1973: Start of the first Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race with Chay Blyth's 'Great Britain II' leading Eric Tabarly's French entry 'Pen Duick VI'. Image: Bob Fisher/PPL Photo Agency ppl@mistral.co.uk

1973: Start of the first Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race with Chay Blyth's 'Great Britain II' leading Eric Tabarly's French entry 'Pen Duick VI'. Image: Bob Fisher/PPL Photo Agency [email protected]

Whitbread History Strong in Ocean Globe Race 50th Celebration


15/03/2023 - 09:02

The legendary Whitbread Round The World Race will forever be linked to Great Britain with those iconic images of 17 classic yachts sailing down the Solent into the unknown. It was the start of the first ever fully crewed yacht race around the world on September 8th, 1973. No one knew what would happen. Eight months later, passing the Needles on the way to the finish, the legend of the Whitbread was set.

It had cost the lives of three sailors swept overboard, but changed the lives of every sailor who had participated. With the Whitbread so connected to British yachting history, it was ironic that none had entered the Ocean Globe Race until now, with the French contingent leading the charge for honours in this 50th anniversary celebration of that first race.

Tracy Edwards, who expressed early interest in the OGR, had her plans for Maiden disrupted by the global pandemic. The iconic yacht had to stop then resume her world tour in September 2021. Her ongoing mission is to educate, empower and elevate girls, increasing their life and career choices through the all-woman Maiden Whitbread story. The crew engaged with schools, charities and organisations in more than 20 destinations around the world, raising money to fund girls' educational projects.

Now, Tracy Edwards MBE and DP World, the sponsor of The Maiden Factor World Tour, have seen a new opportunity to further their objectives and announced that Maiden and her all-female crew will enter the 2023 Ocean Globe Race.
"We are very excited to take part in the 2023 Ocean Globe Race, over 30 years since Maiden and the first all-female crew defied the odds in the 89/90 Whitbread race. Since then, Maiden has become a Global Ambassador for empowerment of girls through education and we have a young skipper and crew who will have the experience of a lifetime, just as we did all those years ago."
Maiden had first entered the 1981 Whitbread as Disque d'Or III with Swiss skipper Pierre Fehlmann. Tracy had entered the 85-86 edition as a cook on Atlantic Privateer, one of only five women in the 200 crew participation. She was determined to change that. In 1989 Maiden, Great Britain and Tracy Edwards made history. She entered the first ever all-female crew. She was met with disbelief, raising more than a few eyebrows in what was then a male-dominated sport. Yet, this "tin full of tarts" as the late yachting journalist Bob Fisher infamously nicknamed Maiden, gave the boys a run for their money, winning two legs in the Southern Ocean and leading their class!

28th May 1990 – Maiden crossing the Whitbread finish line, surrounded by supporters. Image: Andrew Sassoli-Walker
28th May 1990 – Maiden crossing the Whitbread finish line, surrounded by supporters. Image: Andrew Sassoli-Walker

When Don McIntyre, the OGR Founder, offered Tracy a special dispensation from the mixed gender crew rule of the OGR, she initially said, "No! I think I will take a male cook!". With sailor extraordinaire Marie-Claude Heys (GBR) on board for the round trip, Maiden is certainly a strong contender in the historic Flyer Class!
"We are delighted to have Maiden back in the OGR, joining the strong Flyer Class, currently dominated by the well prepared entries of Marie Tabarly and Pen Duick VI and Lionel Regnier and L'Esprit d'Equipe, soon to be joined by Tanneguy Raffray's Neptune. We have given special dispensation to Maiden in regard to the OGR rule of mixed gender crew in recognition of her historic achievement. Everyone involved is excited to see her race with an all-female crew and once again inspire women around the world."


The OGR digs deep into the Whitbread's historic roots!
Many historic Whitbread veterans had expressed a strong interest in entering the OGR. Covid, the war and sponsor challenges upset many plans, but some of the best will make the start line. Pen Duick VI tops the list! With Eric Tabarly she participated in the inaugural 1973 Whitbread, dismasting twice and creating controversy with a depleted uranium keel. She came back again in 1981, four tons lighter with a redesigned keel as Euromarché, finishing in 10th position. She is coming back to win in the 2023 OGR under the command of Marie Tabarly, a truly amazing sailor and a woman of indomitable spirit, who has assembled an impressive and talented young crew of diverse characters.

