The Romantic Challenge

Francis Chichester

16 June 2016
216 pages


There was in Sir Francis Chichester a restless spirit never satisfied with his achievements. Throughout his adventurous life this quiet Englishman has sought to challenge odds that other, younger, stronger men declared insuperable. As a pilot, as a yachtsman, as a navigator, even as a man who broke the grip of cancer, Sir Francis was always a pioneer. Where he led, others followed: but when he triumphed, he at once sought a new and greater challenge.

This is a book about such a challenge. With the feasibility of long-distance voyages proven beyond doubt - not least by his own remarkable circumnavigation in 1966 - Sir Francis turned at once to the next great barrier facing the single-hander, the 'speed barrier', setting himself the staggering target of sailing 4,000 miles between two fixed points on the earth's surface in 20 days - an average of 200 miles a day whatever the wind, whatever the weather.

The Romantic Challenge tells of the planning, the calculations and the sheer hard work that in January 1971 led him and Gipsy Moth V to their 'starting line' for a race which is the single-hander's '4-Minute Mile' and Marathon, combined in one gruelling, non-stop, murderous ocean race.