Peter Blake (sailor)

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Sir Peter Blake
Peter Blake (yachtsman).jpg
Personal information
Birth namePeter James Blake
Born(1948-10-01)1 October 1948
Auckland, New Zealand
Died5 December 2001(2001-12-05) (aged 53)
Macapá, Brazil
CountryNew Zealand
TeamTeam New Zealand

Sir Peter James Blake KBE (1 October 1948 – 5 December 2001) was a New Zealand yachtsman who won the 1989–1990 Whitbread Round the World Race, held the Jules Verne Trophy from 1994 to 1997 by setting the fastest time around the world as co-skipper of ENZA New Zealand, and led his country to successive victories in the America's Cup.

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Yachting using water vessels, called yachts, for sporting purposes

Yachting refers to the use of recreational boats and ships called yachts for sporting purposes. Yachts are distinguished from working ships mainly by their leisure purpose.

The 1989–90 Whitbread Round the World Race was run from Southampton to Southampton in 1989–90. It was run with several classes. This race featured the first all-woman crew on Tracy Edwards' Maiden. Although in a much smaller boat than many of their male counterparts the women fared well—claiming two leg victories in Division D.


In honour of his services to yachting, Blake was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1995, and received an honorary doctorate in 2000 from Auckland University of Technology.

Auckland University of Technology university at Auckland

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is a university in New Zealand, formed on 1 January 2000 when a former technical college was granted university status. It has five faculties across three campuses in Auckland: City, North, and South campuses, and an additional three specialist locations: AUT Millennium, Warkworth Radio Astronomical Observatory and AUT Centre for Refugee Education.

Blake was shot and killed by pirates while monitoring environment change on the Amazon River on 5 December 2001. He was 53 years old.

Whitbread Round the World Race

Blake raced in the first, 1973–1974 Whitbread Round the World Race as watch captain on board Burton Cutter skippered by Les Williams. In the 1977–1978 race, he rejoined Les Williams and co-skipper Johnston on board Heaths Condor . For the 1981–1982 race, Blake mounted his own campaign as skipper of Ceramco New Zealand, a 68-foot (21 m) sloop designed by an up-and-coming naval architect called Bruce Farr.

The 1973–74 Whitbread Round the World Race, the first edition of the Whitbread Round the World Race, started off from Portsmouth, England on 8 September 1973. Seventeen yachts of various sizes and rigs took part. During the race three sailors were swept over board and died: Paul Waterhouse, Dominique Guillet and Bernie Hosking. Waterhouse and Guillet were never to be seen again.

The 1977–78 Whitbread Round the World Race was the second edition of the around-the-world sailing event Whitbread Round the World Race. On 27 August 1977, 15 boats started out from Southampton for the Whitbread Round the World Race under gale-force winds and driving rain. Most of the second Whitbread Race was dominated by a tight race between Swan 65 King's Legend and Flyer which eventually won the race. The 65 ft aluminium ketch Flyer was designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built at the W. Huisman shipyard in 1977 for skipper Cornelius van Rietschoten. All 15 boats finished the 26,780-nautical-mile (49,600 km) race. Great Britain II was winner on elapsed time for the second race in succession. This race was notable for the fact that Clare Francis became the first woman to skipper a Whitbread entry, the Swan 65 ADC Accutrac.

<i>Condor of Bermuda</i>

Condor of Bermuda was a maxi yacht campaigning under the leadership and funding of London-based international businessman Bob Bell. Originally called Condor but renamed Heath's Condor for the 1977–78 Whitbread Round the World Race after Bell's association with Heath's Insurance Co (London). There is no link with former British prime minister Edward Heath of Morning Cloud yachting fame. Condor was then later renamed Condor of Bermuda, as government policy in the UK during the 1970s effectively exiled the financing of such a campaign by making the funding and domiciling of such an endeavour from the home countries a practical impossibility.

He returned for the 1985–1986 race as one of the race favourites, skipper of Lion New Zealand, sponsored by the Lion Brewery. He won the 1989–1990 Whitbread race, where he skippered Steinlager 2 to an unprecedented clean sweep of line, handicap and overall honours on each of the race's six legs.

The 1985–86 Whitbread Round the World Race was the fourth edition of the Whitbread Round the World Race. Fifteen boats started out from Southampton on 28 September 1985 for the around-the-world race.

<i>Steinlager 2</i>

Steinlager 2 is a yacht. Skippered by Peter Blake, she won the 1989–90 Whitbread Round the World Race and line honours in the 1989 Fastnet Race. She was the only yacht to ever win all six legs of the Whitbread Round the World Race.

America's Cup

Brought in at the last minute by Carl McKenzie to manage New Zealand's 1992 America's Cup challenge, Blake led the Kiwi team to the challenger finals with NZL-20. However, Italy emerged from the controversial series with the Louis Vuitton Cup, and went on to face America³ in the America's Cup match.

The 28th America's Cup was contested between the winner of the 1992 Citizen Cup defender selection series, America³, and the winner of the 1992 Louis Vuitton Cup challenger selection series, Il Moro di Venezia. It was the first edition of the America's Cup that was sailed on International America's Cup Class yachts.

