Extraordinary boats: Pen Duick VI

Pen Duick VI is the 73ft ketch built for Eric Taberly’s 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race entry and is set to compete in the 50th anniversary Ocean Globe Race, in 2023. Rupert Holmes reports

Few yachts are more iconic, or have done more to inspire others, than the late Eric Tabarly’s Pen Duick series. Pen Duick VI, a 73-footer built for the 1973/4 Whitbread Round the World Race, is the ultimate boat in the line.

Although approaching 50 years old, Pen Duick VI is far from retirement, despite having already sailed an estimated 300,000 miles. Tabarly’s daughter, Marie, recently announced an entry in the Ocean Globe Race, the re-run of the original Whitbread organised by Don MacIntyre, and also took part in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race.

A talented sailor and adventurer in her own right, Marie has already skippered the boat on voyages to Patagonia and Iceland.

“I was looking at what to do for the boat’s 50th anniversary that is coming up, after Covid wrecked our original plans for a circumnavigation,” she told me on board in Lorient, “So the OGR is perfect.”

Marie Tabarly is following in her father’s footsteps by taking Pen Duick VI onto a new series of racing campaigns. Photo: Martin Keruzore/ Element’erre

The boat is already in good shape, following a big refit over the winter of 2011/12, plus a further one ahead of the five month voyage to Greenland and Iceland three years ago. Therefore only minimal changes are needed to make the boat ready for the OGR.

The biggest of these is a return to Dacron sails and replacement of the standing rigging. The aluminium hull also needs to be fared and repainted, while a minor galley refit is planned.

Pen Duick VI was intended to win the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973/4. The André Mauric design was built by the French Navy and launched only a few weeks before the start of the race. Unlike some of his earlier boats, Tabarly was not the naval architect for this project, but worked closely with Mauric on every aspect.

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