This yacht has made more famous solo voyages than you can shake a stick at


Another familiar yacht from past days.

This is the red Open 60 yawl that Jean-Luc Van Den Heede had designed for the 1992/3 Vendée Globe, when it was known as Groupe Sofap-Helvim.

The photo below shows the boat from the stern as an illustration of just how narrow Open 60 were at the time, especially at the stern. VDH’s was so particularly slinky it earned the nickname ‘le Cigare Rouge’ – the red cigar.

It was this narrow waterline beam that persuaded VDH it was suitable for an attempt to break the solo non-stop round the world record against the wind in 1999, but after 48 days at sea, when he was in the middle of the Southern Pacific Ocean, he hit an unidentified object and had to turn tail for Chile.
The boat did three more Vendée Globes after VDH’s: in 1996 she was skippered by Catherine Chabaud, in 2000 by Joe Seeten and in 2004 by Karen Leibovici.

The Cigare Rouge also, incidentally, provided Ellen MacArthur’s first experience of sailing an Open 60, when she did a delivery back from the OSTAR with Alan Wynne-Thomas.

And bless me, there was the old cigar in La Rochelle under the name Kappa, enjoying an active retirement. She’s an interesting throw-back to a much more conservative design era, with different views about sailhandling and seakindliness.

But I also posted these photos to show how much more ‘rowaway’ factor she has than modern extreme designs, that ageless elegance that evokes a sudden glow of appreciation as you look back on a yacht at anchor on your row ashore.