People and boats: Eric Tabarley and Rep Duick.

People and boats: Eric Tabarley and Rep Duick.

The touching story of the French yachting» «father's attachment to his first boat, of which he was the thirteenth owner at the age of 20.
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As a real man, he had a strong passion all his life and at the same time knew how to keep loyalty. Passion - for the sea and sailing, and loyalty - to his first boat. No matter what yacht he later raised his sails on, it was always called the same - Rep Duick...

First love.

«Come on, please, Dad, don't sell our Birdie!» - There were tears in the eyes of a 16-year-old boy.

Monsieur Guy Tabarli was at a loss: it was 1947 and after the war the business of the textile company of which he was the representative in the north of France was very unimportant, so the family could no longer afford to maintain a nearly 50 foot tender.

In addition, during the years France was occupied, the boat stayed virtually unattended in the muddy sunken Loire. However, maybe this is what saved her from requisition, especially since the old sailor who was looking after her managed to convince the Germans that the keel at the tender is cast iron, and the deck is flowing like a sieve.

And now, two years later, the fate of the ship on which little Eric first went to sea at the age of seven was decided. Before that, the Tabarli family (parents and two children) sailed on a 15ft yacht called Appie, Eric's little sister's namesake. But when in 1938 the elder Tabarli managed to buy a cheap 40-year-old boat of large size, it became a real holiday for his son.

Built back in 1898 by renowned shipbuilder William Fife Jr., the sailboat was an 11-ton gaffer tender (cutter) designed specifically for Irish yachtsman Wu. Under his first name, Yum (Yummy«),»he won many British Royal Yacht Club races and most often came in second. Over the following years, after 11(!) owners and 7 names, the Rep Duick («Black Tits») found himself in a quiet corner of Brittany, where he seemed destined to end his days as a boat for leisurely family walks.

Year of construction:
1898Construction: William Fife & Son Shipyard,
New York.
Fairley, ScotlandType of sailing
arms: taffeta tender (cutter)
Length largest: 15.1 mLength


waterline: 10.05 mSailing width


2.93 m







160 m²

Already famous, Eric Marcel Guy Tabarley will compare this boat with his first love (and at first sight) and admits that there has always been an unexplained connection between them. But that will be later, and now...

«Dad, you could have saved money if you'd stopped paying for my studies and sent the money to Rep Duick to repair it,»" shyly suggested Eric (who was very disliked by the school), but lightning sparkled in his father's eyes and the young man hurried to silence.

His eldest son Monsieur Tabarli saw in his soul a brilliant naval officer and was ready to sacrifice even his family sailboat for this.

Potential buyers were there from time to time, but while his father painted them with the excellent seaworthiness of the tender and its ease of management, his heir (as if by chance) was paying attention to the decrepitude of the upper deck and the imminent cost of the imminent repair. The intra-family struggle for the Rep Duick lasted for five years, and finally Tabarli Sr. gave up: in 1952, Eric, who had reached the age of majority, became the thirteenth (!) owner of the boat, solemnly promising his father to do everything that she could again go out to sea.

In his memoirs, he later commented on the event rather discreetly: «So at twenty-something I became captain of the wreck».

«Sinichka's second life.

However, it took Eric a long time to get to the actual fulfillment of his promise. Instead of a naval school, he was waiting to be drafted. Only yielding to the insistent requests of the future defender of colonial interests in France, he was sent to the flight school, after which he became a pilot of naval aviation.

The young sergeant (to the first officer's rank is still oh, how far away!) finally began to receive a salary, most of which he was saving at the bank to rebuild his Boat. In his own words, he was not afraid to appear «stingy» to his merry comrades. Moreover, after almost a year of service in «hot» Morocco, he himself asked for even more risky service in Indochina, where France was just losing the battle for Vietnam, but the military paid double salaries.

Eric was lucky - his bomber was never shot down, and in July 1954, a truce was signed, after which the young pilot was transferred to a squadron of light aircraft communications. However, instead of wasting his free time (and money!) in the exotic Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City's future) entertainment facilities, he continued to postpone almost all of his paychecks to his «Binichka», and he persistently tried to restore the gaps in school education, preparing to enter the Higher Naval School after all.

