After the disappointment of being forced out by hull damage last year, the pair took their 92ft yacht across the finish line off Ushant, near Brest, 74 days 22 hours 17 minutes and 22 seconds after starting in January.
Enza was due at 8am, but did not make it until noon. First to congratulate them was Bruno Peyron, the Frenchman who was first to break the 80-day barrier to win the Jules Verne Trophy. He was happy to hand it over. 'They did a fantastic job, superb,' he said. 'It's the first time that Anglo-Saxon yachtsmen have responded to a French initiative in such a determined way. It is about time that someone woke the French up like this.'
With gale-force winds screaming and piling up a huge swell, they and the crew of six had to complete the final miles with the minimum of sail. With the wind gusting over 60 knots, they streamed ropes and anchor chain from the stern to slow the yacht down.
'In the last 24 hours the crew has earned this record,' Blake said. 'It is some of the most extreme sailing conditions we have ever seen or are likely to. We pushed the boat as hard as it could, sometimes harder than we should. '
Knox-Johnston, who said he most wanted a pint of Guinness, was reminded he had been the slowest man around the world when first to do it single-handed, non-stop in the 32ft Suhaili in 1969, taking 312 days. Now, at 54, he has become the fastest, but it was left to the crewman Ed Danby to admit how close they came to disaster when they were at 62 degrees South and skirting the Antarctic. 'We knew there was ice, checked on the radar, but couldn't see it. Then we realised that within a boat's length each side there were growlers about the size of a house with only the tops exposed. We squeezed through.'Reuse content