Pen-Duick VI

A symbol of sailing in French people's hearts and minds

Pen-Duick VI is a legend in the world of ocean racing. A steel colossus of 22 metres and 33 tonnes. Designed in 1973 by Marseille architect André Mauric for the first ever Whitbread, a perilous around-the-world race, the boat showed marvellous potential but was unfortunately forced to retire after breaking her mast twice. From 1973 to 1977, the boat took part in all great offshore races with the likes of Kersauson, Pajot, Coste, Titouan Lamazou, Poupon, Le Cam and other greats onboard.


In 1976 Eric Tabarly decided to compete in the Single Handed Ocean Race, which he had already won in 1964. There was no way of building a new design in time so he decided to use Pen-Duick VI. Few people had confidence in the idea. Having been designed for a crew of 14,  handling her was physically challenging and required many hands on deck. Attempting to solo race her from Plymouth to Newport was life-threatening.

After sailing through 5 weather depressions in a row, experiencing an auto-pilot breakdown, and spending sleepless nights contemplating giving up due to extreme setbacks and exhaustion, Eric began to believe the worst as well, but to everyone’s surprise it was he-after two weeks of radio silence-who crossed the finish line first on the 23rd day. Neither the committee nor the journalists were there to witness it, not even his family, as nobody had known where he had been. He too had lost his bearings.


Following this victory, Pen-Duick VI took part in a few other races, but the evolution of hulls and the technological development of racing boats soon made her performance obsolete. She then started a new stage in her life as a charter vessel for expedition yachting. For 15 years now Pen-Duick VI has crisscrossed the world from Greenland to Patagonia via Brazil and the West Indies. To date, she has sailed the equivalent of 14 times around the globe.

My mother Jacqueline and I are still her owners. For me, this journey will be a marvellous opportunity to meet once more all those who contributed to her history, as this boat has left memories all over the world!