A GOUROCK boy who grew up to become one of greatest yachtsmen of all time will finally get the home town recognition he deserves.

Forgotten hero Charlie Barr took on the elite to win the America's Cup an incredible three times and hold a world record long after his death.

The former grocer boy, who died at only 45, raced royals across the Atlantic and left legends like Sir Thomas Lipton in his slipstream.

Now more than 100 years after his death moves are afoot to finally erect a statue honouring him in his home town.

His great great grandson Alasdair Purves, who lives in Barcelona, said: "I want to do all I can to bring Charlie Barr's incredible story to life.

"He was a working class hero who took on the elite and the aristocracy but he has been forgotten about.

"It is important to have something in his home town."

Charlie struck up a winning partnership with the genius naval architect Nathanael Herreshoff and went on to sail his vessels to victory in his America's Cup campaigns.

Captain Barr won the world famous cup three times - in 1899 at the age of only 35, in 1901 at the helm of Columbia and then on Reliance in 1903.

Two years after his last America's Cup victory, Charlie put himself into the world record books by setting a speed record which was not broken for 75 years, plus and a race record which stood for 100 years.

On that particular crossing he had taken on a challenge by the Kaiser Wilhelm II to compete against ten other yachts.

But mid-race the owner of their schooner Atlantic lost his nerve in a terrifying three day storm and wanted to pull out.

Fearless Barr refused, locked the owner and his guest in the saloon and went on to win the race, averaging a record breaking 200 miles a day across the Atlantic Ocean.

Tragically the hero captain's wife was seriously ill at home and later died.

Charlie even found himself sailing against the British Monarchy, taking on King Edward VII in the Navahoe in 1893.

It was during that same sailing season he met his beloved wife Emily Smith who worked in a marine shop making chronometers in Southampton.

For the rest of his life he split his time between New York and the English port.

Charlie Barr was born on the site of the town's Castle Mansions, by the Granny Kempock Stone in 1864.

The son of a boat rental businessman at Ashton, he started working life as an apprentice grocer before becoming a fisherman.

Even in those formative years at sea he made the headlines after saving the life of his crew.

Both Charlie and his older brother John discovered a flair for competitive racing.

They took their opportunity in 1884 to sail to New York to deliver a brand new William Fife III yacht called Clara to her new owner in New York.

In 1888 Charlie and John both moved to New York to compete.

Soon Charlie proved to be a star racing captain, achieving notoriety on the race circuit in yachts designed by Clydeside singers Watson and Fife on yachts Clara, Shona, Minerva, Oweene and Wasp.

Now nearly 110 years after his death Alasdair is determined to put Charlie on the map here.

One of the most successful sportsmen of all time, he was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1993 and is feted in New York.

But up until now there have been no such accolades at home.

Records from the time describe Charlie as a fearless skipper and man of few words.

Keen 38-year-old sailor Alasdair recently visited Gourock for the first time and he is working with Councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld on creating a fitting tribute.

Alasdair, who has worked and sailed on some of Charlie's most famous yachts, is also set to make a film about his great-great grandfather.

Councillor Ahlfeld said: "This is an incredible story, but I knew nothing about it.

"We want to help put a statue in Gourock, and I will do whatever I can to help."