There is agood reason to plan a weekend in England in February, April or September, go and visit one of the boats that made sailing history, the legendary Gipsy Moth IV. This living monument of sailing is boat with which the 65-year-old Sir Francis Chichester successfully undertook the solo round-the-world sailing trip, breaking the previous record of nine months and one day, just fifty years ago.It was the first in the modern history of sailing, the first to have unprecedented media coverage (if you want to know all about his enterprise click here).
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF CHICHESTER
The stunning 16-meter ketch, designed by John Illingworth and Angus Primrose, has been moored since December at Buckler’s Hard in Hampshire on the banks of the Beaulieu River, just where the epic that led Chichester and his boat to receive the title of Sir from Queen Elizabeth I in a tear-jerking ceremony in which the same sword that had belonged to Sir Francis Drake, the first man to circumnavigate the globe in a crew, was used. Gipsy Moth had departed from Buckler’s Hard on the Beaulieu River on August 12, 1966, descending to the mouth in the Solent Channel after embarking 156 paraffin-covered eggs to keep them fresh.
Then, on August 27, 1966, Chichester and his trusty Gipsy had left to return to England on September 17, 1967, after 29,630 miles of sailing covered in 226 days, with only one stop in Sydney. The Gipsy Moth IV sailing monument was refurbished by the same shipyard, Camper&Nicholson, that built it more than 50 years ago, at a cost of £400,000, supported by the Gipsy Moth Trust thanks to the patronage of two wealthy sailing enthusiasts, Eileen Skinner and Rob Thompson, who had purchased the boat for a pound and a gin and tonic (Chichester’s favorite drink).
We said, the boat can be seen every day, moored at Buckler’s Hard in Hampshire on the banks of the Beaulieu River. On Feb. 8-19 and April 14-17 it will be open for guided tours. But the highlight for the anniversary of the arrival from the solo World Tour will be in September; preparations for the celebration are underway. It will be a great party that is worth not missing.
WATCH CHICHESTER’S BOAT IN VINTAGE VIDEO