Eileen Skinner & Rob Thompson - Founders of the Gipsy Moth Trust
Sir Francis Chichester is one of the most iconic figures in British history, a fact recognised within the pages of the latest British passport. Already an acclaimed aviator and navigator it was his 1966-67 circumnavigation on his yacht Gipsy Moth IV for which he is best remembered.
Since then his remarkable yacht has forged a special place as part of our maritime heritage and half a century on, her journey is still very much alive. Now owned by a charitable trust, it is our aim to continue to support and maintain her to keep the legacy of Chichester an inspiration for future generations.
Please note that since this video was made The Gipsy Moth Trust has taken over ownership of Gipsy Moth IV - please see contact details for enquiries.
Commissioned and built by Camper & Nicholson's boatyard in Gosport, GMIV was designed by John Illingworth and Angus Primrose for the purpose of attempting an unimaginable feat of seamanship.
Chichester had dreamed of challenging the passage times of the wool Clipper ships to Sydney, boats that by comparison represented 5 times the waterline length of his proposed ketch.
The challenge itself was unprecedented, compounded by the fact the Chichester was 65 years old at the time of his circumnavigation and had been troubled by illness. Nonetheless the resolve of this remarkable man held strong and whilst he never accomplished his goal of 100 days on passage, he did achieve a number of world firsts and records through his attempt.
The immense voyage captured the imagination of the world and on 28th May 1967 over a quarter of a million people gathered on Plymouth Hoe to welcome Francis Chichester and Gipsy Moth IV back home to a true hero's welcome.
The event was globally televised and, together with her skipper, Gipsy Moth IV became the most famous yacht in the world.
Chichester held no emotional regard for the ketch after his return and wrote in his book 'Gipsy Moth Circles the World' "Now that I have finished, I don't know what will become of Gipsy Moth IV. I only own the stern while my cousin owns two thirds. My part, I would sell any day.
It would be better if about a third were sawn off. The boat was too big for me. Gipsy Moth IV has no sentimental value for me at all. She is cantankerous and difficult and needs a crew of three - a man to navigate, an elephant to move the tiller and a 3'6" (1.1m) chimpanzee with arms 8' (2.4m) long to get about below and work some of the gear".
Chichester was knighted for his immense journey and in July 1968 Gipsy Moth IV was placed into a purpose built dry dock next to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich and opened to the public. Just over four years later, Sir Francis Chichester passed away leaving his most famous boat to settle into her concrete casket for 36 years.
In 2004, a collaboration between Yachting Monthly magazine and the United Kingdom Sailing Academy brought about a campaign to restore this historic yacht.
Bought from the Greenwich Maritime Trust for £1 and a gin and tonic, Gipsy Moth IV was lifted from her resting place and taken by road back to Camper & Nicholson's boatyard where she was lovingly restored at cost by a number of the original shipwrights that came out of retirement to help out.
This remarkable resurrection led to a second circumnavigation in 2005, this time divided into a number of legs each of which was crewed by a different skipper, mate and four young people through the UKSA. The aim was to promote the return of this remarkable piece of maritime history, to inspire a new generation of sailors and to continue the legacy of Chichester 40 years on.
This second circumnavigation proved as full of adventure and drama as her first. A navigational error in the South Pacific almost brought about her final demise but in true keeping with her colourful history, Gipsy Moth IV was saved once more and successfully sailed back into UK waters to yet another triumphant conclusion.
After her phenomenal journey from dry dock back to the water, Gipsy Moth IV was put up for sale once again and eventually bought by British business partners Eileen Skinner and Rob Thompson. Their aim was to retain her in the UK as a fundamental part of our sailing history, to make her available for people of all ages to see and sail and to inspire a new generation of young people. The Gipsy Moth Trust was launched in July 2011 and she remains with the charity today.