THE MAK­ING OF A SAIL­ING ICON

Yachting Monthly - - ADVENTURE -

Built by Al­bert Paumelle, Jolie Brise started life as a Le Havre pi­lot cut­ter and was launched in De­cem­ber 1913, only to be laid up through­out WWI. Peace­time brought three years as a tunny fisher be­fore the fa­mous yachts­man E G Martin, win­ner of the One Ton Cup and twice win­ner of the Royal Cruis­ing Club’s Chal­lenge tro­phy, dis­cov­ered her lan­guish­ing at Con­car­neau near Brest and brought her back to Eng­land. She was con­verted into a cruis­ing yacht at Teign­mouth by her owner and his new skip­per Sid Briggs, with some help from

Martin’s friend Frank

Mor­gan Giles, who ran his yard from that town.

In 1923, the Amer­i­cans had held their sixth 635-mile off­shore Newport to

Ber­muda Race and Martin, who was a yacht­ing jour­nal­ist at the time, was ex­cited by the idea of such a chal­lenge.

With a small group of in­flu­en­tial sail­ing friends, he be­gan to or­gan­ise a sim­i­lar race off the south Bri­tish coast, ig­nor­ing vo­cal op­po­si­tion from more con­ven­tional yachts­men who felt it might be dan­ger­ous (or even un­gentle­manly) to race for days and nights at a time. The first Fast­net race was run in 1925, with Jolie Brise vic­to­ri­ous. Since that mo­ment, she has con­tin­ued to make head­lines across the globe.

In 1926, Martin took her over the At­lantic to take part in the Ber­muda Race, for which she gained the Blue Wa­ter Medal. Then, un­der the new own­er­ship of dash­ing Bobby Som­er­set, she re­turned in 1932 to con­test the race again, only this time she stopped to save the crew of her fel­low com­peti­tor Adri­ana, which had caught fire. A sec­ond Blue Wa­ter Medal fol­lowed. Som­er­set also raced Jolie Brise to two more Fast­net vic­to­ries

– in 1929 and 1930 – a tally of wins that have never yet been matched.

Nowa­days, Jolie Brise is a le­gend. She has won the Tall Ships Races out­right three times and as a modern youth train­ing ship, has few equals.

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