Record-breaker will take the helm again

By Ellen Grindley in Local People

YACHTSMAN Peter Crowther, who sailed single-handed across the Atlantic, is to sail the boat he used in the competition for the first time in 45 years.

The 74-year-old pub landlord will be back at the helm of Golden Vanity, now owned and run by Brixham-based Trinity Sailing.

In 1972, Peter took 88 days to cross the ocean, arriving 68 days behind the winner.

He still holds the record for the slowest-ever crossing in the Original Single-Handed Transatlantic Race when he left Plymouth for Rhode Island on the historic gaff cutter Golden Vanity.

In May Peter, who runs a pub in Stoke Gabriel, will set sail on his 10th and last Ostar, this time on a more modern Swan 38.

But two weeks before the event, he will be taking his family out for a nostalgic voyage along the south Devon coast on the boat he used for the original crossing.

Then aged 29, the yachting magazine journalist decided to take part in the race despite having no interest in finishing first.

Golden Vanity was built as a pleasure boat rather than a racing vessel, and Peter wanted to have the experience of taking part.

On his journey, which saw him come last out of 55 entrants, he was joined by his cat Gypsy and her six kittens, each of which was named after characters from Lord of the Rings.

Built in 1908, Golden Vanity was owned by Peter at the time. He endured a gruelling crossing and during the race had to replace the rigging three times and re-sew one of the sails.

During an earlier attempt in 1966, Peter did not even finish the race and hit the headlines when his yacht Galway Blazer, which he owned for 23 years after selling Golden Vanity, sank 500 miles south west of Ireland.

He was dramatically rescued by a passing container ship.

Peter sold Golden Vanity when he became more competitive and felt he was pushing the historic vessel too hard as she was not design­ed for competitive sports.

He said: ‘I think I had abused her a bit too much and had outgrown her. I think I had a change in attitude.’

Vanity looks different now, as in Peter’s time she had a fireplace in the bulkhead be­tween the saloon and fore cabin, as well as an orange and yellow hull.

She is now owned and operated by the Trinity Sailing Found­ation.

Originally built for Brixham marine artist Arthur Briscoe, whose etching of fishermen was the basis for the port’s new Man and Boy statue, her name was taken from a ship in the sea shanty the Golden Vanity.

She was built by J Sanders and Co at Galmpton.

Briscoe used her to follow the fishing fleets which he sketched and painted, helping to record the last working days of sail.

One of the friends who sailed with him was Erskine Childers, who had already written his famous yachting spy novel Riddle of the Sands.

Before the First World War, they sailed Golden Vanity extensively in the southern north sea, regularly visiting Holland and Belgium.

In 1999, the vessel became part of Trinity Sailing and today offers cruising holidays, RYA courses and Duke of Edinburgh scheme residentials and expeditions.

Add Comment

Add Your Comment

You don't need an account to leave a comment

By posting your comment you agree to our T & C