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Alec Rose was born in Canterbury. During World War II he served in the Royal Navy as a diesel mechanic on a convoy escort, HMS Leith. In 1964, Rose participated in the second single-handed transatlantic race, placing fourth across the line in his 36 foot cutter Lively Lady, originally built of paduak by Mr. Cambridge, the previous owner, in Calcutta.
Rose then modified the boat, including the addition of a mizzenmast, to sail single-handed around the world. He attempted to start this journey at approximately the same time as Francis Chichester sailing Gypsy Moth IV in 1966, but a series of misfortunes delayed Rose's departure until the following year, 16 July 1967. The journey was closely followed by the British and international press, and culminated in his successful return in Portsmouth on 4 July 1968, 354 days later, to cheering crowds of hundreds of thousands. The following day he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and nine days later he turned 60 years old. His voyages are detailed in his book "My Lively Lady". In addition he wrote a children's version called "Around the world with Lively Lady" (1968) and further book titled "My favourite tales of the sea" (1969).
Sir Alec died aged 82 in 1991. He is honoured by having a small road named after him in Portsmouth city centre and a public house in the Port Solent area of Portsmouth.