Please select your home edition
Edition
Fever-Tree 728x90

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





Barz Optics - FloatersSouthern Spars - 100Mackay Boats

Related Articles

Top Chinese sailor aims to inspire in hometown of Qingdao
24-year-old, better known by his nickname Black, is back in his home city of Qingdao as Extreme Sailing Series™ returns The 24-year-old, better known by his nickname Black, is back in his home city of Qingdao as the Extreme Sailing Series™ returns to China’s Olympic Sailing City for an incredible seventh time.
Posted today at 11:18 am
Sailing World Cup - Medal races on LIVE NOW - Day 1
Live coverage of the first day of Medal Racing at Sailing World Cup Hyeres starts at 12:00 CEST Live coverage of the first day of Medal Racing at Sailing World Cup Hyeres starts at 12:00 CEST . First up is the Mens 49er skiff
Posted today at 10:48 am
Annapolis to Newport Seminar - Navigation, Routing and Weather
Navigation, Routing and Weather, being held at the AYC Clubhouse, wraps up the popular and informative seminar series. Navigation, Routing and Weather, being held at the AYC Clubhouse, wraps up the popular and informative seminar series. There are few sailors anywhere in the United States who have logged as many ocean miles as Tarry Lomax and Tom Schubert.
Posted today at 8:01 am
Comanche on the warpath for Transpac record
Jim Clark’s 100-foot Comanche has joined fleet of 62 entries preparing for Transpacific YC’s biennial LA-Honolulu race Jim Clark’s 100-foot Comanche has recently joined the fleet of 62 entries currently preparing for the 49th edition of the Transpacific YC’s biennial LA-Honolulu race, with one goal: to set a new race record. This 100-foot carbon fiber ocean greyhound designed by VPLP/Verdier and built by Hodgdon Yachts in 2014 was created to be quite simply the fastest sailing yacht in the world
Posted today at 5:29 am
Countdown to Transpac - Under 70 days to go
With just under 70 days to go to the first start of 49th biennial Transpac, skippers and sailors, are all working hard With just under 70 days to go to the first start of the 49th biennial Transpac, skippers and sailors, sponsors, families, spectators and organizers from the Transpacific YC are all working hard on their preparation tasks for this classic 2225-mile race from LA to Honolulu. In all, 63 monohull and multihull entries from seven countries around the Pacific and beyond are now entered
Posted today at 5:17 am
RC44 Sotogrande Cup – Rain does not stay on the plain
Rain of Old Testament magnitude descended on Spain's Costa del Sol for day two. While the wind was not excessive Even as RC44 crews and race management surfaced for their breakfast this morning, it was evident that the onshore easterly breeze, that had been blowing all night, had caused the sea state to build to the extent that waves were already breaking over the harbour wall.
Posted on 28 Apr
28th May announced as the America’s Cup Endeavour Day
The America’s Cup Endeavour Program is the America’s Cup’s ambitious youth sailing and educational program The America’s Cup Endeavour Program is the America’s Cup’s ambitious youth sailing and educational program, dedicated to inspiring everybody who engages with the initiative and to leaving a sporting legacy in Bermuda that has a strong, positive impact on the community.
Posted on 28 Apr
Challenging Qingdao tests Extreme Sailing Series fleet in Act 2 opener
As the fleet of seven crews hit the water the wind was down to just a couple of knots, delaying the start of racing. China's Olympic Sailing City is renowned for its tricky weather conditions that can catch sailors off guard with sudden changes – and the opening day of Act 2 Qingdao 'Mazarin Cup' was a prime example.
Posted on 28 Apr
Extreme Sailing Series – Team Oman Air promise to bounce back
Qingdao is notorious for delivering tricky conditions that can change in an instant, and that's just what happened today After almost two hours of bobbing around waiting for enough wind to allow action to commence, a solid 15-knot breeze swept over the seven-strong fleet allowing three races to be held.
Posted on 28 Apr
Antigua Sailing Week – 8 teams contest Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge
Racing is done in two preliminary heats of three races each. The two top finishers of each heat go to the final round Racing is done in two preliminary heats of three races each. The two top finishers of each heat go to the final round, which also consists of three races. All races are approximately 15 to 20 minutes in length keeping them challenging and exciting to watch!
Posted on 28 Apr