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Sailing legend prepares for thrill of Rolex Sydney Hobart chase

by Danielle McKay, RSHYR Media on 22 Dec 2013
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston will race against the 12 Clipper 70s in the Rolex Sydney Hobart. © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/

<It’s not often Sir Robin Knox-Johnston finds himself in a no-win situation, but that’s just where he wound up when he entered the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race this year.

Sir Robin chose to sail aboard the older generation Clipper 68, but will race against those aboard the 12 brand new Clipper 70’s in the race he created; the Clipper Round the World Race and one other 68 footer which are among the fleet of 94 yachts competing in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s blue water classic.

The problem for Knox-Johnston was, which boat to race on: the old or the new?

The 74-year-old explained that if he joined a crew aboard the 70 and didn’t win, he’d look bad. The same could be said if he raced aboard the 68.

What made Knox-Johnston sway towards the latter was his basic instinct.

'It’s much better chasing someone down, than being chased,’’ he said.

'If you’re being chased, fear comes into it. I just instinctively prefer to be the hunter.

'I’ve always worked on the principle that it’s best to unimpress your opposition because then you catch them out, and when they’re recovering from the shock you get ahead of them.'

The 69th Rolex Sydney Hobart will be Knox-Johnston’s second, having navigated on board Titania of Cowes in 2010, but it will be his first race ever aboard a Clipper, which may seem strange for the race’s originator.

Knox-Johnston says he’s not only looking forward to having a sail, but seeing how the new generation of his fleet fares in an IRC division for the first time.

'We’ve only just had the boats rated, we’ve never raced against another fleet because we haven’t had time,’’ he said. 'For us, it’s going to be very interesting.'

As if Knox-Johnston isn’t busy enough, the first person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed (non-stop) is now planning another solo adventure.

Exactly what that involves remains a mystery, with Knox-Johnston remaining surprisingly tight-lipped.

'In 2014, I won’t be coming past here though,’’ he hinted. 'It’ll be in my Open 60.

'Stripped out, 60-feet, has a bucket, doesn’t have a lavatory, a big sail area, and as they say, it’s ‘as slippery as snail snot’.

'I’ll be racing, in a fleet, but I can’t confirm or deny which race.'

The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia, the Australia Network throughout the Asia Pacific Region and webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7 from 12.30pm until 2.00pm on Boxing Day.

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