Dame Ellen MacArthur, Shirley Robertson and Ginnie Chichester sail Gipsy Moth IV up the Thames to Greenwich tomorrow

Dame Ellen McArthur, double Olympic Gold medallist Shirley Robertson and Ginnie Chichester, daughter-in law of Sir Francis, will sail the famous yacht Gipsy Moth IV up the Thames to Greenwich on Wednesday (7 September) to meet another famous lady, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, when Sir Francis Chichester’s yacht Gipsy Moth IV returns to Greenwich for the first time since she left the capital aboard a lorry last November.

Helping to crew the yacht will also be some young people from schools and charities, including Dean Welton, aged 15 from the Ellen McArthur Trust, Robert McClaren aged 16 from Peckham and David Williams from the Isle of Wight , some of whom will sail on a leg of the vessel’s second global circumnavigation which departs from Plymouth on 25 September this year.

To add even more atmosphere to the scene, the original Gypsy Moth bi-plane which flew out to meet Chichester as he completed his record-breaking circumnavigation in 1967, will also be at Greenwich, where Gipsy Moth IV will berth alongside the Cutty Sark pontoon at 12 noon.

Now restored to her former glory, Gipsy Moth IV was a feature at Greenwich
for nearly 40 years when she was entombed in concrete dry-dock next to the Cutty Sark, until she was rescued by the United Kingdom Sailing Academy, which waged a relentless campaign to raise the money for an extensive restoration in order to get the vessel back on the water and sailing again.

MacArthur is currently on standby for an attempt on the solo transatlantic record on board her record-breaking trimaran B&Q. B&Q is presently in New York and ready to depart as soon as a suitable weather window is available for the record attempt. MacArthur has managed to take a few hours out of her busy schedule to help sail Gipsy Moth IV to Greenwich. “She is a special boat,” said MacArthur. “It will be fantastic to meet the kids from The Ellen MacArthur Trust who will be taking part in this historic voyage. I didn’t want to miss the chance to be onboard for her return to Greenwich.”

Due to a prior commitment, MacArthur has to leave Greenwich after Gipsy Moth IV docks at 12 noon, but Shirley Robertson and the rest of the crew will just have time to hoist the flags before the arrival of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at 1300.

Her Royal Highness, who re-commissioned Gipsy Moth IV for active service at the Festival of the Sea in June, will view the satellite communications equipment installed with help from BT in preparation for the voyage. The equipment is crucial for the educational aspect of the voyage as it will offer young people a window on the world and provide a medium for young people to communicate across cultures. A sextant will be donated by The Maritime Trust and chronograph for the voyage provided by Corum Swiss Timepieces, the project’s official timekeeper, both crucial for the navigation of the vessel using traditional techniques.