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banner Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 18:03 GMT
Tributes to a sailing legend
Sir Peter Blake
Blake had a "massive impact" on the sport of sailing
Tributes have poured in for yachtsman Sir Peter Blake who was murdered by pirates on an expedition in the Amazon.

The New Zealander was most celebrated for winning the America's Cup in 1995 and managing a second successful attempt in 2000.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, with whom Blake made the fastest ever circumnavigation of the world, told BBC Sport Online "it was a pleasure sailing with him".

Sir Chay Blyth and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark were also quick to pay tribute to one of the greats of sailing.

Peter took on the might of American yachting and won - it was a remarkable achievement
Sir Chay Blyth
"The great thing about sailing with Peter was he was a first-rate seaman, a very, very good organiser and had great tactical judgement and was good company," Knox-Johnston said.

Blyth, one of Britain's most accomplished yachtsmen, added his tribute.

"He was loved by everyone and will be greatly mourned, especially back home in New Zealand," said Blyth.

"He was a very quiet man, there was nothing flash about him and he achieved so much in sailing."

Blake also won the the prestigious Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989 and captured the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994 with a record-breaking non-stop voyage.

The following year was Blake's crowning year. As well as the America's Cup success he received his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

He was the Hillary of the waters - our greatest sailor
Helen Clark,
NZ Prime Minsister
"I first came across Peter in 1974 in the first Whitbread race when he was the watch officer on board the Burton Cutter," Bltyh added.

"From there, he rolled on to the very pinnacle of sailing and what he achieved in the America's Cup was quite amazing.

"From a small country like New Zealand, which had a small budget, he took on the might of American yachting, in America, and won - it was a remarkable achievement.

"Peter was renowned for his attention to detail and planning and he had a massive impact on our sport."

Prime Minister Clark said she was "totally devastated" by the murder of one New Zealand's favourite sons.

Clark, who had spent the night on Blake's yacht on the Amazon three weeks ago added that it was "too distressing for words".

"This is a dreadful thing. A life has been wasted by a criminal act.

"He was the Hillary of the waters, our greatest sailor," she said in reference to Mount Everest conqueror and fellow New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary.

The New Zealand parliament will be briefly suspended and flags will be flown at half-mast.

Yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
"It was always a pleasure sailing with him"
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