Blake, revered by many as the greatest yachtsman of the modern era, was 24 when he took part in the first Whitbread as a watch captain onboard Burton Cutter. It proved to be the start of a 16-year obsession with a race that brought him plenty of adversity, ill fortune and failure before he finally led Steinlager 2 to a commanding victory in 1989-90.
Blake and his crew won all six legs in that fifth edition – an unprecedented achievement – and the 2.03 metre-tall Blake, instantly recognisable by his blond hair and moustache, could celebrate a life-long dream fulfilled.
"It was about time we won Everest, yeah, but there are a few more around that need to be looked at," said Blake, who would go on to achieve much more in sailing, but would never again take part in Race.
Knut Frostad, former Volvo Ocean Race CEO, labelled Sir Peter "the best there was in terms of seamanship". "He was an inspiration to me personally and to so many other sailors who have taken part in this race," he said. "He had incredible determination and was such a remarkable leader. It was not just the fact that he won so much, it was the way he did it. In terms of seamanship, he was the best there was, and he was a real gentleman."
Blake will also be remembered for one of most memorable quotes about the Volvo Ocean Race. “You'll be probably frightened at times, scared, worried. You'll hate it, you'll absolutely despise the fact that you're involved and when you get to the finish, you'll know why: because there's nothing like it. It gets in the blood and you can't get rid of it.”
Blake went on to help mastermind twin America's Cup wins for New Zealand –inspiring a national craze for wearing lucky red socks along the way – and worked tirelessly to raise environmental awareness.
Tragically, he was shot and killed by pirates in December 2001 while on a United Nations voyage in South America. He was just 53 and his death shocked a sport and a nation. His widow, Lady Pippa Blake, was named an ambassador to the Volvo Ocean Race Legends in 2011, when former participants competed for the Sir Peter Blake Trophy.