Ellen MacArthur opens Cowes Week on board Gipsy Moth IV

Ellen and Giles Chichester on board Gipsy Moth IV

In a special Cowes Week opening ceremony Ellen McArthur joined Giles Chichester, son of Sir Francis, on board Gipsy Moth IV.

A Gipsy Moth bi-plane swooped overhead as Ellen, the most famous sailor or her generation, helmed the boat that helped inspire her to take up sailing.

‘I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read Sir Francis’s book,’ Ellen told YM’s editor, Paul Gelder. ‘I haven’t seen the boat since I went down to Greenwich to look at her with my mum when I was eight.’

Ellen, Giles and Paul were joined on board Gipsy Moth by children from the Ellen MacArthur Trust and crew from the boats new owners, the United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA).

The Gipsy Moth biplane that flew above the historic boat was piloted by Nigel Reid, the son of the pilot who was behind the joystick of the same plane as she welcomed Chichester into Plymouth in 1967 after his 226 days at sea.

It was Giles Chichester’s first sail on the boat for 38 years and he was delighted to see her afloat and in such good condition – though he admitted that bringing her into her beth in Cowes was ‘bloody difficult’ as there were so many camera men and press crews crowded on the foredeck.

A crowd of wellwishers cheered as Ellen congratulated Yachting Monthly and the UKSA for saving Chichester’s famous boat .

Gipsy Moth IV was relaunched on 20 June after a whirlwind restoration. She was saved from rotting in her dry dock at Greenwich after Yachting Monthly campaigned to preserve her. The UKSA stepped in and helped fund and organise the restoration which took place at the Camper and Nicholson yard in Gosport.

In six weeks time, Gipsy Moth IV will set off with the Blue Water Rally on a Trade Winds circumnavigation via the Panama Canal. She’ll call in at Sydney, where Sir Francis stopped during his record breaking circumnavigation in 1967.