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Ocean Globe Race: April 12 - The French Channel - Brian Hancock Daily Blog #214

by Brian Hancock 12 Apr 18:06 PDT 13 April 2024
Marie Tabarly and the crew of Pen Duick VI at the finish of the Ocean Globe Race at Cowes - April 12, 2024 © Tim Bishop/PPL

The Ocean Globe Race is a no technology crewed race around the world sailing the the traditional four leg Whitbread Round the World Race course. The Ocean Globe Race celebrates 50 years of Whitbread Round the World race, boats and sailors. Brian Hancock, a noted Round the World sailor and writer is providing a daily blog for the Ocean Globe Race. Here's the April 12 edition - #214 in the series:

Marie Tabarly (and her crew) rolled into the English Channel like a debutante arriving at a summer ball at a plantation house in Southern Georgia. Pretty, decked out, and about to put her stamp on that beautiful trophy that shows that she dominated Leg 4 of this grand adventure.

At first Pen Duick VI grabbed the coattails of a low pressure system while heading toward the finish line. Somehow, maybe in the spirit of her father the late great Eric Tabarly, she magically sent those galeforce winds off to bother some farmer and his sheep on the west coast of Ireland and it cleared the way for a grand arrival. And it was; until it wasn’t. The Ocean Globe Race can be a tricky little bugger (last nautical term of these updates.) It appears as if they hit some foul current (of which there is plenty in the English Channel) and holed up off the south coast of England waiting for their break. There may just have been some scrubbing to do to make the boat shine its best before heading for the finish line later in the evening. By the time Pen Duick VI arrived at the finish line off the Royal Yacht Squadron at 22.52 UTC (late local time.) the debutant’s dress had more than a few wrinkles in it.

There have been many books written about Eric Tabarly and I don’t need or intend to write the next one, but suffice is to say that he single-handedly (pun intended) launched the entire French solo sailing scene that now features some of the best athletes in the world. Despite this accomplishment Eric never won an around-the-world race with Pen Duick VI. That honor he left to his daughter Marie and she did an incredible job and she and her team are our hero’s. They won on Line Honors, First in Flyer Class and First on IRC, all for Leg 4. I was going to say that it’s going to be hard to match that accomplishment, but they don’t have to and a good hour in the shower might just set things straight.

Pen Duick VI will be docked in Cowes for the next 48-hours but the stress is not quite over. They still have a chance at beating the overall race leader Triana for the ultimate prize; The winner of the inaugural OGR. Triana enjoys a 19 hour lead but we all know how quickly that can evaporate if the wind dies out, it’s back to nail biting if any of the team have any nails left to bite. We will keep an eye on things. Meanwhile, before we get too far ahead of ourselves L’ Esprit D’ Equipe have just over 200 miles to go and in the last 24 hours managed 210 nautical miles. There must be some magic potion in the water of the French boats because L’ Esprit D’ Equipe have found a sweet ride on the right side of a low pressure system coming out of the Bay of Biscay and are averaging over nine knots.

While they fight it out I have proposed a bill for the Parliament Français and the British Parliament to consider. For just 24-hours can they change the name of the English Channel to the French Channel. It seems only fitting doesn’t it?

Brian Hancock - photo © OCG2023
Brian Hancock - photo © OCG2023
About the author: Brian Hancock (RSA) is a sailmaker, racing yacht sailor and writer. He has sailed more than 250,000nm; competed in many transoceanic events including three Whitbread Round the World Races - 1981 Alaska Eagle (U.S.A.); 1985 Drum (United Kingdom); and 1989, Fazisi (Soviet Union); he is a writer on sailing topics. For The Ocean Globe Race Ocean Globe Race Brian is writing a day by day account based on his previous experiences in the Whitbread Round the World Race and other events, often related to the current position of the lead competitors on the Ocean Globe Race course.

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