In May 1956, and this dream finally came true, and a year and a half later Eric received his first officer title and appointment to the naval base Lorian, near which he was faithfully awaited by Rep Duick. All that remained was to roll up his sleeves and get down to business!

As you can understand, combining service on a warship with the restoration of the old boat is not easy, but the 22-year-old junior lieutenant managed to do it too. Continuing to put off every extra centime, he spent all his free time at the shipyard. «The bruise» had to actually be rebuilt. Together with the hull made of polyester fiber (the biggest for those times), the boat found an optimized sailing weapon, which is more comfortable to handle a reduced crew. In the spring of 1959, the Rep Duick went out to sea again and demonstrated its outstanding sailing characteristics.

In the same year, on his newly restored boat Tabarli took part in the Rolex Fastnet race from England to Ireland. The Rep Duick did a great job on the 600-mile circuit, most of which was out of sight of the coast, but only came in 14th. It would seem that the promise given to my father was fulfilled and the goal of life was reached, but... Eric Tabarley himself thought differently - he was eager to compete in a single race across the North Atlantic.

The triumph of the Rep Duick II

Alas, by the start of the first of them - OSTAR 1960 - Tabarli was late because he was too busy with his «Birthday». However, the fact that the race will be held, it became known only by the end of 1959, so that for the first time to conquer the Plymouth - New York track came out only five participants, and all - the famous sailing athletes.

To the understandable satisfaction of the sponsors (British Royal Yacht Club and the influential weekly magazine Obserwer) the top three places were taken by English yachtsmen: Francis Chichester on Gipsy Moth III (42 days), Herbert Hasler on Jester (48) and David Lewis on Cardinal Vertue (55). Another Englishman, Val Howells on Eira, was the fourth to complete the race for 63 days. France's only representative, Jean Lacombe on Cap Horn, finished last for 72 days.

It is possible that such an unenviable result of a countryman in his own way influenced the decision of Tabarli to take part in the next OSTAR competitions, scheduled for 1964, and at the same time to win! But to challenge the famous British yachtsmen in their own invented race, they needed another boat - the family owned Rep Duick was heavy for such a company, and sailing (especially in multi-day sailing) remained too difficult for one person to manage.

Said it was done! Continuing his naval service (now in command of a landing boat), Eric began designing a sailboat that would necessarily lead him to victory. Having analyzed all his previous sailing experience on the old Rep Duick, as well as the successes and failures of the first OSTAR, Tabarli chose a relatively small boat with reduced sail area, but as light and comfortable as possible.

This is how the Rep Duick II, a 45-foot ketch with a wooden hull, came into being.

Year of construction: 1964Most
construction: Costantini Shipyard, La Trinité, FranceSailing
: Bermuda ketchLength


largest: 13.6 mLength


waterline: 10 m






6.5 tSail area:
60 m²


According to Gilles Costantini (designer and owner of the shipyard on which the Rep Duick II was built), preparing «»for just a transatlantic race, Eric had already dreamt of sailing solo around the world. Even the faintest winds from the critical course corners were the basis for his dreams of sailing alone around the world. The experience of Joshua Slocum, who had already added a second mast to his «Spray» on the way, converted it from a classic gaffed sloop to an yoke, was certainly taken into account.

By the way, Tabarli's new «Sinichka» was half as light as Sir Francis Chichester's famous Gipsy Moth III, a recognized OSTAR favourite, whose repeat victory in this race was predicted by most yachting experts, but...

In May 1964, the transatlantic race started with 15 competitors - 11 Brits, two French and one each from Australia and Denmark. Against the background of famous rivals Tabarli looked like a formidable amateur, but it was he who finished first, having overcome the highway Portsmouth - Newport in just 27 days, 3 hours and 56 minutes. Gipsy Moth III was almost three days behind Rep Duick II, and Marco Polo, the last Danish to arrive, Axel Penderson, was more than a month behind!

The British monopoly on sailing records has finally been broken.

a 32-year-old fleet lieutenant instantly became the national hero of France, and his name became world famous. Eric became a Knight of the Legion of Honour, receiving the coveted cross from the hands of General de Gaulle himself, and the Cruising Club of America (CCA) awarded him the honorary Blue Water Medal - the Open Sea Medal.

