Sir Peter Johnson

Peter Colpoys Paley Johnson, 7th baronet of New York, publisher, author and yachting historian, was born in London on 26 March 1930 and died 24 May 2003. He inherited the title of 7th Baronet of New York from his father in 1976. The baronetcy was conferred in 1755 on his ancestor General William Johnson, who had large estates in the then British colonial territory of New York state. The title was conferred when he defeated the French at the Battle of Crown Point. Sir William's son, Sir John Johnson, was first governor of Quebec.

His obituary (adapted from The Guardian) notes that he started sailing in 1944, but until 1961 he served in the Royal Artillery before turning to sailing full time and beginning to write sailing books. He eventually published fifteen titles. Until two months before his death, he was chairman of the World Sailing Speed Record Council, resigning at its annual meeting in Windsor because of ill health.

His committee work on the sport's governing bodies was an extension of his fascination for sailing offshore yachts, first manifest at the age of 14, and he sailed many thousands of miles, racing and cruising. He was captain of the Junior Offshore Group (1965-68) and president (1979-83).

He served on the committees of the Royal Yachting Association, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and was chairman of the international technical committee (rules committee) of the Offshore Racing Council. He owned and campaigned many yachts, including one in the storm-wracked Fastnet Race of 1979 from which he retired, as his 34ft Innovation was at the centre of the storm that claimed 15 lives. He sailed 10 Fastnet Races, the last in 1999, at the age of 69.

He was a member of the Cruising Association, Junior Offshore Group, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Royal Lymington Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Squadron, and contributed to leading yachting magazines worldwide. With his family, Peter has owned and sailed ocean racing yachts, keelboats, racing dinghies and fast power boats.


For our holdings, please see our catalogue.
  • Yachting World Handbook (1967)
  • Ocean Racing and Offshore Yachts (1970)
  • Guinness Book Of Yachting Facts And Feats (1975)
  • Boating : facts and feats (1976)
  • Offshore Manual International (1977)
  • Front Line Artists (1978)
  • The Guinness guide to sailing (1981)
  • This is fast cruising (1985)
  • The Encyclopedia of Yachting (1989)
  • The Sail magazine book of sailing (1989)
  • Yacht clubs of the world (1994)
  • Yacht Rating - Speed, Success, Failure (1997)
  • RYA Book Of World Sailing Records (2002)
  • Reed's maritime flags : usage and recognition (2002)



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Naval Marine Archive
The Canadian Collection

Revised: 3 October 2006