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Peter Blake Biography

Raised On The Seashore, A Life At Sea, World Champion Yacht Racer, Chronology, Wins America's Cup—and Keeps It

1948-2001

New Zealander yachtsman

Sir Peter Blake, perhaps more than any other sailor, was responsible for changing the public perception of ocean yacht racing from a daring adventure sport practiced by a few foolhardy souls, into an avidly followed professional sport whose top players are internationally acclaimed. Blake first made headlines in 1993, when he set a world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe under sail (in about 75 days). Then, in 1995, the New Zealand sailing team that he headed bested the Americans at their own game in the 144-year-old America's Cup race. This was only the second time in the history of the race that the trophy had been won from the Americans. In 2000, Blake led the New

Sir Peter Blake

Zealand team in a successful defense of the trophy, forever changing the tenor of the event, and firmly establishing Blake as an international celebrity.

Blake retired from racing following Team New Zealand's second America's Cup victory, and founded blakexpeditions, an nonprofit organization whose purpose is to help protect the world's oceans through scientific sailing voyages and educational programs. In 2001, while captaining one of his organization's first voyages, Blake was shot and killed by pirates off the coast of Brazil.

Knighted in 1995, Blake was a national hero in his homeland of New Zealand, on a par with the great New Zealand mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary, who, along with his Napali guide, Tenzing Norgan, was the first to scale Mt. Everest. Blake was known for his fairness and his straightforward desire to avoid politics and simply enjoy his chosen sport for its own sake. After Blake's death, his friend and frequent sailing partner, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, told the Independent of London, "Peter will be remembered as a giant in sailing over the last 20 years. He was a consummate seaman, excellent tactician, brilliant organizer, a natural leader and great company. He will be sorrowfully missed by all of us who had the pleasure to know and sail with him."

Sketch by Michael Belfiore

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