Transat Jacques-Vabre: Marie Tabarly, a name that floats in the wind



Him it’s him, me it’s me. At 37 years old, Marie Tabarly does not live with the constant references to her father, who died in the Irish Sea in 1998, which is constantly brought up to her. She also makes any request for an interview with the condition that one speaks to her above all… of something else. The fact remains that this famous name stops passers-by on the quays of Le Havre, where is moored awaiting departure Kostum-Lantana landscape, the Imoca (18 m monohull) of which she will share a quarter with the skipper Louis Duc.

This has always been the case for the one who shares with her father – he offered himself as soon as he had had three cents on an old baptized cutter Pen Duick – the taste of… old boats. Like this Kostum-Lantana landscape which burned down in 2019 on the same Le Havre quay, just before the start of the previous edition of the Transat Jacques-Vabre. “Louis and I have known each other for a long time, I find it courageous to embark on the adventure of rearming a boat that was abandoned, she says, it is a beautiful story of man and sea. Sailboats deserve to live a long time, more than the time of a few races. “

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On board, she will lend him a hand and her long sailing experience to bring the boat to port. “I’m here to help Louis bring him to the other side and take him in hand, with the aim for him to participate in the Vendée Globe in 2024”, explains the one who sailed for a long time in the early 2000s aboard Geronimo, the fastest multihull of its time, with the best pupil of his father, Olivier de Kersauson, at the helm.

“We are not the type to feel sorry for in the family”

Marie Tabarly also used her oilskin bottoms on Pen Duick which she inherited with her mother Jacqueline, in particular the first one, recently restored thanks to a fundraising campaign led by the heiress. And also the famous Pen Duick VI, large ketch designed for the first crewed round the world race of 1973, which returned to service with Captain Marie at the helm.

During the year 2019, the “VI”, as the insiders say, had started a world tour with stopovers and distinguished guests to reflect on the future of the planet, under the flag of the Elemen’Terre Project association that it launched in 2017. Cruel irony, the trip of this “Sailing think tank” was stopped by the Covid pandemic, the result of globalization that the Elemen’Terre project is trying to denounce. “Not easy to live with at the time, does she agree, but we are not the type to feel sorry for in the family. It is perhaps a bad for a good, because we were understanding that the connections by plane of our guests were not in phase with our project. “

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A new tack will bring back Pen Duick VI to its glorious past through participation in 2023 in the Golden Globe Race, an old-fashioned round-the-world crewed race. “It’s a great challenge, and in addition we will try to recruit the crew in accordance with our values ​​on the basis of sailor skills but also a project in connection with our association”, explains the one who claims the freedom to jump from one horse to another.

“I never wanted one at the sea and I never left it”

Marie Tabarly put her career as an equine behaviorist on hold five years ago to embark on these adventures. And do not ask him if this return to the sea which took his father from him corresponds to the completion of mourning. “That is a journalist’s vision (and knock), she retorts. I never wanted it at the sea and I never left it. Two weeks after my father died, I was sailing on Pen Duick. I gave up riding because my horse got injured. “

Today the equine spends happy days as a father in the Breton meadows. “He gave me a foal. But when I stopped riding, I wanted to sail and I felt that my boat (Pen Duick VI) wanted to too. I’m 37 years old, no kid, at some point you have to go, we only have one life ”, underlines this pure Breton woman despite her mother’s half-Martinican ancestry.

“I like the cold, the rain, the wind, but I also have the hot blood of the fire of rum”, says the one who claims the right to live from her passion, even if it means facing skepticism vis-à-vis the multiple projects combining the veil of pleasure and the environment. “All are useful, and you spend more time on land behind your computer or phone, to get money, pay the crews, run the shop, than with your nose in the wind breathing the sea air. So yes, we live off what we love but it’s not alwayseasy days. “

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Her inspiration – Florence Arthaud

Among her models, there is her father Eric Tabarly, of course, on whom she spends as little as possible, but many others whose wake she admires. All have in common to have defended the two most precious goods according to her: the happiness of fulfilling her dreams and freedom. In the world of sailing, two personalities float: Olivier de Kersauson, with whom she has sailed quite a bit, and “the magnificent” Florence Arthaud, winner of the 1990 Route du Rhum who died in 2015 in a helicopter accident.

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