Ten years ago, on 28th May, 1967, Sir Francis Chichester completed his record-breaking single-handed voyage round the globe.
Ten years ago, on 28th May, 1967, Sir Francis Chichester completed his record-breaking single-handed voyage round the globe. He was not the first man ever to do it -- but he made his voyage in much shorter time, and with far fewer stops, than anyone had ever done before.
The first man on record as having sailed single-handed round the world was the American Joshua Slocum, in his sloop "Spray". He made the voyage in stages between 1895 and 1898.
SYNOPSIS: "Gipsy Moth Four", specially designed for the voyage, sailed into Plymouth, on the south-west coast of England, just nine months after she had set out for Australia. During the outward voyage, Chichester passed his 65th birthday; two days before he left Sydney for home, round the Horn, his knighthood was announced.
A year later, his feat had been duplicated. The people of Portsmouth turned out in force to welcome home "Lively Lady", sailed by a local shopkeeper, Alec Rose. He too was knighted for his achievement. Sir Alec, in his smaller boat, had taken three months longer than Sir Francis. And he was rather younger -- but still not far of 60.
The worst part of the voyage was rounding Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America. There was danger from icebergs; the gales are notorious. These shots were taken from a fully-crewed sailing ship. The hazards for a man on his own are formidable.
But the challenge was taken up. Chay Blyth, in "British Steel", was the first man to sail round the world in the more difficult East-West direction.
Another east-west voyage, three years later, began and ended at Osaka in Japan. The boat was an 8.8 metre sloop, "Mermaid Three"; the yachtsman Kenichi Horie. He made the round journey in 275 days -- cutting eighteen days off Blyth's record. The younger men had taken over. Horie, like Blyth, was in his early 30s.
The tri-maran "Manureva" also completed a round-the-world voyage in 1974, and arrived back safely at its home port, St. Malo in France. Alone on board was the French yachtsman, Alain Colas. He beat Sir Francis Chichester's time outward to Australia.
It was Colas who sailed the giant four-masted "Club Mediterranean" in the single-handed transatlantic race last year. Boats this size are to be banned from the race in future. Colas had a mass of sophisticated equipment to help him, but he could only manage second place. The winner was another famous French sailor, Eric Tabarly. he is the only man to have won the transatlantic race twice. The previous time was when he beat Chichester in 1964.
Chichester had won the first transatlantic race -- but lost his last one. Against doctor's advice, he took part again 1972, when he himself was past 70. He was taken ill. His son went out in a British naval frigate to help him. He was brought back to hospital in England; and two months later, he died.