says. Knox-Johnston’s passage from England to the United States will cover 2,925 miles.

“Having created this rule for the first race I can hardly ask for exemption,” Knox-Johnston says in the release. “The leg from New York back to Plymouth will give me the opportunity to get to know the boat, which is a fundamental necessity for a race like the Velux 5 Oceans.”

The race has taken place every four years since 1982 (1982, ’86 and ’90 as the BOC; 1994, ’98 and ’02 as Around Alone).Organizers say it is the “oldest, most established, continuously run, single-handed round the world yacht race.” This year skippers will sail 30,000 miles around the world, both starting in October and ending in April 2007 in Bilbao, Spain, and will make stops in Fremantle, Australia, and Norfolk, Va.

—Jason Fell