Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik Yachting Range

Historic photos of first solo circumnavigation saved for posterity

by PPL Media on 11 Apr 2013
Circa 22nd April 1969: Robin Knox-Johnston with champagne aboard his 32ft yacht SUHAILI off Falmouth, England after becoming the first man to sail solo non-stop around the globe. Knox-Johnston was the sole finisher in the Sunday Times Golden Globe solo round the world race, having set out from Falmouth, England on 14th June 1968 Bill Rowntree - PPL © http://www.pplmedia.com

A 3,000-strong archive of pictures, taken during Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s pioneering solo non-stop round the world voyage in 1968/9, has been discovered and saved for posterity by specialist photo library PPL.


The pictures cover Knox-Johnston’s entry in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in1968/9 when Robin was one of nine starters attempting to become the first to sail alone non stop around the world. The event was billed as one of the last great challenges left to man. For the other eight, it was a challenge too far, for Robin was the only finisher, completing the 27,000 mile circumnavigation aboard his self-built 32ft ketch Suhaili in 312 days.

The valuable archive had been gathering dust in the library of the Sunday Mirror newspaper which had published Robin's stories during the voyage. The negatives were about to be dumped in a skip when the London newspaper moved from Fleet Street to Canary Wharf, but by pure chance, Bill Rowntree, the Mirror photographer who had covered Knox-Johnston’s departure and return to Falmouth, happened to be in the newspaper the day of the big clear out.

Bill, now 73, recalls, 'The picture library manager poked his head round the door and asked if I had any use for them.' Rowntree put the box under his arm and took it back to his home at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and there the negatives may have lain, had it not been for a particular picture request from Henri-Lloyd, the clothing manufacturer that had supplied Knox-Johnston’s original oilskins, to mark their 60th anniversary celebrations this year.

Many of the colour pictures in Knox-Johnston’s bestselling book A World of My Own, were lost after publication, but PPL Photo Agency holds what was left of the Knox-Johnston archive within its Pictures of Yesteryear Library. This also contains the archives of other famous sailing pioneers including Sir Francis Chichester, Sir Chay Blyth, and photographer Eileen Ramsay, who captured many of these great events between 1949 and 1970. It was Barry Pickthall’s call to Rowntree to see if he still had the negative that Henri-Lloyd needed, that prompted the question 'What should we do with the other 3,000 pictures I have here?'

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who is now inspiring hundreds of amateur sailors to follow in his adventurous wake aboard a 12-strong fleet of yachts in the Clipper Round the World Race starting from the UK in August, says of the find, 'I thought these pictures were lost, so it was a wonderful surprise to discover that this unique record of my return to Falmouth in 1969 still exists.'

Dan Houston, the Editor of Classic Boat Magazine, says: 'There is something quite awe-inspiring when you look at these photographs. They capture a moment in sailing history when Sir Robin, then a young man, almost unwittingly stepped into the history books. His boat Suhaili was not the fastest – he never expected to win, but as the other competitors were beaten by the elements and gear failure, it was Robin and his seaworthy little ketch that won the day. Sir Robin went on to become Britain's most endearing and enduring sailing hero – and gave his £5,000 prize money from the race to the family of Donald Crowhurst who committed suicide during the race.

These photographs show the man as much as the hero: his parents tense faces as he reassures them saying goodbye; life aboard in his untidy cabin; his first unsteady steps back on dry land and his first beer ashore. It is all such a contrast with how things are done today – and it makes his feat of seamanship all the more remarkable.'

