Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to take on new transatlantic challenge

Veteran British sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is to return to solo ocean racing this November when he takes part in the Route du Rhum at the age of 75.

He was the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1968-69.

And his latest challenge, starting in November, will see him travel 3,500 miles from St Malo to Guadeloupe

"I think all too often society expects us to put our feet up and watch television and frankly society is wrong," Knox-Johnston told BBC South.

"The more active we are in life, the longer we will go on."

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I'm fired up. I just want to get my boat sorted and test her out. Then I'll go off to the Atlantic on my own and make sure I'm mentally ready

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Knox-Johnston last competed in the race, which takes place every four years, in 1982 in his 70-foot catamaran Olympus, but will be aboard his Open 60 entry, Grey Power, for the 10th anniversary edition.

"When I did the Sydney to Hobart race last year, I realised how much I'd been missing my racing," he said.

"I thought I've got this perfectly good fast boat sitting here in Gosport, why don't I take it out and do what I love, which is single-handed racing.

"Solo sailing is where I feel most at home. No-one else can benefit you or let you down - it is all in my hands. The Route de Rhum is one of the classics; it is a very well-run race."

The competitors will leave the French coast on 2 November and cross the Bay of Biscay before reaching squally climes in the Trade Wind belt, before finishing in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

The first edition of the race in 1978 was won by Canadian Mike Birch after a nail-biting finish but was marred by the disappearance of French sailor, Alain Colas, who was lost at sea.

The 2014 race is open to mono and multihull boats across four classes with almost 80 entrants.

Sir Robin, who celebrates the 45th anniversary of his solo, 312-day circumnavigation of the globe on 22 April, will be racing in the Rhum class and will start serious practice once the current Clipper Round the World Yacht Race finishes in July.

"I've had a very rewarding life," he added. "Sailing around the world single handed back in 68-69 was a big one, I've had some great times.

"I'm really looking forward to it. I'm fired up. I just want to get my boat sorted and test her out. Then I'll go off to the Atlantic on my own and make sure I'm mentally ready."