50 Years Since Sir Francis Chichester Circumnavigated

Sir Francis Chichester

Sir Francis Chichester memorabilia.
This autograpahed card is in a Chichester book in the SAILING Publications library.

The lines of Gipsey Moth IV

Sunday 28 May was 50 years to the day when Sir Francis Chichester became the first person to circumnavigate the globe single handed aboard Gipsey Moth IV.

Chichester set off from Plymouth in 1966 at the age of 65. He made a single stop in Sydney, Australia, and took 274 days (226 sailing days) to complete his circumnavigation. Interestingly enough he chose a Henri Lloyd Consort jacket to protect himself, and unknowingly launched the brand as we know it today.

Many are not aware that his first love was flying, and that he was an exceptional navigator. His love for navigation also saw him start a map-making company.

In 1958 he turned from aviation to long distance sailing, and two years later he won the first single-handed transatlantic yacht race.

Chichester was almost twice as fast as the previous record, and was the very first person to sail it alone. He returned home to Plymouth to a hero’s welcome as thousands of small boats accompanied Gipsy Moth into the harbour where he was greeted by some 250,000 well-wishers, a ten-gun salute, red white and blue water cannons – and his wife and son, who were waiting for him with champagne.

He was later knighted for “individual achievement and sustained endeavour in the navigation and seamanship of small craft”.

Chichester is the author of several books on sailing.