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24 September 2014

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Gipsy Moth in Plymouth
Gipsy Moth just before leaving Plymouth

Gipsy Moth IV reef-itted

The yacht in which Devonian Sir Francis Chichester sailed single-handedly around the world 40 years ago, has been repaired after running aground on a reef during another global journey.

One of the world's most famous sailing yachts has been repaired in double-quick time after running aground in the South Pacific.

Gipsy Moth IV, sailed by Sir Francis Chichester on his record-breaking journey around the world 40 years ago, was left with a hole in her starboard side part way through recreating the historic global circumnavigation.

The trip had been organised by Isle of Wight-based UK Sailing Academy (UKSA).

Captain Burt Kleijwegt, his crew and local villagers at the Rangiroa atoll managed to slide the ketch back into the water on Saturday 6th May.

Heading out of Plymouth
Heading out of Plymouth

Gipsy Moth IV was then towed to Tahiti and onwards to New Zealand where repairs were performed by a combination of three local boatyards.

"There was never any doubt in my mind as to where to conduct these repairs," said David Green, the Global Project Manager and CEO of UKSA.

"The incredible reputation that the Kiwis have for boatbuilding and their 'can-do attitude' made this a no brainer for us.

"I have to say that the Kiwis have exceeded all of our expectations and a lifetime of thanks will be owed by the future voyage participants who will now be able to go on to benefit from the Gipsy Moth experience."

The thanks will also be in the form of a 'lift' for some young New Zealanders.

Three places have now been given for Kiwi youngsters to travel on the Gipsy Moth in the next legs of its journey, although that will be different than expected.

Due to the notoriously unreliable weather in the Tasman Sea at this time of year, the current plan is to ship Gipsy Moth IV as deck cargo to Sydney where a number of Royal engagements await her.

Gipsy Moth and Gipsy Moth bi-plane
Gipsy Moth and Gipsy Moth bi-plane

While this will be a disappointment to some who wanted to see Gipsy Moth IV sail the Tasman it has some significant benefits in offering a kinder passage to this grand old lady.

After undergoing one of the major 'operations' of her life, this will ensure that she is on time for the celebrations in Sydney.

The yacht is recreating Chichester's history-making solo global circumnavigation following a £600,000 refurbishment.

Last September, the ketch set out from Plymouth, on the 22-month voyage recreating the famous route.

Photos of Gypsy Moth's departure from Plymouth
Gipsy Moth photo gallery >

Each leg was being crewed by teams of three 16 to 23-year-old crew members from disadvantaged backgrounds, or suffering from learning difficulties or cancer.

The yacht had completed the 11th leg of the voyage - from the Marquesas to Tahiti - when she went aground on the reef.

Gipsy Moth IV was scheduled to return to Plymouth in May 2007 - the 40th anniversary of Chichester's triumphant arrival in the port.

In May 1967 crowds of 250,000 turned out to greet him after he completed the first solo circumnavigation of the world.

Watch Sir Francis Chichester's historic arrival back in Plymouth after his famous round the world voyage in 1967.
video Gipsy Moth IV archive >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

The voyage had taken 274 days and it was the first true circumnavigation via the three Capes of Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, making only one stop.

Chichester, from Shirwell in North Devon, was knighted by the Queen for his record breaking achievement, which was made all the more remarkable by the basic facilities on board.

last updated: 28/07/06
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