Monday, 24 November 2014, 9.55 a.m, Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON,75, enters the majestic mango tree courtyard of Lycée Gerville-Réache high school. A thunderous applause of more than 1500 pupils and staff members surrounds Sir Robin, the emotion is at its height. Gerville-Réache was welcoming a living legend, in fact, a pioneer of sea navigation.
Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON became, in 1969, the first man to perform a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the globe in 312 days. He was also the second winner of the Jules Verne trophy together with Sir Peter Blake. In addition, he served in the Merchant Navy and the Royal Naval Reserve. He’s the only British sailor to be awarded the title of “Yachtsman of the year.” He was dubbed a knight bachelor in 1995, that’s why he is called “Sir.”
A short video extract from B.B.C, showing him getting prepared for the 2014 Route du Rhum( a sailing competition from Saint Malo, France to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe), sparked our students’ interest in him. The students then studied his biography.
During the 2014 Route du Rhum race, the students were in contact with his team and himself. A greeting committee was formed, very much encouraged by our headmistress, Mrs TROUILLEFOU, who offered to help by supervising the creation of a welcoming banner for Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON. The Pen Duick company, which organised the Route du Rhum, was impressed by such an initiative and offered the students three seats on board the press speed boat to greet our illustrious guest in the town of Pointe-à-Pître.He later mentioned that he was deeply moved when he saw his custom made welcoming banner.
During the meeting with our students, this great sailor gave us important advice about life:
“You’ve got to put all the effort in what you want to achieve.”
“We must always be in action.”
”Everything is possible.”
“Whatever your nationality,your ethnic group,your social background is,the thing that we should value most are human qualities and experiences.”
Sebastien, a freshman student from 2nde 8 exclaimed: “This great man gave us a contagious vitality!”
Before leaving our high school, Sir Robin congratulated our students on their good command of the English language.
Maryse PREIRA-GUILLOD, professeur d’anglais.