Louis Vuitton Cup

The Louis Vuitton Cup was a yachting competition connected with the America's Cup. Since 1983 until 2017, the Louis Vuitton Cup was used as the selection series in any year where multiple yachting syndicates are vying for the right to become the challenger for the America's Cup. Starting in 2017, a new Louis Vuitton Challenger’s Trophy was created—it was presented, for the first time, to the winner of the 2017 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs, the competition held to determine the challenger in that year's America's Cup.

America3 is the name of both a syndicate that vied for the America's Cup in 1992 and 1995 and its boats.

Blake was back for the 1995 America's Cup challenge, this time as the syndicate head of Team New Zealand. With NZL 32, "Black Magic", they made a clean sweep, beating Dennis Conner 5–0. Blake's "lucky red socks" (a present from his wife) became something of a trademark. It was commonplace to see New Zealanders sport red socks or fly them from car aerials during the Cup races and a highly successful "fundraising edition" of official red socks emblazoned with the sail numbers of the two NZL yachts was produced to help fund the syndicate. Subsequently, following his murder, red socks became a badge of mourning to his many admirers.

1995 Americas Cup

The 29th America's Cup was contested between the winner of the 1995 Citizen Cup, Team Dennis Conner, with the yacht Young America (USA–36), and the winner of the 1995 Louis Vuitton Cup, Team New Zealand, with the yacht Black Magic. New Zealand won five races straight to take the cup away from the US for only the second time in 144 years.

Team New Zealand or TNZ is a sailing team based in Auckland, New Zealand representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

<i>NZL 32</i>

NZL 32, or Black Magic, is an International Americas Cup Class yacht which won the 1995 America's Cup by defeating the American defender Young America in a 5–0 victory off San Diego, California.

In the 2000 America's Cup, Team New Zealand, still led by Blake, became the first non-American team to successfully defend the Americas Cup, beating Prada 5–0. Following this defence, Blake stood down from the team.

Blake was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1996. [1]

Post racing

In 1997, Blake became the Cousteau Society's head of expeditions, and skipper of the Antarctic Explorer, which he later purchased from the Society and renamed Seamaster. After leaving the Society he led expeditions to Antarctica and the Amazon aboard Seamaster during 2001. [2] The same year Blake was named special envoy for the UN Environment Programme. [3] He began filming documentaries for blakexpeditions, a company he founded.

Death and legacy

On 5 December 2001, pirates shot and killed Blake while he was on an environmental exploration trip in South America, monitoring global warming and pollution for the United Nations. The two-month expedition was anchored off Macapá, Brazil, at the mouth of the Amazon delta, waiting to clear customs after a trip up the Amazon river. At around 9 p.m. a group of six to eight armed, masked robbers wearing balaclavas and crash helmets boarded the Seamaster. As one of the robbers held a gun to the head of a crewmember, Blake sprang from the cabin wielding a rifle. He shot one of the assailants in the hand before the rifle malfunctioned; he was then fatally shot in the back by assailant Ricardo Colares Tavares. [3] [4] The boarders injured two other crew members with knives, and the remaining seven were unhurt. [5]

The only thing seized by the attackers was a 15 hp outboard motor and some watches from the crew. Authorities eventually captured the pirates and sentenced them to an average of 32 years in prison each; Tavares, the man who fired the fatal shots, received a sentence of 36 years. [3] Prior to the attack, the yacht's crew had been very careful when travelling up the river and back down again; they always had crew members on watch. Only upon return to Macapa did they relax their guard.

Blake is survived by his wife Pippa, Lady Blake, and their two children Sarah-Jane and James. Blake's environmental and leadership legacy is continued by The Sir Peter Blake Trust, a non-profit organisation based in New Zealand.

Around 30,000 people attended a memorial service held for Blake at the Auckland Domain on 23 December 2001, and included tributes from Blake's family, the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, the Brazilian Ambassador, and Neil and Tim Finn. [6] Helen Clark spent a night aboard the Seamaster three weeks prior to the attack. [7] She called Blake a "living legend" and a "national hero" [8] in her eulogy she said in part: "Our small nation went into shock. Peter Blake was a living legend. As an outstanding sailor, he had brought great honour and fame to New Zealand. His death was unthinkable."

Blake is buried at Warblington churchyard, near Emsworth on the south coast of England. It is a pilgrimage destination for New Zealanders,[ citation needed ] who sometimes leave New Zealand coins on the headstone. Emsworth is where Pippa and Peter settled and raised their two children. His headstone bears the words of John Masefield's famous poem, Sea-Fever : "I must down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky, and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by....".

In October 2002, the International Olympic Committee posthumously awarded the Olympic Order, one of its highest honours, to Blake. [9] In December 2003, the Sir Peter Blake Trust was established, with the support of the Blake family, "to help New Zealanders make a positive difference for the planet through activities that encourage environmental awareness and action, and leadership development."

