Sunday, April 6, 2014


I am afraid not to be able to tell this story as it deserves to be told. It is the story of Tara Tari, Capucine and Corentin and it is a beautiful and sad story. I can only compare it in its beauty and simplicity with the Petit Prince by Saint Exupery. He said “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart” and that’s the case with this unfinished tale. While the Petit Prince lived in a book and in the soul of the men that did not kill the child that once they were, Capucine Trochet is a true princess and she lives on the sea, aboard Tara Tari.

It’s difficult to know how to begin because in her short life Capucine has already lived much more than me, that am old and lived well. She is French, from Brittany, but was raised in Barcelona where she lived between 9 and 18 years of age. At 23 she travelled in Chile to know the Andes range and its people. She stayed there for two years, walked 4000km till the Magellan Strait and there, looking at the sea she felt that her life would only make sense in a boat. Not a big boat, a solo boat and she start dreaming of mini racers and the mini Transat.
Returned to France, worked to buy a mini racer (Pogo 2), lived aboard and trained every day for the next Transat. That was back in 2009 and just some weeks before the big race she had problems with a leg and, what seemed to be a small problem, was terribly worse. She had a rare disease that affects the ligaments. The first of a long series of surgeries and long hospitals visits takes place. Her mobility is gravelly affected. In 2010 she is a bit better and will make her first and only mini race with Amaury, the Mini Empuries, a 300Nm course. She writes much better than me (she is a journalist) and wrote a very nice article about that:

But after the great happiness of her first race (8th) the saddest news awaited her: She learned from her surgeon that the other leg was worse and that with time she would be paralyzed. Shocked with the news she understood that her dreams of solo racing would never become more than a dream and that she would never race her boat, that had been on the hard, for more than a year, waiting her to get better. 

Meanwile, on the other side of the world, another fantastic story happened with Corentin and Tara Tari, a magic boat.
In Bangladesh, one of the greatest XXI century Naval Architect, Marc Van Peteghem tries to help the local populations, on an humanitarian mission working with the Friendship ONG.

Van Peteghem founds “Watever” with Yves Marre to search techniques and materials to build better and less expensive traditional boats. He develops an inexpensive way to build in a much stronger way the traditional boats used by the fishermen, using the local jute (vegetable tissue), fiberglass and resins polyester. Corentin de Chatelperron, a French engineer, using those techniques and a design by Marc Van Peteghem based on local boats and improving them, builds Tara Tari (2009) on the Shipyard of the same name, founded by Yves Marre. 
In 2010, to give visibility to the project, Corentin sails successfully the traditional boat from Koakata (Bangladesh) to La Ciotat (France), through the Suez Channel. He makes the 9 000Nm in 186 days.

After that, with the funds and supports he raised, he returns to Bangladesh to continue the technological search to build a less expensive and ecological boat using only a composite of Jute (the Tara Tari was made with 40% Jute and 60% fiberglass) and manages to build "Gold of Bengal", a Sampan made only with Jute composite. He is now testing the materials and the boat on an extensive cruise on the Indian Ocean.
Fair winds to him.

Let’s get back to 2010 and Capucine to see how those two stories cross and become interconnected.

Capucine works as Journalist specialized in sailing and she made the coverage of the voyage of Corentin and Tara Tari for Yahoo sports ( a very good read) :

Capucine met Corentin at the 2010 Paris Boatshow. Corentin was there with Tara Tari trying to raise funds for continuing the search for a traditional Jute boat and a nice complicity was born between the two: Corentin wanted to get back to Bangladesh to build a new traditional jute sailboat and did not know what to do with Tara Tari. Capucine, with a broken heart, her dreams to be a solo racer shattered, had the crazy idea of proposing him to let her cross the Atlantic on Tara Tari. Corentin liked the idea immediately.

But Tara Tari needed a lot of work and after her 9th surgery she was in a really bad shape, on a wheel chair, and nobody believed that she would be able to put Tara Tari again in conditions for an Atlantic crossing. After its long voyage from India the boat needed a deep restoration.

I will ask Capucine to tell this part of the story because I cannot really transmit the emotions her words can (from an interview in Voile et Voiliers):

“After this 9th operation in January with a long convalescence in Kerpape hospital I was not going well. I looked at the picture of my Pogo, but it was too frustrating to stay in bed while my sailing buddies sailed away. When I left rehabilitation, I started repairing Tara Tari ... under morphine for the pain!! I had a crush with that sailboat, I really wanted to restore it. It was dirty, rusty, it was necessary to take everything away, remove the mast, the lateral boards that weighed 200 kilos, the floor panels, the water tanks in bad shape, strip all the boat to make repairs in some places. 

At first I scratched the hull for 15 minutes and I had to stop because I could not use the grinder longer. I finally managed a way to pull myself inside the boat, but on the way down, I cracked the coccyx - I did not say anything because I did not want to go to the hospital again. Nobody understood, people saw my condition, the boat, and they thought: " That’s not going to be possible".

