Some adventure sailors do so for the fame and glory that success brings. Others do it because the sea is where they love to be. Webb Chiles is in the latter category. At 72 years, and with five circumnavigations already behind him, last week he commenced his sixth circumnavigation attempt.
Webb Chiles on "GANNET," earlier this year. Photo Steve Earley firstname.lastname@example.org
Not only is this a game attempt, he is doing it in what some would regard as a light racing boat unsuited to such a voyage. His 24ft boat Gannet is a Moore 24, a boat design which has never so far been sailed around the world.
Webb Chiles aboard his Moore 24 "GANNET," sailing out of San Diego's Quivira Basin in February of 2014. Photograph by: Steve Earley email@example.com 757 406-3617 313 Downing Drive Chesapake, VA 23322
While Webb is known to hard core cruising sailors, he is almost wholly unknown in mainstream news, in spite of the fact that he holds the record for the first American sailor to round Cape Horn solo.
Some of his escapades have been newsworthy, however, including the sinking of his own 36' sloop Resurgam and subsequent 26 hours of floating and swimming to survive. He was not rescued, but carried more than 125 miles by the Gulf Stream before reaching an anchored fishing vessel. He also broke Sir Francis Chichester’s record for the fastest solo circumnavigation in a monohull by more than three weeks.
Webb is also noted for sailing small, simple boats. One of his previous boats, Chidiock Tichborne, an 18’ open yawl,which he sailed west around the world, was a stock British built Drascombe Lugger, an open boat with no deck.
Webb Chiles previous circumnavigating boat, Chidiock Tichborne, an 18’ open yawl
This time he started his journey in San Diego, California, and is headed for Hawaii on his way to New Zealand. From New Zealand he will decide whether to continue in a westerly direction, or head east in the Southern Hemisphere summer to round Cape Horn for the second time.
Not that he would care, but Webb is approaching the record of fabled Japanese sailor Minoru Saito, who, at the age of 76, completed his eighth circumnavigation in 2011.
Webb Chiles boat Gannet - a successful daysailer
The Californian-designed Moore 24 is the first ultra-light displacement class built in the United States. Moore 24s have often been successfully raced from California to Hawaii, but no one has ever before attempted to circumnavigate in one. It was first designed in 1972, but has always been used primarily for racing and fast daysailing.
You can follow GANNET’s track at http://my.yb.tl/gannet; and learn more about the artist who is sailing the boat at www.inthepresentsea.com.