Les sailed three times around the world on the proverbial shoestring. At 50, he spent his savings building Solitaire in Liverpool in 1975. With only eight hours sailing experience, he set off that year into the Atlantic. Famously, he headed for the Caribbean, but his poor navigational skills meant he accidentally landed in Brazil. He went on to complete a 34,000 mile circumnavigation via Panama, Darwin and Cape Town arriving back in Lymington having been given up for dead. Towards the end of his second, non-stop 28,500 voyage in 1980-81, Les struggled with hunger and survived on rainwater, a few spoonfuls of rice and quarter of a tin of meat per day. Following this voyage Les received the YJA Yachtsman of the Year Award in 1981. On his third, epic, eight-year voyage in the late 1980s he was again given up for dead, but surprised everyone by his return four months after he set sail from New Zealand, aged 70. He had lost five stone and hardly had the strength to lift the sail. Now in his 90s, Les lives aboard Solitaire in Lymington Yacht Haven on a free mooring.
Winner of 1996 OCC Award of Merit