And then one day, by not stopping to crawl around to work (as I could) on my little “shipyard”, I realized that I was reeducating myself alone, I had less trouble in doing things my way. Doctors thought that all this work out of the hospital had been beneficial to me.
 I could not wait to put the boat in the water, I even worked at night with the headlights of the car. The hull was in good condition, the structure was sound …I added weight in the bottom for better stability. I worked all the summer. ……….”

She received a lot of help from the solo sailing community, the one that she once dreamed to belong to; many solo racers helped her with material and gifts as well as several sailing companies and the shipyard. In the end Tara Tari was as good as new.
 In October 2011 it was put on the water in L’Orient and extensively tested with Corentin. All seemed well and the boat was taken to Ciotat, on the Mediterranean, the place where Tara Tari had made port, coming from India.
From there, in November, she started her voyage, most of the time solo, sometimes with Maxime, a friend.
 She says that the voyage on the Med (in the winter) was a lot worse than the Atlantic crossing. There was a problem in the boat and it made a lot of water (in 10minutes 20cm of water). She had to solo sail it in one of the world’s zones with more boat traffic at the same time she bailed it out trying to find in between some minutes to sleep. Finally the boat was repaired in Gibraltar. The Spanish Fishermen gave her a lot of support and help. They were incredulous to find a little girl on a little boat out on the sea in winter time.

Capucine made it to the Canary Islands without problems, arriving in May 2012 and waited there for the end of the Cyclone season to make sail again, this time to Cabo Verde. Maxime joined her for the passage. They had a rough time, with big waves and 45k winds. The passage took 11 days, 9 of them very difficult, without any sail up, doing 5K and being knocked down lots of times. The leg from Cabo Verde to Martinique was a lot better. They sailed out with 30k wind and they took 25 days to arrive. Not a bad time for such a little boat. 

She left the boat in Martinique and crewed a sailboat back to France, to be seen by their doctors and to see her family. She stayed not for long. Capucine is back Martinique repairing again Tara Tari before going for a 5 month cruise on the Caribbean sea and to make a visit to Miami.

From there she has plans to make a Trans Pacific voyage, to India, to bring the boat back home but for that she needs to see how the boat ages. After all it is an experimental boat made with jute and there is just no information about the boat resistance or durability.

If you are on that side of the pond please say hello for me to Capucine, a great sailor and a greater human being. She started her active life as a teenager (17 years of age) building a school in Burkina Faso, on a project managed by her, after having raised (with the help of her parents) 75000 euros; She walked alone some of the most inhospitable mountains on earth; She learned how to solo sail and race mini class racers and after being diagnosed a disease that should left her paralyzed and robbed her the future she had dreamed of, she fought destiny and crossed the Atlantic in a sailboat I would not dare crossing the Med and plans to keep on sailing it while she can, while she can defeat her fate.

Capucine says she had learned with the best, referring to solo ocean racers, well, I know the best are deeply impressed with her and those men and women are not easily impressed. To say that I am impressed with her is an understatement. I think she is greater than life and his life is a lesson to all of us. This is my modest homage to her, the bigger post I want ever to make on this blog. I hope it helps making her more known out of France, particularly on the US where she is going to give some lectures to raise funds to continue his voyage. 
Chapeau to her, a big one :-)


  1. Thanks for taking the time to post this story in its entirety, Paulo. I found it deeply moving and inspiring, even as it forced me - if only for a moment - to reflect on the choices and compromises I've made in life, which have led me away from my own dreams. It's important to be reminded of such things from time to time. I am particularly struck by how, despite all the obstacles, neither Corentin nor Capucine lost their spirit of idealism and wanting to help other people, and, in doing so, enrich their own lives in ways having nothing to do with money. One of the reasons I have embraced your Interesting Sailboats forum thread and blog is because they have helped me keep my own sailing dreams alive, particularly during difficult times when it is hard to imagine ever realizing them. Much appreciated, I can assure you. MrP

  2. Fantastic story and write-up. Much appreciated. I've seen a few pictures of her voyage on the internet. I would like to hear about any lectures in the US!

  3. I have with some admiration followed Capuchine's adventures with TaraTari , to now understand the true depth of her heroic and stoic success against not only the sea ,but her unmentioned personal pain and dissability is truely humbling. I wish to pass to Capochine my deep respect and admiration, and to Corentin also for his humain endeavours. A rising tide may lift all boats but only those souls who have the spirit can stem the ebb against all forccasts. You encourage many to set sail against the prevailing headwinds of nature and human endeavour.Bravo.

  4. @Saltyone :#quote#A rising tide may lift all boats but only those souls who have the spirit can stem the ebb against all forccasts.#unquote# That's so beautifully said ..... Nelly

  5. Inspiring story. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this. Capucine shows that we are capable of so much, if we combine determination and desire.