Alain Colas

Sailor, Person or entity appearing in film

1943 – 1978


Who was Alain Colas?

Alain Colas is a French sailor (1943-1978). He was the first sailor to circumnavigate single handedly a multi-hull craft around the world. He disappeared at sea, offshore from the Azores on November 16th 1978, during the first edition of the Route du Rhum race.

Colas appeared destined for a career in higher education as he started teaching at the University of Sydney. However a chance encounter with famous French sailor Eric Tabarly who had just completed the Sydney-Hobart race and offered Colas a passage to New Caledonia aboard Pen Duick III put an immediate end to Alain Colas' scholarly aspirations and turned him to a life of sailing. He financed -in part- this expensive "hobby" by selling photographs and freelance pieces about his travels.

Aboard the trimaran Pen Duick IV which he purchased from Tabarly in 1970, and which he eventually renamed Manureva, Colas makes a name for himself by winning the 1972 OSTAR Transatlantic race (Plymouth - Newport), breaking the record of the race by more than 5 days. In 1973 he embarks for a voyage around the world, loosely following the route of the first edition of the Whitbread race and this makes him the first to successfully circumnavigate solo, in a multi-hull craft. However this accomplishment is somewhat tarnished as some reproach him of stealing the media light from the Whitbread teams, aboard his technically superior yacht, and a second controversy regarding the material used for the keel of Pen Duick VI, Eric Tabarly's new boat entered in the Whitbread are often cited as the reasons for a parting of ways between Eric and Alain who had been friends and often shipmates since 1967.


Alain Colas is also known for designing and promoting the Club Mediterannée ship, a four masts, 236 feet, super modern mono-hull, completed in 1976.

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Sep 16, 1943
Clamecy, Nièvre
  • France
Nov 16, 1978
Archipelago of the Azores

on July 23, 2013


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