Gipsy Moth IV under restoration by new owner

Exclusive: Gipsy Moth IV has been brought by Simon Oberholzer who is restoring the ketch’s original 1967 features. He plans to keep the boat in the UK and The Netherlands

Restoration work has begun on Sir Francis Chichester’s classic ketch, Gipsy Moth IV.

The yacht’s new owner, Simon Oberholzer is restoring the boat’s original features, and is in the process of collecting them back from clubs and museums.

Work to repair her topsides, hull and engine are already underway, having been damaged from months sitting on the hard, collecting rainwater in her cockpit.

Gipsy Moth IV back in the water after months on the hard. Credit: Irina Ignat

Gipsy Moth IV back in the water after months on the hard. Credit: Irina Ignat

The Cape Town born sailor, who lives in The Netherlands, bought Gipsy Moth IV earlier this year; she has been recently towed from Buckler’s Hard on the Beaulieu River to the Elephant Boatyard in Bursledon, which specialises in bespoke wooden yachts and was responsible for the restoration work of Sir Robin Knox Johnston‘s Suhaili and Sanjula.

‘It was a great opportunity to own a piece of history, and we want to bring her back to how she was in 1967. I look at her very much like a vintage car; you need to bring her back to her original condition to understand her and Chichester’s achievements. We are in the process of getting back all of the different parts which were lent out by the Gipsy Moth Trust and the UKSA to clubs and museums and we are now collecting the missing parts of her inventory, like Chichester’s gimballed chair (it allowed the circumnavigator to stay level headed when the boat heeled); we are still looking for her compass,’ Oberholzer told YM.

A man walking pass Gipsy Moth IV

Simon Oberholzer is restoring the yacht to how Sir Francis Chichester had her in 1967. Credit: Irina Ignat

Gipsy Moth IV was designed by John Illingworth and Angus Primrose and was built in 1965.

Sir Francis sailed her single handed around the world in 1966-67, making history as the first person to solo circumnavigate the globe with one stop.

Gipsy Moth IV was then lifted out and berthed alongside the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, where rainwater rotted her coamings and cockpit.

In 2003, a campaign, initiated by the then Yachting Monthly editor, Paul Gelder, was launched to save her.

She was bought by the UKSA, and the £500,000 restoration was carried out by her original builders, Camper & Nicholsons.

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Gipsy Moth IV went on to complete a second circumnavigation in 2005 before she was bought in 2010 by Elaine Skinner and Rob Thompson.

They went on to launch The Gipsy Moth Trust in July 2011 but the charity closed in 2021 due to a lack of funds because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She was put on the market in February 2021 for £165,000.

A man wearing a blue jacket at the helm of Gipsy Moth IV

Simon Oberholzer at the helm of Gipsy Moth IV as she makes her way to the Elephant Boatyard. Credit: Irina Ignat

The 53ft ketch was then bought by Peter Tom, the chairman of the Rugby Union club, Leicester Tigers, and the owner of the Little Big Hotel group, Ian Walker, with the intention of moving her to Guernsey as an educational and tourist attraction, but renovation and upkeep costs made the project unfeasible.

Simon Oberholzer is well aware of Gipsy Moth IV’s great British legacy and of the international importance of her epic voyage having sparked solo round the world racing like the Golden Globe Race.

Oberholzer plans to keep her British flag and she has been affiliated to the Royal Thames Yacht Club in London.

Sir Francis Chichester and his wife Sheila aboard Gipsy Moth IV

Sir Francis Chichester (pictured with his wife Sheila) broke numerous records during his 1966-67 circumnavigation including claiming the record for the first true solo circumnavigation of the world via the Capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn. Credit: Getty

‘She will sail, she will not be open to the general public. It is simply not possible to have so many people onboard her and she is not made for that. We will, however, create a unique sailing experience for the public to understand her importance and impact and she will be on display,’ he explained.

‘We basically see a triangle where she will be in the Hague, at the Scheveningen Yacht Club, at London’s Royal Thames Yacht Club and in the Solent at Buckler’s Hard, throughout the year,’ added Oberholzer.

Yachting Monthly will have a full report on the future of Gipsy Moth IV in the Summer 2022 issue on sale on the 23 June 2022.

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Source: Yachting Monthly

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