sailing yole of Martinique

so Peter from Captain Black’s Sea Chronicles was the 1st one to answer my question what class of sailboat is this? from yesterday.  Chris Stow in the comments also knew the answer.

Tillerman also posted the question on his blog, and his readers were a little quicker with the answer.


both the grommier sailboat and the similar yole sailboat are from the island of Martinique. the gommier sailboat is traditionally carved from the trunk of a gommier tree, sort of like a dugout canoe style.  the yole is similarly shaped, but is usually built out of wood instead of carved from the gommier tree trunk.  both boats have a large rectangular sail.  it looks like the yole is typically steered with a large pole off the aft end of the boat instead of a true rudder.

there is no keel or centerboard, so the sailing crew has to counter the heeling effects of the wind by balancing their bodies outboard of the boat on a series of wooden poles (“les bois”) along the side of the boat.

here is a short video that explains a little bit about the yole and the annual race around the island of Martinique – the Yoles Rondes de Martinique.

the race looks like it is a pretty unique time – with several races around the entire island that begin with a running start off the beach and end with a carnival celebration.  there are some great photos of the racing at Wingsail Images blog.

more information about the yole and the race can be found here and here.


10 Responses to “sailing yole of Martinique”

  1. 1 Pandabonium April 18, 2013 at 2:39 am

    Fascinating. I started with the physical characteristics of the crew and the fact that they were wearing Club Med logo shirts, the color and technology of the boat, and so went searching likely locations of both – which included parts of Africa and the Caribbean. (As I am familiar with boats in Melanesia in the Pacific, I eliminated that area early on). But I still failed to find the answer.

    Those poles are a simple, but effective way to be able to hike out. If a bit scary! Cool picture and excellent puzzle, my2fish.


    • 2 my2fish April 18, 2013 at 5:56 am

      Panda – I totally agree! I googled for quite a while to figure it out, but still had no luck. I decided to post the question because it kept nagging at me! those poles would be an exhilarating ride, that is for sure!


  2. 3 Meech April 18, 2013 at 5:38 am

    This was extremely interesting!


  3. 7 Chris Stow April 19, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I used Google’s “Search by Image” feature to search for images like the one you posted and it found a website selling the image as a poster in the first set of hits. The description of the poster image mentioned Gommier racing on Martinique. From there it was easy to find more information.


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