However, the hero himself did not seem quite satisfied with his new boat. In 1965 he converted it into a schooner with split sailing arms.

The Duick II Rep found a gaffle between the masts and a new set of sails. On the one hand, this scheme made it a little easier to control the sails alone and allowed to squeeze out the maximum of even the weakest wind. On the other hand, it increased the load on the top of the masts and increased the risk of sails falling in the wind.

Obviously, the compromise reached was not very successful, and the improvement of the boat continued. A year later, Tabarli decided to shorten the hull a bit to bring his second «Bird»'s-eye into line with the standards of the Cruising Club of America. However, in the 635-mile race Newport - Bermuda 1966 Eric managed to take only the 5th place, and from the track of Bermuda - Copenhagen he had to get off due to malfunction of the steering device. It seems that even in a modernized form Rep Duick II has exhausted its winning potential, and knowing the nature of the Tabarli could not be doubted that he had already conceived a new boat.

«Buckles»: three to six.

1967. The pride of France - Lieutenant Captain Tabarli - is officially seconded to the Ministry of Youth and Sport. The Rep Duick II has been sold to a sailing school in Ciberon, but the Rep Duick III schooner is being completed at La Perret shipyard, the design of which has been entirely developed by Eric himself.

Year of construction:
1967Sails: La Perriere, Loriene, FranceSails
: two-masted schoonerLength


largest: 14.45 mLength


waterline: 13




2.75 m


7 tSail area:
152 m²

In this boat Tabarli has invested all the experience gained not only in past voyages, but also during his service in maritime aviation. Ideal aerodynamics, two masts of equal height (like two wings), a hull made of aluminum (extra strength with significant weight reduction!) and a spherical Plexiglas dome above the cockpit (like in the cockpit) for better horizon view in severe storm conditions.

Another distinguishing feature of the Rep Duick III is the bow contours copied from the clippers and the more than doubled sail area (compared to its predecessor). At the same time, their control was maximally optimized for one person. As for the interior, along with the standard set of equipment, the boat has an improved navigation table (in cardan suspension) and a special «saddle» at the galley stove, sitting on which it is convenient to cook even when rocking.

Only in its first year of life did the third «Sinichka» consistently bring its creator three loud victories: in the race across the English Channel, around the Swedish island of Gotland and from Sydney, Australia, to the port of Hobart (Tasmania). In total, Tabarli's firm-handed Rep Duick III finished first in seven (!) major regattas.

1968. The start of another OSTAR transatlantic single race was approaching and the absolute champion of 1964 was determined to improve his own record significantly. For this he prepared a surprise for his rivals: instead of the traditional keel yacht Tabarli was the first in the world to take part in the ocean competition on a multihull vessel - the Rep Duick IV trimaran.

Year of construction:
1968Sailing: La Perriere, Lorraine, FranceSailing
: Bermuda QuechLength


largest: 20.8 mLength


waterline: 19.5 mShirina:
10.7 m


floats/hull: 0.8/2.4 m


107 m²

This time the bet was made on speed unattainable for single-hull sailboats and (again!) the most advanced technology. Thus, the main hull and side floats were made of special aluminum alloy (dural) and connected by steel frame, and masts (also for the first time in the history of shipbuilding) were made of rotating, which should have made it easier to control the sails with sharp changes in wind direction and speed. The non-floodability was ensured by means of special foam, which was used to fill the float ends (Rep Duick IV did not have the usual air» cushions today«).

The construction of the boat was completed only two weeks before the competition. It was not even properly painted (for which it was nicknamed «Aluminum Octopus»). To try out the possibilities of her original brainchild really Tabarli had already been directly on the race track.

From the start, the trimaran abruptly took off, showing simply fabulous speed - over 20 knots! However, the ocean on the crossing route was not deserted enough: on the third day of such a flight on the waves of Rep Duick IV collided with a cargo ship and Eric is forced to abandon further participation in the race.

1969. «The aluminum octopus won the Transpac race with» confidence, going from Los Angeles to Honolulu in just 8 days and 13 hours. Disappointment had already caught up with his owner at the finish: it turned out that race rules did not allow the participation of multihull vessels...

