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In fond memory
One of the most widely respected and successful ocean sailors, Peter Blake won the prestigious Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. He captured the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994 awarded to the fastest craft to sail around the world unassisted and without stopping. He also headed Team New Zealand to their historic first triumph in the America's Cup of 1995. Five years later, he became an America's Cup legend when New Zealand became the first non-American entry to retain the trophy in 149 years. He was named New Zealand's Sportsman of the Year twice and Yachtsman of the Year four times.
Tragically, Blake was murdered by pirates while leading an environmental expedition on the Amazon River on December 5, 2001. He was killed by two shots in the back and his death shocked the world, especially New Zealand where he was a national hero. Later that month, he was posthumously awarded the Olympic Order by the International Olympic Committee, one of its highest honours. Over 30,000 gathered in Auckland for his memorial service.
In 2002, he was posthumously given both the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award and the Laureus Sport for Good Award in honour of the outstanding contribution he made to society through sport over the years. Blake's two awards were presented by Hollywood legend Sir Sean Connery and accepted on his behalf by his widow Lady Pippa and their two children.
Lady Pippa said: “We were very, very proud of Peter. He believed in all that Laureus and Sport for Good stood for. He really believed in making a difference, and I think perhaps we can all make a difference.”
A meticulous planner and a gifted leader, Blake's fierce determination to win has always inspired immense loyalty from his crews and unlimited confidence from his backers. The combination of his remarkable management skills and his singular yachting achievements led to a string of honours, including being knighted as Sir Peter Blake before he was 50.
Blake was the only man to compete in the first five Whitbreads and his 1989 victory in Steinlager 2 came with an unprecedented clean sweep as his team walked off with line, handicap and overall honours on each of the race's six legs.
In 1995, Blake headed the Team New Zealand syndicate as they became only the second non-American team to win the America's Cup in the event's 144-year history. With the inspirational Blake on board as a crewmember, the New Zealanders crossed the line first in all but one race and swept the final series against San Diego Yacht Club's Team Dennis Conner 5-0.
After being inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1996, Blake was back as the syndicate head of Team New Zealand for their title defence in America's Cup 2000. They became the first non-American entry to retain the trophy in 149 years after whitewashing Italian challengers Prada 5-0.