Meet Britain’s Best Sailors

Three Peaks Yacht Race

As you may have heard, five (bold/crazy) members of the Go Ape tribe have signed-up to take part in one of the world’s oldest, longest and toughest endurance races: the Three Peaks Yacht Race (#3PYR).

Collectively, the team will run 72 miles, cycle 18 miles, and sail a jaw-dropping 389 miles up the notoriously wet ‘n’ wild west coast. That’s some serious sea miles – but thankfully, team Go Ape has some highly-experienced sailors in its midst, who are ready to (quite literally) take the helm and sail the team to success! That is, if they’re able to control their seasickness when things get a little choppy…

In aid of #3PYR, we’re taking a look at some of Britain’s best boatmen and women. Sailors who have achieved things many of us can only dream of, and who are inspiring Jerome, Tris, Mike, Ed and Paul to train hard so they can get out there and show the land and sea who’s boss!

Dame Ellen MacArthur

Dame Ellen MacArthur shot to international sailing fame back in 2005 when she broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe, which she completed in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds. Sailing alone, Ellen had to be on constant lookout and never had more than 20 minutes of sleep at any one time. That’s dedication.

Now retired from professional sailing, Dame Ellen dedicates her time to her two charities: the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is focused on inspiring our generation to re-think, re-design and build a positive future circular economy.

Sir Ben Ainslie

It would be criminal not to give mention to Sir Ben Ainslie, aka, the most successful sailor in Olympic history. Sir Ben won four gold medals at four consecutive Olympic Games, and is the first person to bag five medals from five different sailing events.

Sir Ben started sailing at the ripe of eight, competing in his first race two years later and finishing in 73rd place. His next challenge – which he’s dubbed his ‘ultimate challenge’ – is to bring the America’s Cup back to Britain for the first time in around 165 years. He will head a team of some of the best British and international sailors in hope of winning the prestigious trophy.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

In 1969, English sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to perform a single-handed, non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. And while most people are retired and ‘winding down’ aged 67, Sir Robin had other plans, sailing into the record books as the oldest yachtsman to compete (yet another) solo round-the-world trip in the VELUX 5 Oceans Race. Go Sir Robin!

John Merricks

John Merricks represented our country at Atlanta’s 1996 Summer Olympics, winning a silver medal in the 470 class with his teammate, Ian Walker. Sadly, Merrick died in a car accident in Italy in 1997, but his legacy lives on through the John Merricks Sailing Trust, of which Sir Ben Ainslie is the first patron. Over 16 years, more than £335,000 has been raised to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations achieve their goals.

Sarah Ayton

Sarah Ayton OBE has won two gold medals for sailing; the first during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and second during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. But, she’s not going to stop there: Sarah’s ambition is to add to her medal collection, and will be hoping her lucky red socks will help her do just that!

Think we’ve missed anyone out? Who would make your list of Britain’s best sailors?