Sir Alec Rose (13 July 1908 – 11 January 1991) was a nursery owner and fruit merchant in England who after serving in the Royal Navy during World War II developed a passion for amateur single-handed sailing. He took part in the second single-handed Atlantic race in 1964 and circumnavigated the globe single-handedly in 1967-68, for which he was knighted. His boat Lively Lady is still seaworthy and is used for sail training by a charity.
After the war, Rose learned to sail in a former ship's lifeboat before buying the 36-foot cutter Lively Lady second-hand. Lively Lady was built of paduak by S. J. P. Cambridge, the previous owner, in Calcutta, with the help of two Indian cabinetmakers. Cambridge had studied boat design during the war, and Lively Lady was basic, but sturdy and stable. Lively Lady is currently (2015) undergoing restoration in Boathouse 4 in the Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth which is adjacent to the Naval Base.
Single-handed Atlantic crossing
Rose converted Lively Lady to a ketch by adding a mizzenmast and in 1964 participated in the second single-handed transatlantic race, finishing in fourth place. Not having any means of communication on board, he did not know of his success until after he crossed the finish line. The race started at Plymouth, where Rose was photographed onboard by Eileen Ramsay, the chronicler of sailing in post-war Britain.
When Rose heard that Francis Chichester intended to sail single-handedly around the world, he was keen to compete. He attempted to start his journey at approximately the same time as Chichester (sailing Gypsy Moth IV) in 1966, but mechanical failures and a collision off Ushant meant he had to postpone the event until the following year.
The voyage began on 16 July 1967. While he was away Rose's wife Dorothy ran their fruit and vegetable stall, displaying a map charting his progress. On 17 December, after 155 days and 14,500 miles, he arrived in Melbourne where he met his son who lived there. Among the people who came to watch Rose's arrival was Prime Minister Harold Holt, who disappeared later the same day after going for a swim. Rose stopped once more, an unplanned call into Bluff Harbour, New Zealand, to repair a damaged mast.
The voyage was closely followed by the British and international press and Rose's landfall at 12.33pm in Southsea, Portsmouth, on 4 July 1968, 354 days after he set off, was met by cheering crowds of hundreds of thousands. It was 10 days before his 60th birthday. On 10 July 1968, he was made a Knight Bachelor. And he was made a Freeman of the City of Portsmouth in the same year, was guest of honour at the Anglo-American Sporting Club gala evening at the London Hilton, and fêted with Lively Lady outside the Daily Mirror Building at Holborn Circus. He opened the Bamboo House Chinese restaurant in Southsea in 1968. He was granted the Freedom of the City of London in 1969.
Rose's voyages are detailed in his book My Lively Lady. He wrote a children's version, Around the world with Lively Lady (1968) and another book My favourite tales of the sea (1969).
In 1973 Rose was given the honour of firing the starting gun for the first Whitbread Round the World Race. On 17 May 1975, he opened 5th Littlehampton Sea Scouts' HQ Gordon Hall in Lineside Way, Littlehampton, West Sussex.
- My Lively Lady, November 1968, Nautical Publishing Company. ISBN 0245595651.
- Around the world with Lively Lady, 1968, Geoffrey Chapman, London. ISBN 0225273128.
- My favourite tales of the sea, 1969, Nautical Publishing Company, Lymington, in association with George G. Harrap & Co. ISBN 0245598987.
Rose was born in Canterbury and was educated at Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys. In his book My Lively Lady Rose described himself as a shy youth and a loner, fascinated by nature and the sea. He preferred to be self-employed rather than take a regular job, which allowed him to spend the time (over several years) preparing his yacht for the trans-Atlantic race. Rose and his wife Dorothy ran a greengrocer shop at 38 Osborne Road, Southsea.
Alec Rose died aged 82 on 11 January 1991 at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth. At the time of his death he was Admiral of the Ocean Cruising Club, and in an obituary Tim Heywood, a founder member and past Commodore who had known Rose since 1966, described him as the epitome of the breed of great seamen: quiet, reserved and humble. Rose was survived by his wife Dorothy, two sons and two daughters. He bequeathed Lively Lady to Portsmouth.
Alec Rose Lane in Portsmouth city centre is named after him, as is a Wetherspoon public house in Port Solent, Portsmouth and the 3rd Worthing Scout Groups ‘Rose’ Cub Pack. An elderly people's residence in Gosport bears his name. There is a plaque commemorating his global circumnavigation near his landing point at Southsea. Rose gives his name to the RNSA Sir Alec Rose Trophy for Outstanding Single Handed achievement.
From 2006 to 2008 Alan Priddy, founder of the Around and Around charity, circumnavigated the globe aboard Rose's yacht Lively Lady. The 60-year-old boat was crewed in stages by a group of 38 disadvantaged young adults. Priddy attributed his passion for sailing to Rose. Lively Lady was in 2009 leased to Around and Around for 25 years so the charity could maintain and use her for training. In 2011 the charity announced that, after a refit, Lively Lady would undertake another circumnavigation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rose's achievement.
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