Eliboubane – The Breton Coast Sardinier

by editor

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Below – excerpts and drawings from The Apprentice, No.3, Spring of 1989 “Eliboubane de Breton” Text by Lance Lee, drawings by Yvon Le Corre, edited by Arista Holden

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If there is any vessel we know which rest at the crossroads of many routes or currents—the past and the future, the realm of folk art and of utility, pure regional tradition and the design evolution distilled from one man’s cruising familiarity with working and contemporary sailing vessels all around the Atlantic, that vessel is Eliboubane. 

Her master, owner and envisioner, Yvon Le Corre, is rooted in the maritime strength of Brittany with its coast and weather demands—beauty and danger combined. His instincts and owner of Iris—a classic, British Colchester smack or cutter— earlier led him to the Mediterranean, the Cape Verde Islands, Brazil and Scotland. Romance and an artistic credo as disciplined as it is fresh and bold have resulted in some compelling contemporary art and documentation.

That art lies in two forms—Eliboubane herself and Yvon Le Corre’s reflection and interpretive drawings of her. In 1981 a chance left hand turn at a river fork led a pair of us alongside the Eliboubane and to an encounter from which we continue to feed.

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She is striking from any angle. A tall lug rig, rich, wine-dark linen sails cut in England by James Lawrence, and natural fiber rigging—comprise a rig considerably modified from the originals which required a large crew. Sculled from the port quarter or managed with a pair of 27′ sweeps, she is an easily driven hull. To date sailed often and hard on the unforgiving coast of Brittany and to Ireland, she has encountered sufficient weather to enable her master to present an excellent series of sail compliments, here keyed to the Beaufort scale. This function alone, considered as a documentary service, could and should be rendered for any umber of small craft in a comparable fashion.

Eliboubane was rigged and built as she was conceived—with an unstinting amount of care and passion. Solid oak construction, double futtock frames and planking, built by Yves Daniel, patron and Pierre Bellac, contremaître, working in close harmony with Yvon in an Old World Yard in Paimpol, Brittany, she is a 1981 sail and sweeps sardine fishing boat. The hull lines are essentially unchanged from those of the 1880s. The kickback stem and extreme draft from a 90 degree angle with a moderate forefoot, saucy quarters and a clean run; together they result in a stiff hull whose handiness belies her initial appearance. The rig has been modified through Yvon’s extensive familiarity with sail and single-handing.

When sailing her in the narrow Jaudy River in France, the wind was like a funnel ahead and the current the same, but she continued to chop up to windward like a seasoned Butcher.

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Yvon Le Corre hanging onto Eliboubane’s windward rail in the foreground.

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Yvon Le Corre spent several months painting Apprenticeshop life in Rockport, Maine in the mid-1980s. He illustrated Bruce Halabisky and Lance Lee’s book Twice Round the Loggerhead about Azorean whaleboats, and wrote and illustrated several of his own books including the illustrious Les Outils De La Passion. We will share more of his wonderful art soon.