It's 18 years since we sadly lost The Ocean Race legend, Sir Peter Blake.
Blake competed in a hat-trick of Races as skipper – finally achieving his dream of lifting The Ocean Race trophy at the fifth attempt, with Steinlager 2 in 1989-90.
That win made history as the first New Zealand-flagged boat to win The Ocean Race, and the manner of victory left an indelible mark on the Race.
Blake led Steinlager 2 to a clean sweep in the most dominant campaign in the Race's near-50 year history, winning every single one of the six legs – the first time that feat had been achieved since 1981-82, when the Race comprised four stages.
The journey to victory had been a long one for Blake, who first competed in the Race as a 24-year-old crew onboard Burton Cutter in the 1973-74 edition.
That experience proved the beginning of a 16-year obsession with the Race – he famously went on to describe the competition as something that 'gets in your blood... and you can't get rid of it' – and by the time the 1989-90 edition came around, Blake was ready to take a radical and risky step in search of victory.
His idea for Steinlager 2 was to build the biggest and heaviest yacht in the Race, carrying 20 percent more sail area than its rivals.
True to Blake's luck in the race up to that point, the initial yacht built had to be scrapped at the fitting-out stage after large areas of the high-tech carbon fibre-moulded hull were found to have delaminated. The delay cost two months of preparation, almost putting paid to Blake's campaign.
But once the Race began, there was no stopping Blake and his crew on Steinlager 2 as they swept all before them, culminating in a legendary battle into their home port of Auckland, against fellow NZ boat, Fisher & Paykel, led by Grant Dalton.
As the pair raced into the City of Sails, just a mile separated the boats, and a match race was underway. The battle that ensued was one of the most memorable in sailing history, as Blake got the better of his opponent to steal the honours in his hometown.
Blake's legends lives on through the Race today. Blake's son, James, was an Onboard Reporter in the 2017-18 edition – and on Thursday, The Ocean Race announced a return to Auckland in 2021-22 – a twelfth visit to New Zealand in 14 editions.
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