In 1968, I was very small and was probably more interested in chewing my teddy bear’s ear, than following the Sunday Times Golden Globe yacht race. Perhaps I should have put teddy down and paid more attention.
The idea for the race was conceived in the aftermath of Francis Chichester’s successful round the world circumnavigation in 1967. Public enthusiasm was high and the British had a new hero in this intrepid sailor. The Sunday Times had sponsored Chichester and were considering how they could capitalise on the success of the venture. Somehow, the idea of a single-handed, non-stop voyage was born.
Many people said that the voyage couldn’t be done. The strain on the boat would be too great and the risk of personal injury unthinkable. Some people even said that the psychological effects of such a solitary existence at sea, for so long, would drive a person mad.
But by mid 1968, the race was a reality. Two prizes were on offer. One for the fastest circumvatigation and one for the first back home. The race had attracted just nine men.
The sea-faring abilities and experience of the race entrants varied widely, as did their states of preparedness. Donald Crowhurst, a weekend sailor, was perhaps the least ready when he left Teignmouth on 31 October. He was hoping to win the race in his catamaran, the Teignmouth Electron, and gain publicity for his ailing electronics firm.
Crowhurst’s journey, hoax and descent into madness is one of the great tales of the sea, which only came to light after the Teignmouth Electron was found floating, abandoned, in the mid-Atlantic by a Royal Mail ship.
Crowhurst was never found.
The Teignmouth Electron now lies on the beach at Cayman Brac. Abandoned again.
So, a plea to the Maritime Museuem in Falmouth, here in the UK. Why not save this yacht, for the nation? A rich, human, cautionary story stems from this little boat: lies, money, bravery, cleverness. Isn’t there something here for all of us to learn?
Please join the campaign: http://chn.ge/14DNrsE
Want to find out more?
The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall
Deep Water (DVD)
National Maritime Museum Cornwall (www.nmmc.co.uk)