Sir Peter James Blake, KBE (1 October 1948 – 5 December 2001) was a New Zealand yachtsman who won the Whitbread Round the World Race, the Jules Verne Trophy – setting the fastest time around the world of 74 days 22 hours 17 minutes 22 seconds on catamaran Enza, and led his country to successive victories in the America’s Cup. In honour of his services to yachting, Blake was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1995, and received an honorary doctorate in 2000 from AUT University.
Sir Peter was murdered by pirates while monitoring environment change on the Amazon River on 5 December 2001. He was 53 years old.
He is buried in the Council Cemetery adjacent to the Churchyard. To find his grave, enter the Council Cemetery by the gate at the end of the road to the south west corner of the Churchyard; walk straight south leaving the lavatory block on your left; continue south for about 50 yards and his grave is on your left. Emsworth is where Pippa and Peter settled and raised their two children. His headstone bears the words of John Masefield’s famous poem, “Sea-Fever”: “I must down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky, and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by….”.
Every year in New Zealand hundreds of different organisations, schools and community groups celebrate the life and leadership of Sir Peter Blake by wearing their red socks on Red Socks Day. This year St Thomas à Becket decided to join them. We wore our red socks with pride on the Sunday immediately after Red Socks Day (which was on 29 th June this year) and a retiring collection raised over £160 for the Sir Peter Blake Trust. We had fun too!