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Date: 10.08.2017

Sunday World (1954)

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The first single-handed circumnavigation of the world was made by Joshua Slocum , between and , [1] and many sailors have since followed in his wake, completing leisurely circumnavigations with numerous stopovers.

His voyage was a great success, as he set an impressive round-the-world time of nine months and one day β€” with days of sailing time β€” and, soon after his return to England on 28 May , was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Knox-Johnston had a 32 foot 9. The Sunday Times was by this time interested in being associated with a successful non-stop voyage but decided that, of all the people rumoured to be preparing for a voyage, Knox-Johnston and his small wooden ketch were the least likely to succeed.

Knox-Johnston finally arranged sponsorship from the Sunday Mirror. Bill King , a former Royal Navy submarine commander, built a 42 foot He was able to secure sponsorship from the Express newspapers. They independently decided to attempt the non-stop sail, but despite their rowing achievement were hampered by a lack of sailing experience.

They both made arrangements to get boats, but ended up with entirely unsuitable vessels, 30 foot 9. Ridgway managed to secure sponsorship from The People newspaper.

Moitessier had a custom-built 39 foot They had then sailed her home again by way of Cape Horn , simply because they wanted to go home quickly to see their children. He had already achieved some recognition based on two successful books which he had written on his sailing experiences.

However, he was disenchanted with the material aspect of his fame β€” he believed that by writing his books for quick commercial success he had sold out what was for him an almost spiritual experience. He hit upon the idea of a non-stop circumnavigation as a new challenge, which would be the basis for a new and better book.

The Sunday Times, which had profited to an unexpected extent from its sponsorship of Chichester, wanted to get involved with the first non-stop circumnavigation, but had the problem of selecting the sailor most likely to succeed. King and Ridgway, two likely candidates, already had sponsorship, and there were several other strong candidates preparing.

The Sunday Times did not want to sponsor someone for the first non-stop solo circumnavigation only to have them beaten by another sailor, so the paper hit upon the idea of a sponsored race, which would cover all the sailors setting off that year.

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To circumvent the possibility of a non-entrant completing his voyage first and scooping the story, they made entry automatic: A race for the fastest time around the world was a logical subject for a prize, but there would obviously be considerable interest in the first person to complete a non-stop circumnavigation, and there was no possibility of persuading the possible candidates to wait for a combined start.

The Sunday Times therefore decided to award two prizes: However Moitessier, the most likely person to make a successful circumnavigation, was preparing to leave from Toulon , in France.

When the Sunday Times went to invite him to join the race, he was horrified, seeing the commercialisation of his voyage as a violation of the spiritual ideal which had inspired it. A few days later, Moitessier relented, thinking that he would join the race and that if he won, he would take the prizes and leave again without a word of thanks.

In typical style, he refused the offer of a free radio to make progress reports, saying that this intrusion of the outside world would taint his voyage; he did, however, take a camera, agreeing to drop off packages of film if he got the chance.

Chichester, despite expressing strong misgivings about the preparedness of some of the interested parties, was to chair the panel of judges. Crowhurst was the manufacturer of a modestly successful radio navigation aid for sailors, who impressed many people with his apparent knowledge of sailing.

With his electronics business failing, he saw a successful adventure, and the attendant publicity, as the solution to his financial troubles β€” essentially the mirror opposite of Moitessier, who saw publicity and financial rewards as inimical to his adventure. These boats were starting to gain a reputation, still very much unproven, for speed, along with a darker reputation for unseaworthiness; they were known to be very stable under normal conditions, but extremely difficult to right if knocked over, for example by a rogue wave.

Crowhurst planned to tackle the deficiencies of the trimaran with a revolutionary self-righting system, based on an automatically inflated air bag at the masthead. He would prove the system on his voyage, then go into business manufacturing it, thus making trimarans into safe boats for cruisers. Just a week later, on 8 June, Chay Blyth followed suit β€” despite having absolutely no sailing experience. On the day he set sail, he had friends rig the boat Dytiscus for him and then sail in front of him in another boat to show him the correct manoeuvres.

Suhaili, crammed with tinned food, was low in the water and sluggish, but the much more seaworthy boat soon started gaining on Ridgway and Blyth. On 17 June, at Madeira , he made an arranged rendezvous with a friend to drop off his photos and logs, and received some mail in exchange. While reading a recent issue of the Sunday Times that he had just received, he discovered that the rules against assistance prohibited receiving mail β€” including the newspaper in which he was reading this β€” and so he was technically disqualified.

While he dismissed this as overly petty, he continued the voyage in bad spirits. The boat continued to deteriorate, and he finally decided that it would not be able to handle the heavy conditions of the Southern Ocean.

On 21 July he put into Recife , Brazil , and retired from the race.

On 30 June, Royal Navy officer Nigel Tetley announced that he would race in the trimaran he and his wife lived aboard. Fougeron was a friend of Moitessier, who managed a motorcycle company in Casablanca , and planned to race on Captain Browne, a 30 foot 9. Crowhurst, meanwhile, was far from ready β€” assembly of the three hulls of his trimaran only began on 28 July at a boatyard in Norfolk.

Knox-Johnston, the experienced seaman, was enjoying himself, but Suhaili had problems with leaking seams near the keel. However, Knox-Johnston had managed a good repair by diving and caulking the seams underwater. He had also discovered that the fuel for his generator had been contaminated, which effectively put his radio out of action. On 15 August, Blyth went in to Tristan da Cunha to pass a message to his wife, and spoke to crew from an anchored cargo ship, Gillian Gaggins.