The Trust has a range of initiatives, including the annual Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards. These awards consist of the Blake Medal, awarded each year to an outstanding New Zealand leader, and the Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Awards, presented annually to six people recognised as younger leaders of considerable potential. The winners of the Blake Medal, in order starting 2005, are John Anderson, Stephen Tindall, Paul Callaghan, Murray Halberg, John Hood (university administrator), Ray Avery, Margaret Bazley, John Graham, Mick Brown, Peter Jackson, Rob Fenwick, [10] Peter Gluckman, Mason Durie and Tariana Turia.

Seamaster was originally built in France. After Blake's death she was eventually purchased by Étienne Bourgois and renamed Tara expedition. She continues to undertake successful expeditions.

Related Research Articles

Americas Cup yachting race

The America's Cup, affectionately known as the Auld Mug, is a trophy awarded to the winner of the America's Cup match races between two sailing yachts. One yacht, known as the defender, represents the yacht club that currently holds the America's Cup and the second yacht, known as the challenger, represents the yacht club that is challenging for the cup. The timing of each match is determined by an agreement between the defender and the challenger. The America's Cup is the oldest international sporting trophy. It will next be raced for in the southern summer, in the early part of 2021.

Bruce Kenneth Farr, OBE, is a highly successful designer of racing and cruising yachts. Farr‑designed boats have won, challenged for, or placed highly in the Whitbread Round the World Race, America's Cup, and Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, among others.

Brad Butterworth New Zealand Yacht Racer

Bradley William Butterworth,, is a yachtsman known for the role he played as tactician and skipper in the America's Cup for Team New Zealand and the Alinghi team of Switzerland.

Robin Knox-Johnston British yacht racer

Sir William Robert Patrick "Robin" Knox-JohnstonRD and bar is a British sailor. In 1969, he became the first person to perform a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. Along with Sir Peter Blake, he won the second Jules Verne Trophy, for which they were also named the ISAF Yachtsman of the Year award. In 2007, at the age of 67, he set a record as the oldest yachtsman to complete a round the world solo voyage in the Velux 5 Oceans Race.

<i>Tara</i> expedition schooner

The Tara expedition is a research expedition through the ice of the Arctic.

Chris Dickson (sailor) New Zealand yacht racer

Christopher Stuart "Chris" Dickson,, is a sailor from New Zealand. He was world youth champion three years in succession and later became world match race champion three times. He also skippered several yachts in America's Cup racing, and for New Zealand at the 2000 Summer Olympics, and in numerous other sailing competitions.

The 1997–98 Whitbread Round the World Race was the seventh edition of the around-the-world sailing event Whitbread Round the World Race. The Whitbread Round the World Race ran for the first time with all W60 boats and to a "points vs time" scoring system to enhance the value of the shorter race legs.

The 4th Louis Vuitton Cup was held in San Diego, United States in 1995. The winner, Team New Zealand, went on to challenge for and win the 1995 America's Cup.

1992 Louis Vuitton Cup

The 3rd Louis Vuitton Cup was held in San Diego, United States in 1992. The winner, Il Moro di Venezia, went on to challenge for the 1992 America's Cup.

Conny van Rietschoten Dutch yacht racer

Cornelis "Conny" van Rietschoten was a Dutch yacht skipper who was the only skipper to win the Whitbread Round the World Race twice.

New Zealand Challenge was a sailing team funded by Michael Fay that challenged for the America's Cup three times between 1987 and 1992. New Zealand Challenge was the first team from New Zealand to enter the competition.

Daedalus is a maxi-catamaran, that participated in numerous open-ocean races under various owners and names.

Grant Stanley Dalton,, is a New Zealand sailor who has competed in five Whitbread Round the World Races and currently manages Team New Zealand.

Kevin Shoebridge is a New Zealand sailor who has sailed in multiple Volvo Ocean Races and America's Cups.

Matthew Mason is a New Zealand sailor.

Ross "Rosco" Halcrow is a New Zealand sailor who has won both the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race.

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Sean Clarkson is a New Zealand sailor who has sailed at the Summer Olympics and in multiple Whitbread Round the World Races and America's Cups.


  1. "Inductees". Herreshoff Marine Museum. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  2. McCormick, Herb (7 December 2001). "On Yachting; Peter Blake's Legacy Spans the World". New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  3. 1 2 3 "Long sentences for Blake murder". BBC News. 19 June 2002. Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  4. Wise, Mike (28 December 2002). "YACHT RACING; A Year Later, Blake's Widow Searches for Strength". New York Times . Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  5. "Sir Peter Blake murdered". TVNZ . 7 December 2001. Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  6. Beynon, Geoff (24 December 2001). "Scoop Images: Sir Peter Blake Memorial Service". Scoop . Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  7. "Tributes to a sailing legend". BBC Sport . 6 December 2001. Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  8. "PM's eulogy for Sir Peter Blake". The official website of the New Zealand Government, para 6. 6 December 2001. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  9. "Blake honoured by IOC". BBC Sport. 12 December 2001. Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  10. "The alumni". Sir Peter Blake Trust. Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015.