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WEBB CHILES'

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ebb Chiles made landfall in San Diego on April 29, concluding a 46-day, nonstop passage from Panama — the final leg of a five-year, singlehanded circumnavigation aboard the Moore 24 G a n n e t . Chiles' arrival in San Diego marks an historic achievement for a renowned sailor, selfstyled artist, author and poet. Chiles was Webb Chiles in Newport, the first Rhode Island, in 1975. American to singlehand around Cape Horn, and this latest circumnavigation marks his sixth sail around the world in vessels ranging from 18 to 37 feet. Three of his voyages were entirely singlehanded, while the other three were partially doublehanded. Chiles is 77 years old and completely blind in his right eye. He

completed the journey — like the prior five — without sponsorship, donations or shore support. The Moore 24 is an ultralight designed for day-racing around the buoys. Gannet is the first of her make to sail around the world, and this lap of the planet caps an epic sailing career that began on the West Coast 45 years ago. "I started my first circumnavigation in San Diego in 1974, and I am pleased with the symmetry of completing my last here 44 years later," Chiles said. During his last full day at sea, he said on video: "I wanted to lead an epic life. Whether I did or not is a matter of opinion, but at least I had the nerve to dream big." Webb Chiles purchased Gannet in 2011 for sailing on Lake Superior — when not at sea, Chiles lives in Evanston, Illinois, with his wife Carol, to whom he has been married for 25 years. He quickly found, however, that even the fifth-largest lake in the world is no substitute for the ocean. Many Moore 24s have fared well in West Coast to Hawaii races. Chiles decided that, if properly prepared and sailed, Gannet could be a good around-the-world boat. And he came to think circumnavigating in such a boat would be a fitting "final world tour." He left San Diego on March

LEE JOHNSON

The mighty Moore 24 'Gannet', at once the most unlikely and, to Webb Chiles, most obvious and ideal boat for a circumnavigation.

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20, 2014, for a westabout circuit, although unsure whether he would return via Cape Horn or Panama. Besides its sailing reputation, Chiles chose the Moore 24 because he wanted "a qualitatively different experience" from his prior boats, which were already qualitatively different experiences than the sailing world had typically seen. In 1979, Chiles set sail on an 18-ft English-built Drascombe Lugger, Chidiock Tichborne, an open boat named after an English poet. "She was a truly great little boat," Chiles wrote on his personal website www.inthepresentsea.com. "There were actually two identical Chidiocks. In them I made what was at the time by far the longest open boat voyage of all time, and may still be, covering more than 20,000 miles and completing long passages almost as quickly as boats many times her size. The terrier, if not the terror, of the seas." In 1975, Chiles made his first circumnavigation, and historic singlehanded rounding of Cape Horn, on the Ericson 37 Egregious. His third circumnavigation was aboard Resurgam, a 36-ft Olin Stevens-designed sloop. Chiles started his fourth circumnavigation aboard Resurgam, but it sank off Florida in 1992. He completed that voyage aboard a 37ft Heritage One Ton, Hawke of Tuonela, as well as a fifth circumnavigation. A Moore 24 seemed to fit perfectly in Chiles' pantheon of boats. "Sailing Gannet is a constant isometric exercise. Muscles are always being used to counteract gravity and thrust. Chidiock Tichborne was too long ago for me to recall, but Gannet is the faster boat and I believe has the quicker motion." Gannet also held her own in terms of boat speed. The passages would not be exceptionally fast, but would, he noted, be "about as fast as I made passages in Egregious, Resurgram and the Hawk of Tuonela, which is, of course, rather remarkable. They were 37-ft and 36-ft long and sailed well. In Egregious, I set what was then a world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation in a monohull [bettering by three weeks the record set by Sir Francis Chichester in Gypsy Moth], and in the Hawke of Tuonela. I Moth beat that time by almost two weeks." With his first destination Hilo, Hawaii, Chiles sailed south-southwest to duck under the East Pacific High. He had wind forward of the beam for the first few days, then a beam reach to the northeasterly trades. By the morning of May 26, they were in the trade winds, and Chiles set the asymmetrical spinnaker. Gannet, like previous boats Chiles

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Latitude 38 June 2019  

The June 2019 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.

Latitude 38 June 2019  

The June 2019 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.