Sir Peter Blake (October 1, 1948 - December 6, 2001) was a New Zealand yachtsman who led his country to two successive America's Cup victories. He won the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. In 1995 he was knighted for services to yachting and New Zealand.
Sir Peter Blake, 53, was murdered by pirates. A group of seven or eight armed, masked robbers wearing balaclavas and crash helmets boarded his yacht, Seamaster, while Blake was on an environmental exploration trip in South America for Blake Expeditions. Sir Peter was shot and died instantly. Two other crewmembers were injured, and the remaining seven were unhurt.
The two month expedition was anchored off Macapa, at the mouth of the Amazon delta, waiting to clear customs after their trip up the Amazon river. The assailants are believed to have been a local pirate group known as the Water Rats, whose booty was a 15hp outboard motor and some watches. The pirates were soon captured and sentenced to 32 years in prison each.
Sir Peter is survived by his wife Lady Pippa Blake and their two children Sarah-Jane and James. Blake won the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994 by setting the fastest time around the world of 74 days 22 hours 17 minutes 22 seconds on catamaran Enza. National Geographic has stated that Blake Expeditions plans to continue Blake's environmental work.
Whitbread Round the World Race
Blake is the only sailor to have taken part in the first five Whitbread Round the World races.
In 1974, Blake competed in his first Whitbread race as a watch officer on Les Williams' and Alan Smith's damage-riddled Burton Cutter.
In the 1977-78 race, he rejoined Les Williams this time with co-skipper Robin Knox-Johnston on board Heath’s Condor
For the 1981-82 race, Blake mounted his own campaign as skipper of Ceramco New Zealand, a 68ft sloop designed by an up-and-coming naval architect called Bruce Farr.
Blake returned to the Whitbread Round the World race in 1985 with one of the race favourites, Lion New Zealand, sponsored by the Lion Brewery.
In the 1989-90 Whitbread race, Blake skippered Steinlager to an unprecedented clean sweep. His team walked off with line, handicap and overall honors on each of the race's six legs.
Brought in at the last minute by Michael Fay to manage New Zealand's 1992 America's Cup challenge, Blake led the Kiwi team to the challenger finals with NZL-20. However, Italy emerged from the controversial series with the Louis Vuitton Cup, and went on to face America³ in the America's Cup match.
In 1995 Blake was back, this time as the syndicate head of Team New Zealand.
His Death and His Legacy
On October 23, 2002 the International Olympic Committee awarded the Olympic Order, one of its highest honors, posthumously to Blake.