A bronze bust of Sir Francis Chichester is present to 'witness' his boat's sale
Sir Francis Chichester ‘looked on’ as the sale of his world-girdling yacht Gipsy Moth IV took place. His ‘presence’ was a bronze bust, sculpted by William Timym, and deliberately placed on a table in the hold of the tea clipper Cutty Sark where the deal took place.
The price paid for Gipsy Moth IV by her new owners the Cowes-based United Kingdom Sailing Academy was a box containing a £1 coin and a glass of gin and tonic. The drink symbolised the spirit of Chichester, for he revealed after the voyage that his lowest moment had been when the gin ran out!
Prince Philip sent a letter to the Maritime Trust: Gipsy Moth IV’s guardians since her triumphant return in 1968 from being sailed around the world solo by Chichester. In it the Duke of Edinburgh expressed his ‘best wishes and delight’ that the ‘next chapter’ in the yacht’s history was about to begin.
The CEO of the Cutty Sark Trust, Richard Doughty, said: ‘Gipsy Moth IV’s condition has become critical and we share the vision of Yachting Monthly, who have done so much work to achieve this dream.’
Paul Gelder, editor of Yachting Monthly said: ‘It’s a great day for us, after 20 months’ campaigning, to finally see Gipsy Moth raised from her grave. Boats belong in the water, not in dry dock. Our partnership with UKSA is a marriage made in heaven. They have the passion, the expertise and the committment to see this project through to success.’
Paul revealed how the UKSA plan to bring the yacht back to Greenwich on an annual basis and take disadvantaged teenagers sailing in Cowes: who knows, perhaps even those disillusioned youths who smashed her coamings could be among them! He also welcomed Giorgio Bendoni, managing director of Camper & Nicholsons, who are undertaking the refit as a ‘a charitable project’.
David Green, CEO of the UKSA revealed how Ellen MacArthur told him she regarded Chichester’s circumnavigation using low-tech aids as a ‘far greater challenge’ than her own. Ellen, one of the supporters of the project, sent a personal message: ‘To think about Gipsy Moth IV taking to the sea again is just a fantastic prospect – it is where she belongs. Chichester’s adventures on Gipsy Moth IV’ kept me enthralled when I was a young kid and it’s great to think that these adventures will start again in 2005.’ Ellen was referring to the boat’s restoration and the planned Trade Winds circumnavigation from 2005-07 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Chichester’s own voyage and the centenery of Yachting Monthly. Among those raising their glasses to the yacht’s future was Chichester’s daughter-in-law Ginnie, wife of Giles Chichester, the Exeter-based MEP for the South-West and Jane Chichester, a cousin. The UKSA sent a coach full of staff from the Isle of Wight. Project managers John Walsh and Jon Ely arrived earlier to unstep and undress the masts. Veteran rigger Harry Spencer, 80, who set up Gipsy Moth IV’s original rig was there; so, too, was resin manufacturer Tony Grimes whose glues were used in the yacht’s cold-moulded hull construction. Even the Mayor of Cowes – Alan Wells – was there.
The boat’s 114-mile road journey from Greenwich to Gosport was undertaken byTerry Ollerton of Shoreline Yacht Transport . In his 430hp DAF XF Super Space Cab truck were YM’s editor, Paul Gelder, and Dick Durham the magazine’s features editor. Assisting Terry in the escort car ahead were driver Alan Wood (57) with crew James Bates (28) and Frank Greenfield all boating folks.
At Gosport managing director of Camper & Nicholsons , Giorgio Bendoni, was there to meet the boat return to the yard for the first time since her launch there in March 1966.