A year later, Tabarley sold his «unlucky» trimaran to his colleague Alain Cole, who... won an OSTAR 1972 on it! And six years later, Rep Duick IV (renamed Manureva) and his new owner went missing in the Atlantic Ocean during the race Route du Rhum...

Failure at OSTAR and «the unofficiality of the» record at Transpac did not discourage Eric Tabarli - for the French sailing legend was built a new boat, on which he was going to participate in a single race on the Pacific Ocean, from San Francisco to Tokyo. This boat was the Rep Duick V, a classic keel yacht for transoceanic sailing.

Year of construction:
1969Sailing: La Perriere, Lorraine, FranceSailing
: Bermuda sloopLength:
10.67 mLength


waterline: 9.15 m



: 3.5


2.3 m

Sheduling: 3.

2 tSail area:
63 m²


The hull of this relatively small boat is again made of dural, and among the already traditional surprises «from Tabarli» are the gliding rings, ballast keels (with adjustable filling) and a set of three spherical spinnakers, with areas of 60, 88 and 120 m2.

This time the special construction of the yacht has fully paid off: 5200 miles from the West Coast of the USA to the capital of Japan, she managed to overcome in 39 days and 15 hours, ahead of her closest rival by more than 11 days! After another record was set in the history of transoceanic racing, the San Rafael Rep Duick V was put up for sale by a sponsor and Eric Tabarli returned to active naval service - now as a Physical Education and Sports Inspector.

In the next two years he participated (and won!) in numerous sailing competitions, but all this was just preparation for new records - the course was taken to win the first (round the world!) race Whitbread.

The new boat, specially designed to guarantee the inevitable (seemingly) success in this venture, reached a record size and was quite expected to be named Rep Duick VI. The steel hull, depleted uranium keel ballast and huge sail area are the trumps that Tabarli decided to use this time.

Year of construction:
1973Sailing: L'Arsenal, Brest, FranceSailing
: Bermuda ketchLength


largest: 22.25 mLength


waterline: 18.8 mShirina:





33 tonsSail area:
260 m²


On September 8, 1973, 19 different boats were launched from the port of Plymouth. The Duick VI Rep showed the most encouraging results at the start of the race and even became the undisputed leader in its second stage, from Cape Good Hope to Sydney, Australia. However, further happiness changed the sixth «Sinichka»: the masts could not withstand the tension because of the increased area of sails. After the second consecutive mast breakdown, Eric decided not to participate in the race anymore. By the way, his previous boat Rep Duick III (with the new owner, Michel Ziklinski) also took part in these competitions, but due to the damage and she has to withdraw from the race.

But the next three years gave the Rep Duick VI the opportunity to rehabilitate itself: In 1974, she came first in the Bermuda-UK race, and in 1975 won first place in the Triangle Atlantique, culminating in another OSTAR 1976 transatlantic race, in which Tabarli won, driving alone a 33-ton giant designed for a team of 10-12 people.

The fateful number is 13.

In 1988. Eric Tabarli resigned from active service with the rank of Captain 2, but continued to participate in the races. He now focused all his attention on his very first «Siniccia»: in the summer of 1989, the 90-year-old family sloop was once again rejuvenated at the Italian shipyard Cantieri Beconcini (Spice). He received a new deck in Oregon pine and a set of sails in high-tech modern materials.

In the summer of 1998, celebrating the centenary of the founder of the glorious Rep Duick flock, Eric Tabarli and his four-man crew went to Scotland to take part in another race. On the night of June 13, under unclear circumstances, he fell overboard at a turn, presumably stunned by a geek's blow.

For some reason there was no life jacket on the experienced captain, and his crew failed to provide him with effective assistance. Two days later, Eric Tabarley's body was accidentally found by fishermen. The 13th owner of Rep Duick tragically died before his 67th birthday, but...

In spring 2018, Pen Duick VI raised his sails again.

Eric's daughter Marie Tabarley, with her friends, set out on a round-the-world voyage that is scheduled to last until 2022. Every two weeks the two crew members will be replaced by new ones - yachtsmen, musicians, artists, actors and other interesting people.

The sailing organizers are not going to set new records at all. Their goal is simply to discover the beauty of the Earth and the Ocean for all those who love sailing. And this is the best monument to Eric Tabarley...

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