Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars

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

Mariners Museum 660x82PredictWind.comC-Tech

Related Articles

Challenge of the Nord Stream Race beckons for rookie offshore sailors
Some young, talented sailors are about to undergo one of the biggest challenges as they set sail in the 1,000nm race While all the competitors taking part in the race are expert sailors in some form of the sport, many of them are completely new to sailing out of sight of land and concentrating for hours and days at a time.
Posted today at 5:01 pm
Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards nomination period open
There are two categories - male and female - and sailors nominated may represent any discipline of the sport. World Sailing will draw up a shortlist of nominations with the highest and most inspirational achievers going on to become the 2017 Rolex World Sailor of the Year Nominees.
Posted today at 4:30 pm
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week – Day 2 – Calm except on starting line
Day two was very different to the first. Black Jack's new tactician, Tom Slingsby isn't afraid to match race 100 footers Day two of Audi Australia Hamilton Island Race Week was very different to the first! I started with the cruising fleet starts, and then headed over to the IRC divisions where we witnessed 100 foot maxis pushing the start line after a long delay due to unstable wind on the offshore course.
Posted today at 4:13 pm
Volvo Ocean Race - Southern Spars VO65 masts help slash race record
Southern Spars new run of VO65 masts passed their first test, helping MAPFRE carve seven minutes off the Round the IOW Southern Spars new run of VO65 masts passed their first test, helping MAPFRE carve seven minutes off the Round the Isle of Wight record. The seven teams took off around the race course which was the setting for the foundation race for the America’s Cup.
Posted today at 2:40 pm
Clipper Race – Day 1, Race 1 – Settling in
With less than 20nm separating the fleet between first and twelfth place, positions are expected to change regularly Once clear of the River Mersey, teams began to progress towards the Irish sea, but changeable and fickle wind conditions teamed with close proximity racing overnight made for a tiring night with regular sail changes and movement of leader board positions.
Posted today at 2:08 pm
Spectacular race expected as Extreme Sailing Series returns to Cardiff
The fleet of seven GC32s will include British-flagged wildcard entry Team Extreme Wales, skippered by Stevie Morrison. The ultimate Stadium Racing championship will headline the Cardiff Harbour Festival over the August Bank Holiday, with the free-entry Fan Zone, located next to the Norwegian Church, offering the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the thrilling racing.
Posted today at 1:54 pm
Oman Air hopes history will repeat at Extreme Sailing Series Cardiff
Fresh from back-to-back victories, the Oman Air head to Cardiff this week aiming to maintain 100 percent winning streak It is an unrivalled sequence of success the current Oman Air crew will want to continue as they set out to reinforce their position on top of the overall series leaderboard.
Posted today at 1:29 pm
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week – Day 2 – Short and long, old and new
All divisions contesting passage races were finished at Denman Island as the sou’easter ran out of grunt over the course Light shifty winds on the Eastern Course for the IRC Racing division caused a long delay in the commencement of their windward/leeward program.
Posted today at 12:39 pm
J Class World Championship 2017 action-shots by Carlo Borlenghi
Carlo Borlenghi provided this gallery of images from J Class World Championship 2017. Carlo Borlenghi provided this gallery of images from J Class World Championship 2017.
Posted today at 7:24 am
St. Francis Yacht Club reclaims Hinman Trophy Team Race
After three years of close, but not quite, St. Francis Yacht Club is again the champions After three years of close, but not quite, St. Francis Yacht Club is again the champions of the New York Yacht Club Invitational Team Race Regatta for the Commodore George R. Hinman Masters Trophy. The West Coast team has been one of the strongest masters team racing crews for the past decade, including a run of three straight Hinman Trophy wins from 2011 to 2013.
Posted today at 2:28 am