Santa Cruz-built Moore 24 a ‘masterpiece’ for sailing beyond the Monterey Bay.

Gannet, a Moore 24 sailboat, treks in blue water during mariner Webb Chiles’ sixth and last circumnavigation he completed in April. (Webb Chiles — Contributed)

Webb Chiles — the first American to round Cape Horn alone — finished his sixth global circuit in an ultralight, 24-foot Santa Cruz-built sloop roughly half the size of today’s average circumnavigated vessel.

“Boats now average 45 to 50 feet. They are floating mobile homes,” Chiles said after his San Diego landing in April. “It’s like they don’t want to go to sea. Or if they do want to go to sea, they want to take all of their land crap with them.”

In 2014, Chiles took to sea in Gannet, a Moore 24, which Ron Moore and George Olson intended for Wednesday night yacht club races in the often-turbulent Monterey Bay.

For Chiles, who is from Illinois and has spent 31 years completing circumnavigations, the idea was simple: Small boats have small problems because of their small wetted surface.

It wasn’t the first time he chose a boat that would terrify most bluewater skippers traversing today’s oceans. In 1978-84, Chiles lapped the earth in two open 18-foot boats — Chidiock Tichborne I and II.

“That was probably the most audacious thing I’ve ever done,” Chiles said.

The first 18-footer was confiscated in Saudi Arabia and he was arrested amid false suspicions that he was a spy. But he was a mariner needing help for a damaged rudder.

In Santa Cruz, Moore was “speechless” when he learned the sailing legend planned to circumnavigate the Central Coast-built 24-footer.

“I was deeply grateful that a man like him chose our 40-year-old design,” Moore said. “This man has climbed Everest six times.”

“You sail a Moore 24 and you will feel the balance in the helm. It sails good in light winds. It sails good in heavy winds,” Moore said during an interview in May. “It does everything right. It’s all about the design. The Moore 24 was built for conditions like we have here today: 25 to 30-knot winds.”

George Olson, who was a surfer-turned-boat-designer, told Moore “Let’s build a real hot rod.” Moore agreed and the 24 was born: a boat that “screams” downwind.

“George Olson and Ron Moore have created a masterpiece,” Chiles said.

It was a “masterpiece” he tested in extremes, dousing the mast three times in heavy weather and ambling forth in light winds.

“I was in countless gales,” Chiles said. “Two of them were 55-knot gales.”

Chiles was equipped for such a fast, volatile ride: In 1976, he broke Sir Francis Chichester’s round-the-world record by three weeks, sailing a 37-foot boat with no engine to bluewater notoriety, according to the Cruising Club of America.

During that trip, Chiles stopped only twice: in New Zealand and in Tahiti.

The boat had minimal damage. The interior was worn from his presence in such a small shell at length in heaving seas. This week, Chiles was back in San Diego to clean up the little boat that made headlines this year when he finished his last circumnavigation at age 77.

“I need to get rid of some stuff now that I don’t cross oceans anymore,” Chiles said.

It wasn’t his last such trip because of loneliness, however.

“I’ve been doing this for 44 years,” Chiles said. “People often say that I am brave. I don’t claim to be brave. Being brave is doing something you are afraid to do. What I do have is nerve.”

Even in knock-downs, when the boat is thrown to its side by large waves, he experiences an “animal reaction,” a body reaction.

“That’s temporary,” Chiles said after roaming at sea about a decade.Chiles said he doesn’t get lonely offshore in solitude, in the “monastery of the sea.”…

 

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Source: www.santacruzsentinel.com (By )

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Sailing icon reflects on trip around world
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