PPL has now archived the entire collection of negatives and scanned in the best so that they are available to view online at www.pplmedia.com

To view the lightbox of all the RKJ pictures www.pplmedia.com/online/lightbox.lasso?id=12669125!click_here





Zhik SeabootYamaha Motor NZ - Realiability StartsBarz Optics - Melanin Lenses

Related Articles

Inaugural GC32 Championship coming up next month
A joint gathering of the international fleets of GC32 one design foiling catamarans is to take place in Muscat This will be the first occasion ever that the GC32 Racing Tour and the Extreme Sailing Series™ fleets have combined to lock horns on the race course.
Posted today at 12:44 pm
Collinson FX Market Commentary - Jan 18 - Brits opt for Free Trade
AUD trading 0.7540, while the NZD moves towards the important technical level of 0.7200. The Dollar continued to drift, as the GBP surged to 1.2400, while the EUR pushed towards 1.0700. Commodity currencies continued to prosper the slide in the reserve, with the AUD trading 0.7540, while the NZD moves towards the important technical level of 0.7200. The inauguration on Friday is the market focus
Posted today at 12:00 pm
Vendee Globe – Thomson races towards the finish against French rival
British sailor Alex Thomson is in second place with just 40 nautical miles behind French rival Armel Le Cléac’h. With just 390 nautical miles left to the finish port of Les Sable d’Olonne and less than two days until the leading duo are expected to complete the solo, non-stop, around the world race, British sailor Alex Thomson is in second place with just 40 nautical miles behind French rival Armel Le Cléac’h.
Posted today at 11:15 am
Vendee Globe - Thomson reduces margin but has to make vital decision
Single-handed monohull world record holder, Alex Thomson, continues to gnaw away at Banque Populaire VIII's lead Single-handed monohull world record holder, Alex Thomson, continues to gnaw away at Banque Populaire VIII's lead in the Vendee Globe Race. The margin between the first and second boat is now just 36nm.
Posted today at 10:55 am
City of Perth Festival of Sail inc Warren Jones Youth Regatta preview
The City of Perth Festival of Sail is coming to Perth Waters with a bonanza of sailing and social activities The City of Perth Festival of Sail is coming to Perth Waters with a bonanza of sailing and social activities taking place from Sunday 29 January - Friday 3 February.
Posted today at 7:39 am
Vendee Globe - One tack holds key to Vendée Globe glory
Victory in the solo round the world race now comes down to one crucial last manoeuvre. With less than 40 miles separating Vendée Globe leader Armel Le Cléac'h from second-placed Alex Thomson this morning and under 400 nautical miles left to the finish line, victory in the solo round the world race now comes down to one crucial last manoeuvre.
Posted today at 6:57 am
Setting a new standard for not only solo sailing, but monohull sailing
Doyle Sailmakers is enjoying the down to the wire pace of this years 2017 Vendée Globe unfolding this week. Doyle Sailmakers is enjoying the down to the wire pace of this years 2017 Vendée Globe unfolding this week. With UK sailor, Alex Thomson, on board Hugo Boss, and Armel LeCléac’h just 42.2 nautical miles ahead, we have seen seamanship, racing skills, and the sheer skills of both sailors.
Posted today at 2:13 am
Vendee Globe - Thomson cuts 33nm out of Le Cleac'h with 48hrs left
Britain's Alex Thomson sailing Hugo Boss has made a big reduction in the lead of Armel Le Cleac'h Britain's Alex Thomson sailing Hugo Boss has made a big reduction in the lead of Armel Le Cleac'h in the final stages of the Vendee Globe Race. The official margin of just 45nm - a gain of 30nm in the last 24 hours was confirmed using the weather routing function of Predictwind. Most of Thomson's gain has come on the last seven hours.
Posted on 17 Jan
Zhik Xeflex® - your shield against cold environments
This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. How do you make a water resistant garment that really breathes, yet reflects your own body heat back to you? Where do you find a compression resistant and extremely insulating filling that is nowhere near as bulky as the Michelin Man, yet gives you that kind of warmth and comfort?
Posted on 17 Jan
Day 73 – Thomson running out of time in sprint to Vendée Globe finish
Armel Le Cléac'h has an advantage of just 69 miles on second-placed Alex Thomson as the race enters its final 500 miles. Frustratingly for the battling duo, despite already reaching the latitude of the finish line in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, they are being forced to sail much further north due to an anticyclone currently blocking their path home.
Posted on 17 Jan