Transatlantic in a Tacking Outrigger

Many of you have probably heard of this tale before, but for those of you who haven’t: back in 2003 Emmanuel and Maximilien Berque crossed the Atlantic in a 6.5m tacking outrigger. They carried no instruments, no clock, and battled headwinds, strong wind, and cloudy weather which hampered their ability to navigate by the stars. There’s a short trailer of it here:

The full ~1 hour documentation (with English subtitles) can be found on Dailymotion here. When you watch that, you begin to appreciate just how miserable the two were during the course of that voyage, especially with there being no escape from the saltwater and dampness in the boat. Not knowing where they are and how far they had left to go (on account of cloudy weather blocking the stars), also depressed their morale significantly. With an undertaking like this, it’s hard to say how much it comes down to the design and sailing skill on one hand, and just pure luck on the other. There’s some info on the boat on the Berque brother’s website, the overall stats are:

Final characteristics of Micromegas 3
– Main hull : 6m 50 x 0m 80
– Second hull: 5m 50 x 0m 35
– Total width : 3m 60
– Empty weight : 300 kg
– Rigging : Schooner lug
– Sail Surface : 21 m2

Despite the risk, hardships, and misery, they did make it across to tell the tale. Perhaps tacking outriggers (tacking proas) haven’t been getting the attention and the credit they deserve when it comes to simple low-cost multihulls, and when it comes to knots-per-dollar. After all, a proa and a tacker weigh and cost about the same!

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