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1967: Sir Francis Chichester sails home

VIDEO : News footage of Chichester's return

Sir Francis Chichester has arrived in Plymouth tonight in his yacht, Gypsy Moth IV, after completing his epic single-handed voyage around the world.

He crossed the finishing line at 2058, nine months and one day after setting off from the historic port.

Sir Francis is the first man to race around the world solo with only one port of call, Sydney.

About 250,000 well-wishers cheered and sang, welcoming home the 65-year-old adventurer who has inspired the nation this past year.

Thousands of small boats accompanied Gypsy Moth into Plymouth Sound 119 days after it set sail from Sydney, Australia, the only stop in the mammoth journey.


"What I would like after four months of my own cooking is the best dinner from the best chef in the best surroundings and in the best company"

Sir Francis Chichester

They let off hooters and sirens as fire boats sprayed red, white and blue water.

The Royal Artillery sounded a ten-gun salute.

At the breakwater, Sir Francis was joined by his wife, Lady Chichester, and son Giles who brought two bottles of champagne on board.

Today's home-coming was carefully planned and he was met on shore by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth and other dignitaries and driven to the Guildhall.

There, at a press conference, he was asked what he would like to do now.

"What I would like after four months of my own cooking is the best dinner from the best chef in the best surroundings and in the best company."

Later he received a message from the Queen and Prince Philip congratulating him on his achievement.

Sir Francis has spent nearly 220 days alone at sea and crossed the Atlantic, Cape of Good Hope, the Pacific and Cape Horn - 28,500 miles of dangerous ocean.

But this man is no stranger to seafaring. He won the first solo transatlantic yacht race in 1960 in Gipsy Moth III, sailing from Plymouth to New York City in 40 days. He beat his own record in 1962 repeating the voyage in 33 days.

In Context
In July 1967, Sir Francis was dubbed with Sir Francis Drake's sword by the Queen at Greenwich.

Later that year, he published Gypsy Moth Circles the World, which was followed by several more books on his seafaring adventures.

In 1971 he made one more solo transatlantic crossing, then ill-health forced him to pull out of another transatlantic race in 1972 and he died a few weeks later on 26 August.

Several British yachtsmen and women have beaten the 220-day record since 1967.

Naomi James was the first woman to do this in 1978 and beat Sir Francis' record by two days.

In February 2001 after 94 days at sea Britain's Ellen MacArthur became the fastest woman to sail the world. Four years later, in 2005, she became the fastest person to sail solo non-stop around the world - in 71 days and 14 hours.


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