Onboard 'Flyer' surfing in the heavy weather in the Southern Ocean during the 1981/2 Whitbread. Skippered by Cornelis van Rietschoten, Flyer won the race on handicap and took line honours. Image: Dr Julian Fuller/PPL Photo Agency ppl@mistral.co.uk
Onboard 'Flyer' surfing in the heavy weather in the Southern Ocean during the 1981/2 Whitbread. Skippered by Cornelis van Rietschoten, Flyer won the race on handicap and took line honours. Image: Dr Julian Fuller/PPL Photo Agency [email protected]

Another 1981 Whitbread legend in the OGR is 33 Export, specially designed for that race by Philippe Briand. Deeply modified and re-entering the 1985 edition with Lionel Péan as skipper, under the name L'Esprit d'Equipe, she became the first ever French yacht to win the Whitbread.

France had to wait 30 years for another win in the 2011/2012 Volvo Ocean Globe Race with Groupama 4 led by Frank Cammas and his Dream Team including Damien Coville, Jean-Luc Nélias and Charles Caudrelier. Meanwhile, L'Esprit d'Equipe again returned in the 1989 Whitbread as L'Esprit de Liberté is back recreating history a fourth time in the OGR with a Vendée-based team led by Lionel Regnier and supported by Les Sables d'Olonne.

Both teams have been training hard for the OGR through 2022 and 2023, joining many classic races, including the Round Ireland Race, the Dhream Cup, the RORC transatlantic Challenge and last month the RORC Caribbean 600. This was part of an Atlantic Tour that was going to take them to New York for an historic photo shoot at the feet of another famous French staple in the U.S., the Statue of Liberty. Alas, both yachts encountered severe weather conditions in a large low-pressure system en route to NYC and had to divert their route. Twice Pen Duick broke her steering cables in the heavy conditions and had to be steered by tiller back to Bermuda, a serious job for such a powerful yacht.

Marie Tabarly / Pen Duick
Marie Tabarly / Pen Duick

Marie Tabarly (FRA) was disappointed not to sail Pen Duick VI back to the US 48 years after her father's victory in the 1976 OSTAR. She flew to New York to meet the press and members of the New York Yacht Club, greeted by the French Consul General in NYC Jérémie Robert.

"It was important for me to welcome Marie Tabarly to New York as she represents the French excellence in sailing. I was delighted to learn more about her adventure as part of the Ocean Globe Race as well as her commitment to protecting the environment through her Elemen'Terre project."


Neptune, God of the seas, is back with a mission
Neptune was commissioned to André Mauric to compete in the 1977 Whitbread by the photographer for a team of journalists related to the then leading French yachting magazine Neptune Yachting, including famed editor-in-chief Daniel Gilles and famous pipe-smoking journalist Bernard Rubinstein who sailed the 1973 edition on Eric Tabarly's Pen Duick VI. This time the most famous crew on board is Bertand Delhomme, an experienced sailor suffering from Parkinson's disease who decided to race around the world to deliver a message of hope for the 7 million Parkinson's patients in the world, including 200,000 in France.
"As in any adventure, one must see his chance and seize it. Our first chance is to have met Neptune, built for the Whibread, through Daniel Gilles who raced on board the second edition of the race. Our second chance is to have met Bertrand who joined our project and gave it another dimension. With him on board despite his illness, he will feed and share our dream. He carries us by his strength of character and his will. Our third chance is the meeting, this link that unites us all around the project, pushing us beyond, with the only goal to sail together on Neptune and to build more than a team: a "crew"!"

