He's sailed more than 300,000 miles, won 150 trophies and raced round the world three times, but last night veteran Birmingham sailor Tony Bullimore said he only had one more race left in him.
Just back from the Gulf state of Qatar, where he and his crew came second in the Oryx Quest 2005 - the world's most lucrative round the world yacht race - the 66-year-old skipper is already looking to his next major competition, starting in Doha in 2006. But he believes it will be his last.
"Everything comes to an end," he said. "I'm getting towards the end of my racing career but I've still got a little bit more in me and I'll soon know when to hang up my oilies.
"I think my next major race round the world will probably be my last. At the moment I am looking at it as my swansong."
He's planning to build a new 120ft state-of-the-art racing boat to enter his final race next year. The race is expected to take eight months because boats will stop off in different countries on the way.
He said: "This was my third time round the world. It doesn't get any easier, you just get more used to it because you know what you're getting yourself into."
When Bullimore entered the Oryx Quest 2005 he was widely underestimated. As he and his crew showed up with their catamaran Daedalus in Qatar in February, more than a few people smiled at the audacity of a skipper who would enter an older yacht against some of the newest and fastest multihulls in the world.
Despite a recent refit, Daedalus still bore the scars of many miles of tough offshore sailing. At 66 and just over 5ft, Bullimore was the oldest and smallest skipper competing. Similarly, Daedalus was the race's smallest and oldest entrant at 102ft long and 21 years. But on Friday he silenced his critics, overcoming the light and fickle winds of the Arabian Gulf to take second place and collect a $300,000 prize.
Bullimore said: "The boat is very fast and has held world records before. It was in pristine condition with a good crew who pushed the boat hard, and we knew we wouldn't be far behind the winners."
The final week was painstakingly slow for Bullimore, with barely a whisper of wind. There was not much the crew could do other than to try and eke a tenth of a knot of boat speed from the listless sails.
"Everyone got a bit frustrated but all we could do was wait," he said. "We could see land for about 24 hours, but couldn't get there."
Finally arriving in Doha at 11.20am, the team completed the 22,000-mile challenge in 75 days, 20mins 48secs. Their time was just two hours out-side their catamaran's previous best circumnavigation record of 74 days and 22 hours in 1994.
Bullimore said: "We were absolutely delighted to come second. We are very proud of counting three 500-mile-plus day runs. Our best was 518 miles which is a record for this boat. We'd been at sea for so many weeks we were desperate to cross the finish line. My wife was happy that I was home safe and sound." Much of his detailed online diary has been preoccupied with food.
"When we got to shore we all dashed to the hotel to have showers and then went to a restaurant," he said. "I had steak, chips and onions because we hadn't got near anything like that for weeks. I think every one of us had a steak because we really wanted to eat red meat, which we couldn't have on the boat."
The race was won by the Doha 2006 team, skippered by Brian Thompson, 12 days earlier. Cheyenne, skippered by American David Scully, lost its mast off South America and Olivier de Kersauson's Geronimo suffered structural failures in the Southern Ocean.
Bullimore, who grew up in Birmingham and ran a business in Digbeth for 20 years, is best remembered for one of the most remarkable survival stories in sailing history.
During the Vendee Globe solo round the world race his boat capsized in the freezing waters of the Southern Ocean. He stayed alive by spending nearly five days in an air pocket in the upturned hull of his yacht.