The city gears up for the return of Gipsy Moth IV

The 1960s nautical garb – boots, sweater and cap – as worn by Sir Francis Chichester on his epic, single-handed voyage around the world is to go on display at Plymouth University.

The clothing, along with his compass, a harness and ropes and other items of memorabilia will be part of an exhibition dedicated to the adventurer being held at the university’s Portland Square building. Also on display will be the Chichester Trophy, awarded annually to a student who displays the Chichester spirit, by succeeding in the face of challenging circumstances. 

The exhibition at the mezzanine gallery, in association with Peninsula Arts, opens on Wednesday May 23, just five days before Plymouth plays host to the arrival ofGipsy Moth lV, which has been repeating a round the world voyage to mark the 40th anniversary of  Sir Francis’s great achievement.

The exhibition is the brainchild of Dr Andrew Eccleston, lecturer in Nautical Studies with the School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences.

A keen Sir Francis Chichester fan, Andrew arranged for the memorabilia to be shipped over from the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Australia and he has also sailed on two legs of the 40th anniversary voyage. Also speaking at the event will be Pete Heggie, a former Stoke Damerel pupil who sailed on the first leg of the current voyage and is now an undergraduate in Marine Studies at the University.

“When I decided to set up the exhibition I wasn’t sure what I would be getting, but this has really exceeded my expectations, “said Andrew.

“This is a real slice of yachting history, a real coup for Plymouth and when Gipsy Moth arrives in the city, it will mean the legacy of Sir Francis’s achievement will live on through the young people who have been such an important part of the current voyage.”    

 Exactly 40 years to the day when the sailor arrived back in Britain to a hero’s welcome, his beloved yacht will once again sail into the Sound on Monday, May 28, marking the end of very special adventure for the young adults who have been part of the crew.

The adults, aged 16 to 23, some from disadvantaged backgrounds, others with learning difficulties and disabilities, have had the opportunity to sail different legs with the yacht since it left Gosport in Hampshire in September 2005.

It was the first time Gipsy Moth had set sail since her voyage with Sir Francis and at the end of the final leg to Plymouth, she will have completed 30,000 nautical miles, taking in 25 countries and 32 official stopovers.