For the second time, the crew of Pen Duick VI, led by Marie Tabarly, has taken line honours in the Ocean Globe Race. But will it be enough to win overall?

Pen Duick VI is currently fourth in the overall IRC ratings in the 2023-23 Ocean Globe Race after the crew stormed up the Atlantic to take line honours in Leg 4.

The crew, led by Breton skipper Marie Tabarly, crossed the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line off Cowes, Isle of Wight, at 22.52UTC last night to claim both line honours and the IRC win for Leg 4 of the race.

This gives them a corrected elapsed time for the whole race of 180D 19H 33M.

At 73ft, Pen Duick VI is the largest yacht in the Ocean Globe Race fleet. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

At 73ft, Pen Duick VI is the largest yacht in the Ocean Globe Race fleet. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

As of 0500UTC today, Pen Duick VI was 15.5 hours behind the current overall IRC leader Triana, which has a projected elapsed time of 180D 5H 1M

At the start of Leg 4, Triana had a comfortable seven-day advantage over their nearest rivals.

But this has been eroded due to the challenging strong headwinds and wind holes which hit many of the Ocean Globe Race boats as they ran up the Atlantic. Forecasted light winds mean Triana‘s progress could be slowed further.

Pen Duick VI, which is the largest yacht in the race, could also face a threat for the overall title from the only UK yacht in the fleet, Maiden, and the Finnish entrant, Spirit of Helsinki

The Bruce Farr-designed Maiden is currently third in the overall IRC rankings, with a projected elapsed time of 180D 19H 32M. Spirit of Helsinki‘s projected time is 180D 17H 45M

Crew on board Pen Duick VI sailing yacht

Pen Duick VI took line honours in Leg 3 and Leg 4. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

Pen Duick VI led for much of Leg 4, and was the first boat to break away from the fleet and head east on a port tack before turning north; the crew crossed the Equator first and soon found the north-east trades to extend their advantage.

Tabarly has always argued that the 73ft ketch could win this race, and just needed the winds to show his true performance, having been frustrated in Legs 1 and 2, despite the team crossing the lines in fourth place and second place respectively.

The team was also slapped with a 72-hour time penalty following a protest hearing after a seal broke on the team’s comms bag. Inconclusive evidence was also presented to Race HQ that the What’s App account registered to Tabarly was active after the start of Leg 1; all modern communications equipment is banned in the retro race.

A crew celebrates on a boat with champagne

The crew celebrated after taking line honours in Leg 3. Creidit: Credit: Don / OGR2023

But by Leg 3, Pen Duick VI and his crew had found their groove,

The Bermudian ketch took 30 days to race from Auckland, New Zealand to Punta del Este in Uruguay.

Continues below…

Across the Pacific. there was a friendly rivalry with the Italian team, Translated 9, but Pen Duick VI had the edge and was the first Ocean Globe Race boat to round Cape Horn and enter the South Atlantic.

Translated 9 subsequently had to divert to the Falkland Islands after cracks appeared in the hull around the rudder skeg. This meant retirement from Leg 3.

A crew of a boat after rounding Cape HOrn

Pen Duick VI was the first Ocean Globe Race boat to round Cape Horn. Creidt: Pen Duick VI / OGR 2023

Despite repairs which allowed Translated 9 to start Leg 4, the team was forced to stop in Maderia to make repairs to the hull. Once again, the team retired.

Speaking after arriving at the Royal Yacht Squadron pontoon in Cowes, Marie Tabarly paid tribute to the Italian team.

“I am thinking of Translated 9, they were my best enemies. I told them in the beginning I would be their worst nightmare and it turned out they were my worst nightmare. There were four of us, between Spirit of Helsinki, Maiden and Translated 9 that we had a very good fight with. It was an honour and a pleasure to sail against these. But tonight, I’m thinking of Translated 9. I have connected with the people in this race, it’s extraordinary. I still don’t realise it’s over. I’m thinking there is another leg.”

Tabarly, who rotated crew during the race, said she was “very, very proud” of her team.

“I’ve got 21 amazing people, good human beings, that you want to spend time with. It was exactly what I planned with them, no surprises, everything was perfect.”

“There were so many stand-out moments. I remember we were going fast, in 55 knots of wind and there were dolphins just jumping on the waves. In 55 knots! Crazy. I remember racing very close with Translated 9 and Maiden and being able to see them. Then all the buddy chats, four times a day on the radio, I’m going to miss them. There are way too many moments, so many amazing moments,” added Tabarly.

Marie Tabarly, skipper of Pen Duick VI

For the final leg, Marie Tabarlys’s strategy was “to go fast, fast, fast and we accelerate at the end”. Credit: Tim Bishop/PPL

Winning the Ocean Globe Race overall could also settle a score for the daughter of Éric Tabarly.

Designed by André Mauric, Pen Duick VI was built by the French Navy to win the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973/73, and was launched just weeks before the race started.

On Leg 1, the boat was leading the fleet when the main mast broke. A replacement was flown from France to Cape Town and fitted in time for the start of the Cape Town to Sydney leg, which Tabarly won.

But just after the start of Leg 3, the replacement mast broke again, forcing Pen Duick VI to retire from the entire race.

Pen Duick VI was originally built with a depleted uranium keel, which gave the boat exceptional performance in light airs, due to the reduced wetted surface area.

However, the substance was subsequently banned by the International Yacht Racing Union (now World Sailing), and the yacht was refitted with a lead keel. The draught was also made deeper.

The ketch was then renamed Euromarché, and entered by Tabarly into the 1981 Whitbread Race, but finished in the middle of the fleet.

Positions of the 2023 Ocean Globe Race fleet – Leg 4: Punta del Este to Cowes at 0500 UTC on 12 April 2024. These positions will change under the IRC rating. Line honours are shown below. 

Pen Duick VI (France) – 1st 45D 7H 51M 20S
L’Esprit d’Equipe (France)
Spirit of Helsinki (Finland)
Neptune (France)
Maiden (UK)
Outlaw (Australia)
Galiana with Secure (Finland)
Triana (France)
Evrika (France)
White Shadow (Spain)
Sterna (South Africa)
Explorer (Australia)

Translated 9 (Italy)
Godspeed (USA)

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