Sir Francis Chichester and the yacht that he sailed around the world.

The man

Sir Francis Chichester first hit the headlines when he won The Observer’s first Solo Transatlantic Race (OSTAR), in 1960, in Gipsy Moth III. That was just two years after being diagnosed with carcinoma of the lung. Chichester had been advised to have one lung removed and was given six months to live but his wife Sheila defied the consultants, refused to let them operate and gradually nursed him back to health.

Following the circumnavigation in Gipsy Moth IV Chichester was undeterred by the diagnosis of a cancer tumour near the base of his spine in 1972 and entered the fourth Transatlantic race that year, in Gipsy Moth V. Sadly he was forced to turn back through illness. His son Giles was transferred to the boat mid-ocean to help sail her home. Sir Francis died a few weeks later, aged 71.

To read a full history of Sir Francis Chichester, from early adventures in biplanes in the 1920s and 1930s, visit Giles Chichester’s CV of his father.

The boat

Gipsy Moth IV was designed by John Illingworth and Angus Primrose. She was built by Camper & Nicholsons at Gosport and launched in March 1966. She is 38ft 6in (11.8m) on the waterline and 53ft (16m) overall and of cold-moulded Honduras mahogany construction. Ketch rigged, she has a sail area of 854sq ft (79.4sq m).

She was never sailed again after returning home but took up her concrete dry dock next to The Cutty Sark, only to leave it briefly for some restorative work in 1997. Now much more needs to be done again before her keel can feel the sea once more.