Pen-Duick IV

A replica to take on the 2026 Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe!

The legendary Pen-Duick family of ocean racing yachts is part of France’s national psyche. Sailed by the famous skipper Éric Tabarly (credited with ending the British domination of ocean racing and inspiring a generation of sailors), all of the Pen Duicks survive today except one - number IV, and this was the only multihull! There’s a good reason for this: the trimaran disappeared in 1978... And yet, the Pen-Duick saga is not far from being complete...

Tabarly’s legendary 1898 cutter, remolded and laminated by the man himself to become the first Pen Duick, has been listed as a Historic Monument since 2017.Tabarly passed away in 1998, but the Éric Tabarly association, which manages the five remaining Pen-Duick boats, has launched an initiative to have all its vessels listed as well... “Deliberations are currently underway at Brittany’s department of culture,” explains Arnaud Pennarun, sailor-boatbuilder, “This would be a first in France and in Europe: no fleet of sailing boats, each bearing witness to a part of the history of ocean racing and to the genius innovations of a single man, has managed to be preserved as a whole until today and obtained this status which would enable it to avoid being dispersed.
Arnaud knows his subject perfectly, having completed the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe 2022 aboard Pen-Duick III... and just after the exploits of Marie Tabarly (Éric’s daughter), who has just won the Ocean Globe Race aboard Pen-Duick VI, the skipper has announced a project that’s ambitious, to say the least: to be on the startline of the 2026 edition of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe 2026 in the Rhum Multi category aboard a replica of Pen-Duick IV, no less. The news broke on April 24, not April 1, so it’s no joke (tasteful if it had been...).
Construction of the trimaran, which would be carried out by the Chantier Naval de Pors-Moro shipyard at Pont-L’Abbé in western Brittany, run by Arnaud, could start at the end of 2024.
We’re missing the link from 1968, the year that saw the birth of Pen-Duick IV, the largest, most innovative and fastest trimaran of her generation,” argues the sailor. “Rebuilding this multihull is an opportunity to complete the Pen-Duick fleet and bring the six of them together again. What’s more, the teams and size of the Chantier Naval de Pors-Moro will enable us to rebuild this trimaran, so emblematic of ocean racing, with precision and fidelity,” he points out, claiming that “A boat of this caliber can’t stay on the pontoon for too long with her Pen-Duick siblings.” He hopes to race her in the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, then take her to the start of The Transat CIC (originally the OSTAR), “The race for which she was designed and built”.

Pen-Duick IV, the first ocean-racing trimaran

Designed by naval architect André Allègre, from Sète in the South of France, Pen-Duick IV, was built in 1968 at Chantiers et Ateliers de la Perrière in Lorient, Brittany, and was an ultra-modern aluminum trimaran for its time. As a pioneer, Éric Tabarly had imagined a trimaran 68 feet long by 35 feet in beam (20.8 m by 10.7 m), equipped with two rotating masts. The goal: to design the world’s fastest trimaran for the third edition of the OSTAR. Forced to retire from the 1968 edition of the transatlantic race, the trimaran nicknamed “the giant octopus” or “the tennis court” revolutionized ocean racing and went on to set a string of records. With the wingmasts being difficult to handle, the “IV”, fitted with a more traditional rig, smashed the record for the Atlantic crossing between the Canaries and the West Indies in December of the same year, before taking part in the Los Angeles - Honolulu in July 1969, though out of the race (trimarans were not allowed), two days ahead of the biggest American monohulls of the time. The boat then passed into the hands of Alain Colas, one of Éric Tabarly’s crew. He won the OSTAR in 1972, beating the event record in the process, before reinforcing the structure and forward stability of all three hulls at the shipyard where she was built. Having rounded the Horn aboard his boat, Alain Colas renamed it Manureva and completed the solo round-the-world race via the Great Capes in 1973. Five years later, he took the start of the first Route du Rhum, but disappeared with his trimaran on November 16, 1978, off the Azores, while in second place.

On course for 2026

Before embarking on the adventure, it was necessary to “patiently gather plans, photos and testimonials concerning Pen-Duick IV,” as Arnaud Pennarun points out, “surprised by the audacity of the technological choices made in 1968”. At this stage, the sailor entrepreneur is working with a certification and structural calculation organization to anticipate the challenges of the future construction. “We have opted for a faithful reconstruction of Pen-Duick IV, taking into account the modifications made between 1968 and 1970 by Éric Tabarly, as well as certain improvements made by Alain Colas,” he explains. “To get construction underway, which would complete the Pen Duick heritage fleet and revive a monument to international ocean racing, we’ll be looking for one or more financial partners willing to project themselves onto a modern ocean racing circuit with a racing trimaran which, we assure you, will once again astonish with its speed,” he concludes.
Pen-Duick IV’s home port will of course be the Cité de la Voile Éric Tabarly in Lorient La Base, Brittany.

Specifications of Pen-Duick IV
Builder: Chantiers et Ateliers de La Perrière, Lorient
Architect: André Allègre
Material: aluminum
Length overall: 68’3” (20.8 m)
Waterline length: 64’ (19.5 m)
Beam: 35’1” (10.7 m)
Draft: 7’10”/2’7” (2.4 m/0.8 m)
Displacement: 17,600 lbs (8 t)
Upwind sail area: 1,152 sq ft (107 m²)

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