• Short Summary

    Britain's Sir Francis Chichester, Britain's lone around-the-world voyager, and pioneering airman in his youth, is a restless new Elizabethan always seeking out new challenges.

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    Britain's Sir Francis Chichester, Britain's lone around-the-world voyager, and pioneering airman in his youth, is a restless new Elizabethan always seeking out new challenges.

    His latest is what he has called 'sailing's four-minute mile' - 200 miles (330 kms) a day solo over long-distance. In his latest voyage, westwards across the Atlantic from Portuguese Guinea to Nicaragua, he failed to meet his target speed, but the 69 year-old sailor is to make two further attempts at 200-miles-a-day.

    He has now left Nicaragua on the first of these, over the thousand miles to the mouth of the Amazon. he will rest there briefly, and then try the second, eastwards back across the Atlantic to the Azores.

    This Visnews profiles features the start of Sir Francis's latest Transatlantic voyage, his 1966 round-the-world solo trip, and his interest in flying.

    SYNOPSIS: The 29-ton ketch Gypsy Moth Five gets ready for another trip off Portuguese Guinea in January. The latest yacht of Britain's round-the-world voyager Sir Francis Chichester did cover the 4000 miles (6330 kms) across the Atlantic to Nicaragua, but not at 200 miles a day, the speed regarded as sailing's 'four-minute-mile'. Not at 69 Sir Francis is to make two further attempts at 200 miles a day on long-distance solo trips.

    Sir Francis was dogged by trouble throughout this latest solo trip, beginning with storm damage before the start. now, rested after completing the voyage, he has left Nicaragua for his two further tries at 200 miles (330 kms) a day - first over the thousand miles to the mouth of the Amazon, and second, eastwards across the Atlantic to the Azores.

    Whether adventuring by air or by sea, Sir Francis Chichester has always responded to great challenges. He is still an honoured guest among flying enthusiasts as at this England-Australia air-race in 1969. As a pioneering airman in his youth, he was second to fly solo from England to Australia, first to fly the Tasman sea east to west, and first to make a long-distance seaplane flight. He also taught navigation at the Central Flying School during the war.

    When Sir Francis was preparing Gypsy Moth Four in the Thames for his epic 1966 round-the-world voyage the long-distance flights of his youth were far behind him. People marvelled that he should even consider sailing solo round the world at his age. Yet he had taken up long-distance sailing only when approaching 60, and a few years later won the first single-handed Transatlantic race.

    It was no wonder that he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in Australia, at the half-way mark on his round-the-world voyage.

    Ahead however, lay the treacherous Cape Horn, on the voyage home to Plymouth. Sir Francis tackled it alone at the age of 65, with the whole world thinking that this time the veteran sailor had taken on too much. Huge seas seemed about to swamp Gypsy Moth Four, and white-topped waves buffeted her hull. But Sir Francis, one of the world's most experienced navigators, was making fair progress with only a storm jib. Calling on the resources he had developed in an active life as lumberjack, salesman, pioneering airman and businessman, he came through safely.

    With this major challenge met, Plymouth Ho and its tumultuous welcome at the end of his 28,000 mile voyage was probably the only remaining ordeal for the lone sailor.

    When he walked ashore to be greeted by Plymouth's Lord Mayor, the milling crowds and the civic welcome must have made an overwhelming contrast to the months of loneliness he had endured. For in his own estimation, Sir Francis is a 'loner' by nature.

    Yet this was only the beginning of a great flood of publicity which was to be directed at Sir Francis, the next stage coming when the sailed Gyps Moth back tot he Thames at Greenwich.

    Here Queen Elizabeth the Second confirmed his knighthood and presented him with the insignia of a Knight Commander of the British Empire. Sir Francis and his family then sailed further up-river under Tower Bridge - which was fully raised in his honour - to the pomp and ceremony of an official welcome from London's Lord Mayor. This was certainly the high point in the career of this great adventurer, but as he says, he does not know the meaning of 'too old'. He will no doubt continue to astonish us into his seventies.

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