1977 - 1978 2nd Whitbread

Heath's Condor, as the yacht was known for this race, was jointly skippered by Leslie Williams and Robin Knox Johnston. Designed by John Sharp (who also designed Burton Cutter), the 7ft sloop was built of cold-molded timber and sported a mast built partly in carbon fibre, one of the first yachts ever to use the space-age material.

Although Burton Cutter's Whitbread debut was undone by lack of preparation, the yacht had shown distinct promise. Even though it was unfinished and structurally suspect, it was quick enough to take line honours on the first leg of the 1973 race from England to South Africa and was 2nd across the line on the final leg from Rio de Janeiro to Portsmouth.

In the British summer of 1974, Blake teamed up with Robin Knox-Johnston took Burton Cutter across the finsh line to claim victory as the fastest monohull in the round Britain race. Another notch was carved in Blake's growing sailing resume.

The next came back in his home waters when Blake teamed up with Graeme Elder to take line honours in the inaugural Round North Island (of New Zealand) race on board Gerontius in 1977.

In between these two events, Blake was casting about in search of a 'proper job'. He spent a lot of time cruising, diving and obtaining a pilot's licence. He scared teh daylights out of his flying instructor when, on one flight, a bag of live crayfish he had caught on that morning's diving expedition came undone and the scaly creatures invaded the cockpit.

But, he did secure a job as well, working as an industrial sales engineer. He described it as "flogging valves and insulation, real death-of-a-salesman stuff."

It couldn't last and, sure enough, next thing he was off on a mission to rescue a motoryacht from war-torn Beirut. He and the owner's two sons managed to flee the city at 20 knots with the sound of gunfire and boats being sunk echoing behind them.

For the second Whitbread Round the World Race in 1977, Blake was offered a position as watch leader on the beautiful yacht, Condor. He accepted "with indecent haste."

Heath's Condor, as the yacht was known for this race, was jointly skippered by Leslie Williams and Robin Knox Johnston. Designed by John Sharp (who also designed Burton Cutter), the 77ft sloop was built of cold-molded timber and sported a mast built partly in carbon fibre, one of the first yachts ever to use the space-age material.

In this sense, the yacht was a curious combination of traditional and new materials. Once again, however, there was too little time and the yacht arrived at the start line in better shape than Burton Cutter, but with less than ideal testing and preparation. This was to prove fatal when the carbon fibre rig started to fail and the yacht proved uncompetitive in the first leg. This, despite wins in the 2nd and 4th legs and a 2nd in the 3rd leg, placed Condor last on elapsed time.