Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has paid tribute to Derek Hatfield, the first Canadian to race solo around the world twice. The Nova Scotia sailor died suddenly at the age of 63.

Derek Hatfield gained international recognition for sailing solo around the world twice.

He was the first Canadian to achieve the feat.

HIs death at the age of 63 has shocked the sailing community.

Sail Nova Scotia, which promotes and encourages sailing, announced the sailor’s death on 31 July via its Facebook page.

“Sailors across the Maritimes, Canada and the world today mourn the death of the great Derek Hatfield, a true champion of offshore sailing at all levels and a tremendous ambassador for the sport,” it said.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and their children,” it stated.

Hatfield’s friend, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, also added his condolences, and those of the staff at Clipper Ventures.

“Derek was a hard, tough solo sailor, but beneath that exterior there was a good companion and friend,” said Sir Robin.

“Like so many solo sailors, he struggled to get the financial support he needed, but his determination to participate meant that he made the start line. Canada has lost one of its great solo sailors and I have lost a friend,” he added.

Derek Hatfield

Derek Hatfield. Credit: Clipper Round the World


Hatfield’s friend, sailor Eric Holden, also paid tribute to him.

“He was an inspiration to follow one’s dreams and not be deterred despite what seemed insurmountable challenges,” he told the Canadian press.

“He achieved what many sailors only dream of,” added Holden.

Hatfield’s last circumnavigation was in October 2010 when he finished third in the Velux 5 Oceans Race –  becoming the first Canadian to race solo around the world twice.

His first voyage around the world was in 2002-2003, when he took part in the Around Alone race.

He sailed the 28,700 nautical miles in his 40-foot sailboat, Spirit of Canada.

The vessel, which had been built with the help of friends and family, was heavily damaged in the voyage as a result of storms.

In 2008-2009, Hatfield became the second Canadian to participate in the Vendée Globe, 12 years after Gerry Roufs.

For Hatfield, the experience ended in a retirement.

He capsized in a storm to the south of Australia, which caused the breakage of two spreaders.

Details of how or when Hatfield died have not yet been released.

Eric and Susan Hiscock

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