The remarkable untold story of the first New Zealanders to sail around the world
, 2022-11-05 11:00:00,
In 1951, 18-year-old Tony Armit began building a yacht in his backyard. The remarkable story of how he and a rugby mate went on to become the first New Zealanders to sail around the world has remained virtually unknown outside yachting circles. But, as Mike White discovers, Armit’s circumnavigation has finally been recounted, nearly 70 years after their astonishing voyage.
Everything above deck was a total disaster.
The boom on Tony Armit’s tiny yacht, Marco Polo, was snapped; its dinghy smashed and swept away; and other equipment had disappeared, washed overboard by a monstrous wave.
Below deck, things were worse.
Their pump had stopped working, and water was pouring in, flooding Marco Polo as it floundered somewhere off South Africa’s coast.
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At some stage in the cartwheeling chaos, Armit’s crewmate, Tig Loe, had sliced his knee open and badly gashed his thigh.
Twisting a tourniquet around his leg, Loe desperately helped bail the small yacht, as Armit nailed window shutters in place to staunch the water flowing in.
Armit tried to keep Marco Polo’s bow into the waves, which he guessed were close to 8m. But time and again the little ketch was caught broadside and flung into the pit of the swell.
Then one caught…
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