The South Carolina resident set his sights on the sea when he received a sailing trip as a 16th birthday present.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LORDSTOWN -- Life is full of challenges, and whether people overcome them depends on how the problems are addressed.
That was the message Robin Davie, who has sailed solo around the world three times, delivered to Lordstown High School students this week.
"All through your life there will be challenges," the Cornwall, England native told Lordstown High School students Tuesday. "It's a matter of deciding in your mind at the outset -- Do you give up or do you keep going?"
Davie, who lives in Charleston, S.C., said he wasn't a good student and often was in trouble in school. But for his 16th birthday, he received a sailing trip in the North Sea.
He caught the sailing bug and decided on a career in the Merchant Navy.
"It was about that time that I heard about the first people who were sailing around the world and I thought that one day I wanted to do that," Davie said.
He served with the Merchant Navy for 20 years, spending most of his time on large ships.
He'd work for 10 months each year and return home for the remaining two months.
Heard of race: Davie spent several of those free months building a yacht in the yard behind his home and in 1980 heard of the first solo sailboat race around the world, which was scheduled for 1982.
He wanted to sign up, but he'd never been on a boat alone before.
Davie decided to make a trial run and sailed from Cornwall to Cape Town, South Africa. The trip took 100 days.
"I learned everything that I didn't know," he said. "Don't be afraid to try something because you don't automatically know it all. All that can happen is that you'll make a mistake."
It took until 1990 before Davie was able to raise enough money and get a boat capable of making the 27,000-mile, around-the-world trip.
A high-paying job in the mid-1980s during the Iraq-Iran conflict allowed him to earn enough money to make the trip.
"If you really want it to happen and really work at it, believe me, it will happen," Davie said.
Three trips: The first trip brought storms, rain, hail and freezing temperatures. But storms at least move the boat quickly. What's worse is the calm when your boat is going nowhere, Davie said.
He finished the race in 1991, one of 18 racers to complete the course. About 500 people had inquired about the race, 56 people took out entries, and 28 made it to the start.
Davie sailed the world alone again in 1994 and despite losing his mast near Cape Horn, completed the race.
He was disqualified in Auckland, New Zealand, during the 1998 race when he broke a rudder and experienced steering difficulties.
Despite the difficulties he encountered, Davie hopes to sail around the world a fourth time.
That would make him the only person to make the solo trip four times.
A lack of money will likely prevent him from entering the next race in September. The races occur every two years.
"Go after everything with a positive attitude," Davie told the students. "You might as well because you're only on this earth once."