Last week in Sail-World we announced that Ukrainian-Russian crew aboard 30m sailing yacht Scorpius had claimed a new world record in sailing farther south into Antarctica than any other boat had gone, reaching 77 degrees. But we were wrong - well, in a way; because in 1965, Lt. Commander Steve Cockley, based in Mc Murdo Sound, had sailed a Moth, Tiny Too, an 11ft (3.4m) dinghy at 77.5 degrees south. Of course he didn't sail it TO Antarctica, just IN Antarctica.
Moth Tiny Too sailing in McMurdo’s Sound in Antarctica in 1965
To celebrate his achievement, he wrote a letter (not an email, in 1965) to the designer of the Moth, Hal Wagstaff:
Well, I finally got the boat into the water in the Antarctic. On Friday, the 5th February (1965 ) at about 1230, the ship was tied up in Winter Quarters Bay. There was about a thirty yard space ahead of the bow of the STATEN ISLAND that formed an ice beach. It also happened to be the only one in Winter Quarters Bay. At any rate, that's where I launched the boat.
Some thin ice was forming on the surface, so she even got in some honest to goodness ice-breaking!
If you'll look carefully at the top of the mast, you'll see a SKUA feather. I ran into the bird while flying the helicopter at Hallet Station and her wind lodged in the rotor head. We shut down to inspect the damage and I retrieved the feather which was in quite good condition, considering. I am afraid the bird lost hands down, and the helo(helicopter) wasn't even scratched.
So it's the International Moth that holds the current world record for the furthest south a sailing craft has ever 'ventured'. A photo of the Moth, designed by Hal Wagstaff and built by his brother Gary in Wellington NZ, hangs even today in the Antarctic base at McMurdo Sound.
Sail-World would like to thank reader Rohan Veal, one of the pioneers of modern foiling moth racing and multiple Moth World champion for pointing this out to us.