Remembering Sir Peter Blake 16 Years On
“It is 16 years since we lost Volvo Ocean Race legend Sir Peter Blake,” Jonno Turner writes for sailing news network Sail-World. “A three-time Ocean Race skipper, he finally achieved his dream of lifting the trophy at his fifth attempt, with Steinlager 2 in 1989-90. And boy, did he do it in style with a clean sweep in one of the greatest campaigns in the Race’s history.
“[Auckland-born] Blake, revered by many as the greatest yachtsman of the modern era, was 24 when he took part in the first Whitbread as a watch captain onboard Burton Cutter.
“It proved to be the start of a 16-year obsession with a race that brought him plenty of adversity, ill fortune and failure before he finally secured that commanding victory in 1989-90.
“Blake and his crew won all six legs in that fifth edition – an unprecedented achievement – and the 2.03 metre-tall sailor, instantly recognisable by his blond hair and moustache, could finally celebrate a life-long dream fulfilled.
“Knut Frostad, former Volvo Ocean Race CEO, labelled Blake ‘the best there was in terms of seamanship’.
“He continued: ‘He was an inspiration to me personally and to so many other sailors who have taken part in this race. He had incredible determination and was such a remarkable leader.
“‘It was not just the fact that he won so much, it was the way he did it. In terms of seamanship, he was the best there was, and he was a real gentleman.’
“Blake went on to help mastermind twin America’s Cup wins for New Zealand – inspiring a national craze for wearing lucky red socks along the way – and worked tirelessly to raise environmental awareness.
“Tragically, he was shot and killed by pirates in December 2001 while on a United Nations voyage in South America. He was just 53 and his death shocked a sport and a nation.
“His widow, Lady Pippa Blake, was named an ambassador to the Volvo Ocean Race Legends in 2011, when former participants competed for the Sir Peter Blake Trophy.”
Original article by Jonno Turner, Sail-World, December 6, 2017.
Photo by Roger Lean-Vercoe.