He built a boat in an apartment, the first to land on his circumnavigation of the globe. He also migrated by sea

He built the boat with his own hands in the basement of an apartment, it was only seven and a half meters long, but Richard Konkolsky, the first citizen of a landlocked country, sailed around the world on his own. The famous Bochum sailor celebrates his eightieth birthday the day after tomorrow.

In total, he circumnavigated the globe three times, took part in many transoceanic races and set many records. He spent a total of five years on seas and oceans and traveled a distance equivalent to ten times the circumference of the world.

At the same time, he saw the sea for the first time at the age of 24.

Konkolsky was already involved in many sports during his school years. He graduated from a civil engineering school and earned a living as a construction worker from 1963 to 1972.

He started sailing at age 16, but after seven years, discovered that inland waters were too small for him. He went to Poland, where he received the relevant documents, including a captain’s diploma.

At the age of 24, he set his eyes on the ocean for the first time, and three years later he went on his first ocean race, in which he sailed away victorious.

“I grew up in Bohumin. It was an area full of lagoons. There were many sailboats,” he recalls.

He completed his first race across the Atlantic in 1972 and has since circumnavigated the globe.

When he returned to the Polish ports of Szczecin and Swinoujscie in 1975, crowds of Poles came to welcome him, as it was an extraordinary sporting and expeditionary success.

Konkolsky became the first citizen of a land-based country. His yacht Nike I, built in 1968 in the basement of an apartment building, became the second smallest ship to circumnavigate the globe.

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343 day and night sailings took place in 79 ports on five continents. Thanks to his trip, many saw the Czech Republic for the first time. the flag

Niké I, the first ship to circumnavigate the world, was born in the basement of an apartment. He did everything himself according to the purchased plans. In order for him to represent the country at the time, the ship was not allowed to be private. “So I donated it to the then Bochum Wire Works,” he laughs.

Four years later he finished second in the second race across the Atlantic, and in the third race in 1980 he finished fourth in his class.

Two years later, he completed his first solo world race – the BOC Challenge 1982. He finished third with five world records and became the first European to circumnavigate the globe solo in both directions.

The match took place shortly after Konkolski immigrated to America. The reasons for going abroad were the many obstacles thrown at his feet by the bureaucrats under the Communist regime. Notably, in 1980 the Yachting Commission banned him from starting ocean races and private yachts.

Convicted for stealing a ship

“We don’t migrate for immigration or an easy life,” he explained years ago.

“I had been preparing for an international race around the world for many years at my own expense, and when several Prague officials would not allow me to do so, I left without their permission. The bureaucrats were not members of the Communist Party of the Czech Republic, and therefore had nothing to do with the then regime. It was human stupidity, jealousy, Proving one’s power and one’s status,” he described.

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“There were and will be such human characters. You just have to look around and you’ll be surprised how many still exist today,” he declared.

Konkolsky’s escape was accompanied by dramatic circumstances. During the state of emergency in Poland, he moved with his wife Miroslava, a boatwoman, and son Richard to Szczecin, where he kept the ship Niké II in readiness.

He had no formal documents, but eventually the family was able to leave Svinoústí despite major technical difficulties. They succeeded only after sailing off the coast of East Germany, from where a patrol boat could still hypothetically depart and intercept them.

“In the morning, when I was at the helm, he came aboard the Reich. That’s when I told him we were going to America. I cried like a little boy,” Konkolsky recounted.

“My son scolded me: Dad, why didn’t you tell me? I can take what I like. Of course, we took that into account and took everything he wanted with us.”

Three weeks later they landed in Newport, Rhode Island. He wanted to open a sailing school there and serve, but the pressure and opposition from the competition was too strong so he gave it up.

After that, he founded the successful multimedia studio Seven Oceans Video and Digital Media, where he devoted himself to the production of films and promotional materials.

In the former Czechoslovakia, Konkolski was sentenced to 11.5 years in prison for stealing a ship.

The judgment is valid for a long period of time. That is why he could not return home for a long time. It wasn’t until 2000 that the Regional Court in Ostrava overturned it. After 14 years, Konkolsky regained his Czech citizenship and returned to Karvina.

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Vaclavak is one of the magical places

In his last race around the world in 1986, he broke his previous records and set new records.

Richard Konkolski presented the medal for services to the state in the field of sports at Fort. Photo: Ludvík Hradilek

“It was praised by, among others, US President Ronald Reagan. Of course, there was silence on the sidewalk,” recalled Konkolsky, who has written several books about his adventures and produced several movies and a series of television documentaries.

It is said that Kongolsky wouldn’t change anything about his life, maybe he would have been born earlier.

“It was my last chance to see the real life of the natives. Today, one of the magical places where I lived hunting and fishing is Wenceslas Square with its hundreds of boats and hotels,” he added.

Konkolsky received many awards in the Czech Republic, for example, in 2013 he received a medal for his services to the state in the field of sports, he previously received the titles of Best Master of Sports and Sportsman in 1978, but also abroad.

He has won the Yachtsman of the Year title four times in three different countries. His Nike I is today an exhibit at the National Museum of Technology in Prague.

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