HAMPSHIRE is about to lose the famous boat in which Sir Francis Chichester became the first person to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe.

Gipsy Moth IV, one of the star attractions at Buckler's Hard, has been sold and is due to relocate to the Channel Islands next month.

The 54ft ketch was owned by the Gipsy Moth Trust, which closed earlier this year after its finances were wrecked by the pandemic.

Her new owners are Peter Tom, chairman of Leicester Tigers rugby club, and Ian Walker, owner of the Little Big Hotel group.

Mr Tom said: “This iconic boat and its record-setting commissioning skipper remind us what can be achieved through skill and determination.

“I was happy to help when Ian approached me with the idea of bringing Gipsy Moth IV to Guernsey as an educational and tourist attraction."

The Gosport-built boat will be made available to the Guernsey Sailing Trust.

Mr Walker said: "Peter and I are both keen on nautical history and sea stories don’t get much better or more compelling than Sir Francis Chichester’s record-setting 1966/7 voyage.

"We’re very pleased the Trust’s young mariners will have the opportunity to sail in Gipsy Moth and benefit from their hands-on experience with history.”

The Hon Mary Montagu-Scott is commodore of the Beaulieu River Sailing Club.

She said: "We are sad to see Gipsy Moth IV leave but hope the Guernsey Sailing Trust continue to use her to inspire a new generation of young people to take up sailing.

"We hope Gipsy Moth will be a frequent visitor to the Beaulieu River in the future."

Gipsy Moth left Buckler's Hard on August 12 1966 and underwent trials in the Solent before officially beginning her voyage from Plymouth on August 27.

Sir Francis received a hero's welcome when he returned to the former shipbuilding village on September 17 1967 - his 66th birthday - and was later knighted by the Queen.

In 2016 Buckler's Hard celebrated the 50th anniversary of the start of his historic solo voyage.

His son, Giles Chichester, presented Lord Montagu of Beaulieu with a Royal Yacht Squadron flag that flew from Gipsy Moth throughout the voyage.

Lord Montagu said: "Sir Francis was a big celebrity in his day. Some of today's young people may not have heard of him, but this will help keep his name alive."