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Sir Robin, 75, grabs third place

Skipper just misses out on second spot in Route du Rhum transatlantic race by 17 miles

LEGENDARY yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has belied his 75 years and finished in an astonishing third place in the Route du Rhum solo transatlantic sailing race.

The first man to sail non-stop round the world said he was “absolutely over the moon, ecstatic to get third”.

He sailed his Grey Power 4,416 nautical miles in 20 and a half days and after nearly three weeks of being able to grab only snatches of sleep he sailed a brilliant race over the last nine days to make up 200 miles on second-placed Italian Andrea Mura.

He missed out on the runner’s up spot by just 17 miles when the wind dropped just off Guadeloupe.

The Rhum class was won by Frenchwoman Anne Caseneuve who did the Saint-Malo to Pointe-a-Pitre, distance in 17 and a half days. The route itself is measured at 3,542 nautical miles but her course in the trimaran Aneo took her over 4,740 nautical miles.

She praised Sir Robin, saying: “I learned that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was third. It's really magic, he’s a great sailor.”

Sir Robin said: "My race was slow to start but got faster as I went along and it was great because I had three other boats in the same class who were close and we were all very equal, and so that made it great.

"The hard bits were the first days and coming round the island at the end.

"The constituents which make this race great are: Saint Malo at the start, we are racing to Guadeloupe which is wonderful and it is an interesting course to follow. It has everything right, it really does.

"The competition was excellent, I loved watching to see how I was gaining or losing, that made it really fun.
"The low point was the English Channel and last night was one to forget, it was pretty much pandemonium at times. I tore the reaching sail and had a Chinese gybe."

Saying he would be back again next year, but in a smaller boat, he added: "I do this because I enjoy it. And there are some great sailors to race against. We are all competing and it is a wonderful sport to be in. So why give it up? If you can still do it, do it!"

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