Ontelly

Time Shift - Series 1 - The Sailing Sixties


In the mid 1960s Britain went boating mad. This documentary tells the story of how an extraordinary maritime revolution that was kick-started by waterproof glues developed for bomber aircraft led to a whole generation of DIY dinghy builders, and ended in tragedy with the suicide of amateur yachtsman Donald Crowhurst. In the 60s, plywood and plastic transformed the economics of getting on the water - and staying there. The waterproof glues that were developed for the plywood Mosquito bomber led to cheap affordable sailing boats. DIY supremo Barry Bucknell and boat designer Jack Holt produced the most famous dinghy - eleven feet of plywood and glue that could be built at home. It was called the Mirror Dinghy and was sponsored by the Daily Mirror for its readers. Even the sails were red. The new weekend sailors in their small dinghies might look as if they were messing about in boats but they were also dreaming of ocean-going adventures - emulating the new heroes that the decade produced. Men like lone yachtsman Sir Francis Chichester. In 1967 Sir Francis, aged sixty five, sailed into the record books and the nation's affection by circling the globe in Gypsy Moth IV, stopping only once, in Sydney. As Fleet Street raised the sailing stakes, the Sunday Times offered a prize, the Golden Globe, to the first person to circumnavigate non-stop alone. Nine men entered the most dramatic race in sailing history and only one, the almost unknown merchant seaman Robin Knox-Johnston, came back to claim the prize. The film ends with the story of this race - with the triumph of Knox-Johnston and the tragedy of Donald Crowhurst, the lone sailor who faked his round-the-world voyage and paid for it with his life.

Broadcasts

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Credits

  • Producer Gerry Dawson
  • Narrator Chris Serle