Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik Yachting Range

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

Newport Boat Show 2016 660x82Southern Spars - 100InSunSport - NZ

Related Articles

Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge - Race 13 arrivals complete
Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, arrivals are now complete following arrival of IchorCoal at 2300 local time As Visit Seattle, PSP Logistics and Da Nang – Viet Nam celebrated their podium finishes in race 13, the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, arrivals are now complete following the arrival of IchorCoal at 2300 local time this evening.
Posted today at 7:48 am
Vic-Maui Yacht Race - Kraken one, Darby no score
In real race, not artificial ones that sailboats make up between themselves, Kraken beat Mother Nature’s child – Darby 2016 Vic-Maui Yacht Race - In a real race, not the artificial ones that sailboats make up between themselves, Kraken has beat Mother Nature’s child – Darby. Mark and Annette Malacek’s Beneteau First 40.7 from West Vancouver Yacht Club crossed the finish line around 1:45 pm local time. It was great relief to the many family and fans that greeted Kraken's arrival.
Posted today at 7:20 am
2016 Pacific Cup - Friday finishers action-shots by Lauren Easley
Photographer Lauren Easley was in air at 2016 Pacific Cup and provided this gallery of images from Friday action. Photographer Lauren Easley was in air at finish of the Pacific Cup raced from San Francisco to Honolulu and provided this gallery of images from Friday action.
Posted today at 6:38 am
France Blue, Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup favourite?
Calling form on Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is hard, as for team to be successful all three of its boats must perform Calling form on the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is hard, as for a team to be successful, all three of its boats must perform. This, plus the event's week-long duration and diverse race format, make the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial championship for Corinthian crews one of the pinnacle racing events internationally held under a rating rule.
Posted today at 5:24 am
ORC Worlds - Three new ORC World Champions crowned in Copenhagen
A light southerly arose just in time to get one last race in for all three classes on concluding day of 2016 ORC Worlds 2016 ORC Worlds - After an initial delay this morning due to no wind that threatened to keep everyone ashore like yesterday, a light southerly arose just in time to get one last race in for all three classes on the concluding day of the 2016 ORC World Championship, hosted by the Royal Danish YC and Egaa Sailing Club.
Posted today at 4:45 am
Transat Québec Saint-Malo – Class40s sail into Saint-Malo
Twelve of the nineteen Class40s racing in the ninth edition of the Transat Québec Saint-Malo 2016 Transat Québec Saint-Malo - Twelve of the nineteen Class40s racing in the ninth edition of the Transat Québec Saint-Malo presented in collaboration with the City of Lévis are now safely moored at the Quai Duguay-Trouin wharf in Saint-Malo at the foot of the ramparts as the sun prepares to go down over the Corsair City.
Posted today at 3:09 am
LVACWS Portsmouth 2016 – standing room only.
There are no half measures where English weather is concerned. There are no half measures where English weather is concerned. Happily, that means that when it’s good it very, very good. Blue skies, sunshine, 23 deg C, clean air, and the whole place looks as if has put on a party frock and got lit up. Wonderful.
Posted on 23 Jul
America’s Cup World Series 2016 – More Day 1 images by Carlo Borlenghi
Photographer Carlo Borlenghi has provided this gallery of images from race day one Photographer Carlo Borlenghi has provided this gallery of images from race day one
Posted on 23 Jul
America’s Cup World Series 2016 – Race Day 1 images by Carlo Borlenghi
Photographer Carlo Borlenghi has provided this gallery of images from race day one Photographer Carlo Borlenghi has provided this gallery of images from race day one
Posted on 23 Jul
America’s Cup World Series – Sir Ben jumps into the lead in Portsmouth
Hot, sunny conditions and thousands of fans lining the Portsmouth seafront was the backdrop to crowd-pleasing action. The home team, Land Rover BAR, led by skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, recovered from a poor first race result to win the second two contests and complete the day at the top of the leaderboard, much to the delight of the tens of thousands of cheering fans lining the shorefront.
Posted on 23 Jul