Please select your home edition
Edition
upffront 728x90

The Transat - Fifty years on from Eric Tabarly’s historic 1964 victory

by The Transat on 16 May 2014
French sailor Eric Tabarly stands on the deck of Pen Duick II as he crosses the finish line in Newport, Rhode Island, 18 June 1964 to win the transatlantic race betwen Plymouth and Newport. © AFP
This Sunday, 18th May the Eric Tabarly Museum in Lorient, France will be hosting a day of celebrations to mark the occasion of Eric Tabarly’s participation and historic win in the 1964 solo transatlantic race, then known as the OSTAR.

With only two years to go to the next edition of this famous race, now known as The Transat since 2004, it is fitting that Tabarly’s victory acts as a reminder of all that is great about this legendary race. The racing boats may have changed beyond all recognition in fifty years, but the essence of solo pioneering spirit, courage and determination remain the same today…

The second OSTAR in 1964 was the launch pad for one of the most influential figures in the history of single-handed sailing, the development of sailing as a sport in France and in offshore race boat design. In 1960 Francis Chichester had managed the North Atlantic crossing in 40 days, then 32 year-old French naval lieutenant Eric Tabarly won the 1964 race taking just 27 days, three hours and 56 minutes aboard his 44-ft ketch Pen Duick II. Publicity from the first OSTAR turned the second race, that started on 23rd May 1964, into a media circus with a number of the 15 competitors signed up by national newspapers.

Tabarly, the only Frenchman in the race, was the sailor’s favourite for the race with the advantage of sailing the largest boat and the only one purpose built for the event. He had also carried out an in-depth study of the weather and was physically very fit, which was not the case for all the competitors! Arriving at the finish in Newport, Rhode Island, he had no prior knowledge of his win – he had not used his radio during the race – and, almost as a passing comment, let slip that his self-steering system had only worked for the first eight days out of the 27 days it took him to complete the course.

Tabarly became an overnight hero in France and for his endeavour was presented with his country’s highest honour, the Legion d’Honneur by President de Gaulle. Nevertheless, the skipper never lost sight of his priorities, and declined the first presidential invitation because the ceremony coincided with the day he had intended to repaint his boat! A few months later, a somewhat begrudged De Gaulle sent another invitation, in the following terms: 'I would be delighted to be able to count on your presence… if the tide is favourable of course.'

Tabarly’s last major race was the double-handed 1997 Transat Jacques Vabre, winning the monohull division. Just a few months later, in early June 1998, Eric Tabarly drowned after he was knocked off Pen Duick I, his beloved Fife cruising yacht, during heavy weather whilst on a routine delivery off the South Wales coast. So France lost its father of modern day ocean racing. The influence of Tabarly cannot be underestimated… His win in the 1964 and then the 1976 OSTAR caused such a sensation in France that it motived an entire generation of sailors to follow his example.

The Transat is the heir of the oldest singlehanded transatlantic race, the OSTAR, which shaped modern offshore racing. A 2,800 mile North Atlantic course renowned for wild depressions, icebergs and freezing fog. The last 12 editions of the race, held once every four years since 1960, have produced a rich history of triumph over adversity that has accumulated in record-breaking results. The first race was competed by just a handful of pioneering sailors including Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler who coined the phrase: 'One man, one boat, the ocean'. There has been tragedy, dramatic rescues and exceptional drama since the race began. Over time The Transat, as it is known today, has evolved and now serves the professional end of offshore sailing. But there are few modern day races that can reflect on such a long and outstanding Event website

T Clewring CruisingInSunSport - NZAncasta Ker 40+ 660x82

Related Articles

2015 -16 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - This day last year…
Around St Katharine Docks, air was full of nervous energy and a sense of anticipation as Clipper Race crew said goodbye 2015 -16 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Around St Katharine Docks, the air was full of nervous energy and a sense of anticipation as the Clipper 2015-16 Race crew said goodbye to the thousands of well-wishers that gathered to bid them farewell on their round the world adventure.
Posted today at 5:37 am
Full focus on board Oman Air for Extreme Sailing Series St Petersburg
With a lead on the overall scoreboard following their last gasp win in Hamburg the pressure is on to maintain 100% focus With a five-point lead on the overall scoreboard, following their last gasp win in Hamburg, the pressure is on to maintain 100% focus to make sure they perform to their maximum capabilities right up until the final race in Sydney in December.
Posted on 30 Aug
Zhik sailors win 17 sailing medals at 2016 Olympic Regatta
The 2016 Olympic games are over and what a Games they have been - Zhik sailors dominated Zhik sailors won almost 60% of the medals contested at Rio de Janeiro. It was a regatta which tested sailors and gear - with one day being the most severe conditions ever experienced at an Olympic regatta. For the Zhik team riders on the waters of Rio, four years and more of hard work and dedication have paid off for many.
Posted on 29 Aug
Hollandia wins 8 Metre World Cup
After nine race series, Netherlands' Hollandia wins it with eight points. The racing took place in a range of conditions After a five day, nine race series, Hollandia of the Netherlands wins it with eight points. The racing took place in a range of conditions and Hollandia managed to win every race.
Posted on 29 Aug
Volvo Ocean Race - Enright and Towill ready to go again in 2017/18
Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright and his long-time buddy Mark Towill are eager to put their experience to use. Team Alvimedica were the youngest team in the race last edition, and now skipper Charlie Enright and his long-time buddy Mark Towill are eager to put that experience to use. Volvo Ocean race's Jonno Turner caught up with Mark and Charlie to chat about everything from the transition back into 'real life', their reflections on the 2014-15 campaign - and the future.
Posted on 29 Aug
The door’s been flung open – again
Now whether it was the Champagne or something far more ethereal, there is the chance that sailing gets sexier for Tokyo Now whether it was the Champagne or something far more ethereal, there is the chance that sailing may get sexier for Tokyo 2020. Yes, the proverbial door has been cast ajar before, often to much fanfare, and not that much has been achieved.
Posted on 28 Aug
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Crew catch up - Meet Dhruv Boruah
After crew members have completed their global ocean adventure, some go back to their previous lives and occupations After crew members have completed their global ocean adventure, some go back to their previous lives and occupations, some decide on a future in the marine industry, some take time out to assess their next move in life and others seek their next challenge.
Posted on 27 Aug
Vendée Globe – Yann Eliès and his team relaunch 60-ft IMOCA in Lorient
Yann is now on the final stretch before the event and will be taking part in the three training courses. Yann is now on the final stretch before the event and will be taking part in the three training courses organised at the Finistère Ocean Racing Centre in Port-la-Forêt (Brittany). He will also take part in the Azimut Trophy. Yann Eliès tells us about the work that has been done and what lies ahead in the final part of his preparation.
Posted on 26 Aug
Vendée Globe – A long trip between France and Iceland for Heerema
After completing two solo transatlantic crossings in the spring, Pieter Heerema is currently on his third major trip. After completing two solo transatlantic crossings in the spring, Pieter Heerema is currently on his third major trip. Thanks to this voyage from France to Iceland and back, the Dutch skipper is finding out more about No Way Back, the new generation IMOCA on which he will line up on 6th November
Posted on 26 Aug
Phoenix returns and Cayard is back for the TP52 World Championships
Richard Cohen will compete at the championships in Mahón, Menorca, with Phoenix, which will be skippered by Paul Cayard. The carefully assembled team includes a core group of sailors who have many years of experience in the class, but Cayard cautions that their initial objective is to learn and improve together in line with their long term goal, to be competitive on the 2017 52 Super Series.
Posted on 26 Aug