55 / Sir Peter Blake

(1949–2001)

New Zealand’s best-known yachtsman, Peter Blake grew up in Bayswater on Auckland’s North Shore, and was racing his own P-class dinghy at the age of eight. He began his international sailing career in the inaugural Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro race in 1971. After four attempts in the Whitbread Round the World race, he skippered Steinlager 2 to victory in 1989–1990. In 1992 he managed New Zealand’s challenge for the America’s Cup, and again three years later when Team New Zealand’s Black Magic won the coveted trophy. Blake himself always claimed his victories were down to a single pair of lucky red socks given him by his wife. He wore them for every race – the only time New Zealand lost in the entire series was when Peter was not on board. The emblematic red socks later helped raise funds for the team’s coffers and, in mourning Peter’s death, people left hundreds of pairs outside the Team New Zealand campaign headquarters. 1995 saw him knighted for services to yachting, and in 2000 he led Team New Zealand’s successful defence of the America’s Cup. Sir Peter Blake led expeditions to Antarctica and the Amazon, but in December 2001 he was murdered by pirates while in Brazil. He was buried in Hampshire, England, where he had lived.


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