People & Boats: Vive Le Muscadet - Sail Magazine

People & Boats: Vive Le Muscadet

Legendary cruising boats come in all forms. Wandering the docks at a boat show in La Rochelle, France, I came across an unassuming, boxy little boat that has achieved iconic status among the French.
Author:
Publish date:
A go-anywhere 24-footer

A go-anywhere 24-footer

Legendary cruising boats come in all forms. Wandering the docks at a boat show in La Rochelle, France, I came across an unassuming, boxy little boat that has achieved iconic status among the French. Excelling as an ocean racer, bluewater cruiser and as a family coastal cruiser, Philippe Harle’s 24ft Muscadet truly was a boat for all reasons.

Conceived as a cheap ocean racer and constructed in plywood to a hard-chine design that was strong and cheap to build, the Muscadet was an instant hit upon its launch in 1963. Not only was it affordable, it was amazingly seaworthy for its size and quickly proved capable of giant-killing performances.

Soon this tough little boat could be seen not only in anchorages all around the French coast, but as far afield as the Baltic, Ireland and the north of England, often sailed there by intrepid young French singlehanders—forerunners of the current crop of Gallic sailing stars.

The Muscadet is a classic favorite for those who sail it

The Muscadet is a classic favorite for those who sail it

In the 1970s, Muscadets formed a significant part of the inaugural Mini Transat race from Penzance, Cornwall to Antigua; five finished, two in the top 10. Muscadets were sailed in every edition of the race until 1991. But it’s the Muscadet’s influence on cruising that lingers; I recall seeing these little boats in various anchorages around the Caribbean, and they are still much in demand in France. More than 1,000 of them were built, and many of those are still afloat, well maintained and much loved.

The Muscadet was one of many small plywood cruisers of the 1950s and 60s that helped bring sailing to the masses, most of them lost to the reefs of time. On this side of the Pond, the 26ft Thunderbird was perhaps the closest equivalent; like the Muscadet, it inspired a devoted following and endures to this day as an inexpensive, undemanding boat whose appeal is undimmed by the passage of time.

Related

USCGReadyForRescue_Identifier_FullColor

USCG Ready for Rescue Challenge

The U.S. Coast Guard is now collaborating with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on something it calls the “Ready for Rescue,” a $255,000 prize competition that is looking for ways that will make it easier to locate people, MOB victims in particular, in the water.The ...read more

04-CLR1718md1085-jpg

A Historic Win for Wendy Tuck

This past summer Australian sailor, Wendy Tuck (inset), became the first woman to win a round-the-world yacht race when she and her crew aboard Sanya Serenity Coast claimed the overall victory in the 2017-18 Clipper Race. “I am just so happy,” Tuck said at the finish in ...read more

daviscards

Davis Instruments: Quick Reference Cards

CHECK THESEIf you’re sailing with new crew this summer or your kids have suddenly and inexplicably started to look up from their phones and take an interest in the finer points of cruising, these Quick Reference Cards from Davis are a great way to further their boating education. ...read more

01-rbir18-596

Another Epic Round Britain Race

There are basically two kinds of offshore sailboat races out there: those that take place annually, like the Fastnet and Chicago-to-Mackinac races; and those that take place every other year, like the Transpac and Newport-Bermuda race, in part so the competitors have sufficient ...read more

01b_WALKING-KEDGE-OUT-cmykpromo

Getting More Use From Kedge Anchors

If you are cruising, you need at least two anchors on board for the simple reason that you must have a backup. Imagine having to slip your anchor on a stormy night with other boats dragging down on yours, or having your rope rode severed by some unseen underwater obstacle, ...read more

SailAwayCharter

How-to: Navigating on a Bareboat Charter

So you graduated from navigation class where you practiced dead reckoning, doubling the angle on the bow and maybe even celestial nav, and you now feel well prepared for your first charter trip. Well, you won’t be doing any of that on vacation—not past the first day, anyway.Most ...read more

04-Turtle-rescue

Turtle Rescue in the Vic-Maui

Strange and often wonderful things can happen in the course of an offshore sailboat race, and one of the strangest and most wonderful things we’ve heard of recently took place during the 2,300-mile 2018 Vic-Maui race, from Victoria, British Columbia, to Lahaina, Hawaii.It ...read more