Neptune during her recent refit. Images: Tanneguy Raffray
Neptune during her recent refit. Images: Tanneguy Raffray

Back in a deep refit, Neptune is now being brought back to her former glory by an experienced team including the original team member and Tabarly biographer Daniel Gilles. She now has the BIP (Bateau d'intérêt du Partimoine) label, support from both the Département du Morbihan where she is refitted and the French Ministry of Health for her role in raising awareness against Parkinson's disease. She is planning to be out of the shed in May for La Semaine du Golfe, a 1000-strong meeting of classic yachts.

The S&S Swan 65 design, the Whitbread legend!

'Sayula II' skippered by Ramon Carlin, returning to Portsmouth to win the first Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. Image: PPL Photo Agency ppl@mistral.co.uk
'Sayula II' skippered by Ramon Carlin, returning to Portsmouth to win the first Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. Image: PPL Photo Agency [email protected]

The first Whitbread victory went to Mexican Ramon Carlin in a production Nautors Swan 65 with his family crew on Sayula II. This weekend sailor inspired many other round-the-world hopefuls to enter the same or a modified version of this iconic yacht in later editions. In 1977, four of the first finishers were Swan 65's or an emulation of the legendary yacht.

Nick Ratcliff on King's Legend takes 2nd place, the Swiss skipper Pierre Fehlman takes 4th place on Disque d'Or while Clare Francis, the first woman to lead a crew in a round the world race finishes 4th on ADC Accutrac. Flyer. The race winner in the hands of Cornelis van Rietschoten, while not strictly speaking a S&S 65, was designed by the same famed architect as an extended custom aluminium 68-foot version to beat the 65.

45 years later, ADC Accutrac is back with the OGR in the Flyer Class as Translated 9 in the hands of Marco Trombetti. Dominique Dubois from Lorient recently lost his beautiful Swan 651 Futuro damaged beyond repair, blown over on the hard in a violent storm. He has replaced her with a Swan 65 Evrika, the former yacht of Pink Floyd's keyboardist Richard Wright, considered one of the finest afloat.

Other Whitbread boats and crew celebrate 50 years in the OGR!

Two former Whitbread entrants are back in the OGR with the same Swan 55 yawl S&S designs. Tapio Lehtinen, the GGR 2018 and 2022 veteran who first went around the world as a 23-year-old on board the Baltic 51 Skopbank of Finland in the Whitbread 1981. He has entered his immaculate Galiana with a young Finish crew. Arnaud Lizop from Marseille who first rounded Cape Horn on Pen Duick III during the original Whitbread in 1973 has entered his Swan 55 Nakamal.

Swan 651
Swan 651 "Spirit of Helsinki"

Spirit of Helsinki is a German Frers designed production Swan 651 specifically commissioned for the 1985 Whitbread, which she finished on the podium as Fazer Finland skippered by Michael Berner. Nearly four decades later she is back after a full rebuild with a Finnish team led by Jussi Paavoseppä. He specifically looked for a historic Whitbread yacht to participate in this 50th Anniversary celebration Ocean Globe Race.

The Baltic 55 Australian OGR entry Spirit of Adelaide was originally commissioned for the 1985 Whitbread under Dutch flag as Outlaw. Her team has strong family connections with the Whitbread.

Crew Dougie Mill always wanted to sail around the world inspired by his father. He discovered the Ocean Globe Race celebrating the original spirit of amateur sailing and he immediately wanted to get involved. Months later, he read about Team Spirit of Adelaide buying Outlaw, the very same boat his dad Alastair Mill had raced on in the 85 Whitbread finishing in 9th place as Equity & Law. He signed on Spirit of Adelaide, sets sail from America to Europe at the end of April and has a sudden vacancy for Chief Mate in the OGR! If you have some serious sailing experience and a year to spare, click here for details.

McIntyre Adventure team vacancies!

With 18 boats signed up for the start of the OGR, the management team is ramping up with new Operations Manager Georgie Vinter joining Don, Jane, Seb, Lutz, Rob, Aida and Marco this week. Georgie is a keen British ocean sailor involved in race training for kids and years of race and event management, later joining the Royal Yachting Association in the racing rules department. We are now looking for a general assistant CREW MANAGER based in Les Sables d'Olonne.

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