His boat continued to deteriorate, however, and on 13 September he put into East London. Having successfully sailed the length of the Atlantic and rounded Cape Agulhas in an unsuitable boat, he decided that he would take on the challenge of the sea again, but in a better boat and on his own terms. On 29 September he passed Trindade in the south Atlantic, and on 20 October he reached Cape Town, where he managed to leave word of his progress.

The next day β€” Halloween β€” they both found themselves in a severe storm. Fougeron hove-to , but still suffered a severe knockdown. King, who allowed his boat to tend to herself a recognised procedure known as lying ahull , had a much worse experience; his boat was rolled and lost its foremast.

Both men decided to retire from the race. Crowhurst was also far from ready β€” his boat, barely finished, was a chaos of unstowed supplies, and his self-righting system was unbuilt.

He left anyway, and started slowly making his way against the prevailing winds of the English Channel. Hastily built, the boat was already showing signs of being unprepared, and in the rush to depart, Crowhurst had left behind crucial repair materials. On 15 November, he made a careful appraisal of his outstanding problems and of the risks he would face in the Southern Ocean ; he was also acutely aware of the financial problems awaiting him at home.

Despite his analysis that Teignmouth Electron was not up to the severe conditions which she would face in the Roaring Forties , he pressed on. Tetley was just entering the Roaring Forties, and encountering strong winds. He experimented with self-steering systems based on various combinations of headsails, but had to deal with some frustrating headwinds. On 21 December he encountered a calm and took the opportunity to clean the hull somewhat; while doing so, he saw a 7 foot 2.

He later caught it, using a shark hook baited with a tin of bully beef corned beef , and hoisted it on board for a photo. His log is full of sail changes and other such sailing technicalities and gives little impression of how he was coping with the voyage emotionally; still, describing a heavy low on 15 December he hints at his feelings, wondering "why the hell I was on this voyage anyway".

On 3 November, his self-steering gear had failed for the last time, as he had used up all his spares. He was also still having leak problems, and his rudder was loose. Still, he felt that the boat was fundamentally sound, so he braced the rudder as well as he could, and started learning to balance the boat in order to sail a constant course on her own. The creation of this fake log was an incredibly intricate process, involving working celestial navigation in reverse.

However, from that point on, he started to keep two logs β€” his actual navigation log, and a second log in which he could enter a faked description of a round-the-world voyage. This would have been an immensely difficult task, involving the need to make up convincing descriptions of weather and sailing conditions in a different part of the world, as well as complex reverse navigation. He tried to keep his options open as long as possible, mainly by giving only extremely vague position reports; but on 17 December he sent a deliberately false message indicating that he was over the Equator , which he was not.

From this point his radio reports β€” while remaining ambiguous β€” indicated steadily more impressive progress around the world; but he never left the Atlantic, and it seems that after December the mounting problems with his boat had caused him to give up on ever doing so. Crowhurst made a radio call to his wife on Christmas Eve, during which he was pressed for a precise position, but refused to give one. He had a lavish Christmas dinner of roast pheasant, but was suffering badly from loneliness.

He managed to pick up some radio stations from the USA, and heard for the first time about the Apollo 8 astronauts, who had just made the first orbit of the Moon.

He was having problems with his radio transmitter and nothing had been heard since he had passed south of New Zealand.

Elated by this successful climax to his voyage, he briefly considered continuing east, to sail around the Southern Ocean a second time, but soon gave up the idea and turned north for home. He also reported that due to generator problems he was shutting off his radio for some time. He was also becoming increasingly concerned about Teignmouth Electron, which was starting to come apart, mainly due to slapdash construction.

He was carrying letters from old Cape Horn sailors describing conditions in the Southern Ocean, and he frequently consulted these to get a feel for chances of encountering ice.

He reached the Horn on 6 February, but when he started to contemplate the voyage back to Plymouth he realised that he was becoming increasingly disenchanted with the race concept. As he sailed past the Falkland Islands [53] he was sighted, and this first news of him since Tasmania caused considerable excitement.

It was predicted that he would arrive home on 24 April as the winner in fact, Knox-Johnston finished on 22 April. A huge reception was planned in Britain, from where he would be escorted to France by a fleet of French warships for an even more grand reception.

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After much debate with himself, and many thoughts of those waiting for him in England, he decided to continue sailing β€” past the Cape of Good Hope, and across the Indian Ocean for a second time, into the Pacific. Please do not think I am trying to break a record. I am continuing nonstop because I am happy at sea, and perhaps because I want to save my soul. Badly battered by his Southern Ocean voyage, he turned north with considerable relief.

Although the village turned out to be the home of a small coastguard station, and his presence was logged, he got away with his supplies and without publicity. He started heading south again, intending to get some film and experience of Southern Ocean conditions to bolster his false log. This news caused another sensation, as with his projected arrival in the UK at the start of July he now seemed to be a contender for the fastest time, and very optimistically even for a close finish with Tetley.

Once his projected false position approached his actual position, he started heading north at speed. On 22 April, he crossed his outbound track, one definition of a circumnavigation. This made him the winner of the Golden Globe trophy, and the first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world, which he had done in days.

However, Tetley knew that he was pushing his boat too hard. Hoping that the storm would soon blow over, he lowered all sail and went to sleep with the boat lying ahull. In the early hours of the next day he was awoken by the sounds of tearing wood.

Fearing that the bow of the port hull might have broken off, he went on deck to cut it loose, only to discover that in breaking away it had made a large hole in the main hull, from which Victress was now taking on water too rapidly to stop. He sent a Mayday , and luckily got an almost immediate reply.

This would, however, also guarantee intense scrutiny of himself, his stories, and his logs by genuine Cape Horn veterans such as the sceptical Chichester.