Creative day – Donald Crowhurst

Confronted by a perilous sea in a unfinished boat making painfully slow progress, Donald Crowhurst faced an impossible dilemma – continue around the world or return home a defected, bankrupt and broken man.
In the summer 1968 inspired by Sir Francis Chichester’s successful single – handed around the world voyage, The Sunday Times declared a race this time non- stop around the world, which was open to all comes, the only entry requirements were to start between the 1 June and 31 October in order to pass thought the Southern Ocean.
In the end there were nine contestants – Robin Knox-Johnston, Nigel Tetley, Bernard Moitessier, Chay Blyth, John Ridgway, William King, Alex Carozzo and Loïck Fougeron, and Donald Crowhurst (himself)
Before committing to the race Donald had not had the best start he was forced to leave school and join both the Royal Air Force and then the British Army, after this he stated a business called Electron Utilisation also designed and built a radio finder called the Utilsation, a handheld device which allowed the user to take bearings on marine and aviation radio beacons, Yet his business started to fail.
So he needed sponsors to cover the cost of the boat and enter the race, the main sponsor he found was English entrepreneur Stanley Best, but even this was not enough Crowhurst had to mortgage both his family home and business for the continued financial support from Best.
The boat he had built was a 40-foot trimaran named the Teignmouth Electron which  had been designed by Californian Arthur Piver, in the 1960’s this was a unproven sailing boat, however the trimaran had the potential to sail much faster than mono-hulled boats, though if they capsized they were virtually impossible to right.
So to over come this Crowhurst planned to add innovations and devices which he would late produce and sell, but in the short time he had left after securing, financing and sponsorship many of the devices were left unfinished and unfitted, and to top it all off Crowhurst had infract never sailed a trimaran before and was classed as a weekend sailor.
Leaving Teignmouth on the last day permitted by the rules 31 Oct Crowhurst encountered problems almost seconds into the sail and in fact had to re-launch the boat a few hours later after making some modifications.
In the following weeks he was making less then half of the planned speed, not having the skills needed to sail the complex tri-hulled boat.
Giving himself only a 50/50 change of surviving the race in his own logs he was faced with a choice quit and face financial ruin and humiliation or continue to an almost certain death, this hopeless situation.
All of this pushed him into a elaborate deception, shutting down his radio he came up with a plan falsify a log of navigation, then slip back into the race for the return tip to England, and  as last finisher he would still be able to make money for devices to clear his debt.
Starting on 6 Dec he started to give deliberately ambiguous location reports and begin to sail erratically in the southern Atlantic ocean, not only this but fabricate a second log book
All was going well until Moitessier made a dramatic decision to drop out of the race and to sail on towards Tahiti, and then again on 22 April 1969 Knox-Johnston completed the race leaving Crowhurst and the rest in the race
The problem was that with the fabricated log and the false location reports Tetley and Crowhurst were fighting it out for second place, not only that if Crowhurst was still able to beat Knox-Johnston’s time due to his later starting date
But in reality, Tetley was far in the lead, having long ago passed Crowhurst’s hiding place. But this pushed Tetley to the breaking point, and he had to abandon ship on 30 May.
Therefore the pressure increased on Crowhurst and it became almost certain the he would win the race, and if that append his log book would be closely checked by not only Sir Francis Chichester but a whole group of experienced sailors and he would be exposed.
Crowhurst ended his radio transmissions altogether on 29 June, but  he did continue with log books fabricating the voyage  he spent many hours meticulously constructing false log entries, often more difficult to complete than real entries due to the celestial navigation research required.
His last log entry was on 1 July 1969 and it is assumed that he then jumped overboard The state of the boat gave no indication that it had been overrun by a rogue wave or that any accident had occurred, Three log books (two navigational logs and a radio log) and a large mass of other papers were left on his boat; which covered  his philosophical ideas and revealed his actual navigational course during the voyage.
The  was found adrift, unoccupied, on 10 July. Robin Knox-Johnston donated his winnings for fastest circumnavigation (£5,000) to Donald Crowhurst’s widow and children.ImageImage

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s