In The Hotseat with Alex Bennett

Alex Bennett
Alex Bennett

Round-the-world solo yachtsman Alex Bennett learnt his trade on the waters of the River Esk.

The former Fyling Hall School pupil and Whitby Yacht Club dinghy captain started his career in local regattas at the tender of 10.

Alex (35), whose grandparents still live in Whitby, has sailed all over the world, taking part in some of the world’s largest yachting challenges, notching up way over 130,000 ocean racing miles.

It is perhaps not surprising therefore that Whitby Yacht Club awarded him lifetime honorary membership status.

Alex, who has just written his autobiography, High Seas, High Stakes, is now based in Torquay.

Here he talks to Whitby Gazette reporter Karl Hansell about what he misses most while he’s away at sea, his first serious girlfriend and the last time he cried.

1 What are your first memories of Whitby?

I moved to Whitby when I was just nine years old. My first memories are of a fantastic amount of snow up on the North Yorkshire Moors.

2 What makes Whitby special to you?

Whitby will always be the place I think of as my true home. So many fantastic childhood memories, going to school in Robin Hood’s Bay, My first serious girlfriend and of course my family and friends who still live in the town. It’s a magical place that benefits from a certain charm and unrivalled beauty from the moors right down to the sea that breaks on the shoreline.

3 What was the highlight of your time in Whitby (or Yorkshire)?

Without doubt going to school at Fyling Hall School in Robin Hood’s Bay. We enjoyed so much freedom in those days. Everyday was an adventure...

4 What’s your biggest regret in life?

Losing my Open 50 racing yacht whilst sailing back from Brazil solo to qualify for a race around the world. I had just won the biggest two handed yacht race in the world, and just two weeks later in the middle of the Atlantic the boat’s keel broke free and the boat was lost. Thankfully I wasn’t!

5 What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Bite-size Shreddies - yum!

6 What is your favourite eating place?

Well, it’s got to be fish and chips on the west cliff, looking out to sea, hasn’t it? Awesome view!

7 What is your favourite pub?

I’m not much of a drinker but I do have brilliant memories of my teenage nights out in Whitby, got to be the big Angel in town.

8 Where are the best fish and chips in the world?

Are you kidding, that’s obvious, Fusco’s fish n chips on Baxtergate! I went to school with the owner’s son who was a good mate.

9 What is your worst habit?

I’m generally far too impatient and definitely way too competitive at times!

10 Where was your last holiday?

Off piste snowboarding in Corcheval, just awesome!

11 When was the last time you cried?

Recently actually, writing one of the chapters of my new book - High Seas High Stakes. - contrary to popular belief it is ok for grown men to cry. Just not too often though!

12 What would be your ideal day in Whitby?

I would say, taking a stroll along the pier or walking along the beach at Sandsend on a windy day.

13 What was your first job?

My first job was in Whitby, I somehow managed to score a job working Saturdays at Mount Antiques at the top of the Khyber Pass. I was just 14 at the time.

14 What is your favourite film?

That’s a tough question, but to pin it down, it would be a close run thing between, Guy Richie’s Snatch, or the movie Casino - then again Scarface with Al Pacino was awesome. as was the Godfather 2. Setting a trend here I think...

15 What is your favourite book?

Anything about extreme adventure or indeed any John Grisham is always a winner.

16 If you won the Lottery, what would you do with it?

Depends how much, but in general I would love to set up a sailing centre for under privileged children and give them some awesome true life experiences that could just shape their futures for the better. With a decent lottery win you could really help other people less fortunate then yourself. I would do that through my sailing I think.

17 Dracula or Captain Cook?

Both cool cats, but has to be Cook everytime! That guy was one heck of an adventurer.

18 What is your signature dish?

Spag bol!

19 What is your favourite drink?

Milk - ice cold

20 What would be your epitaph?

If I had to choose it would read something like - lived life to the max and wasted no time in seizing the moment.