Boats from around the world take centre stage

Tall ships

When around twenty tall ships (four-masted and three masted barques, three-masted schooners, brigs, etc.) from around the world come together in one place, the sight is sure to take your breath away.

Some first set sail at the beginning of the 20th century, others are more recent, but all will give you chills. 



Historical replicas

They tell a tale of long ago and illustrious ancestors, rebuilt by highly skilled shipwrights and joiners. The first time the Recouvrance set sail was during the festival’s first edition in 1992.

This topsail schooner is a replica of a dispatch boat from the early 19th century. It was built by Guip Shipyard for the Bateaux des côtes de France contest launched by the Chasse-Marée magazine and is now the pride of Brest.

The festival’s 2016 edition will also give visitors a chance to discover Saint-Malo’s floating ambassador, the Renard, a replica of a topsail cutter armed in 1812 by the famous Surcouf that was rebuilt in 1991. 


Fishing boats and work boats

Fishing boats and freighters have played a key role in the development of civilisations. Their shapes vary as much as their uses and sailing areas.

In Brest, visitors will be able to see a wide range of these tireless floating workers: gunter-rigged sloops, fore-and-aft rigged ketches and cutters, yawls…

Their names differ from place to place and all have their own specificities: sinagots in the Gulf of Morbihan, booters in the Netherlands, hookers along the Irish coast, trawlers in the South of England, barquettes in the Mediterranean Sea, pinasses in Arcachon and coquilliers in the roadstead of Brest.


Honour, Motherland, Merit and Discipline


These four words are enough to define the French Navy’s vessels. For the festival’s 2016 edition, the Navy will open part of its dockyard to visitors and will play a key part in the festivities with several of its units: two schooners (the Belle Poule and the Étoile), one cutter (the Mutin) and a yawl (the Grande Hermine).


Small boats everywhere

From traditional to classic pleasure boats and from powerboats to sail-and-oar boats,

Brest’s maritime festival also owes its success to its widely diverse fleet of small boats and their huge fan club: small fore-and-aft rigged sloops, luggers, dinghies, Fife and Mylne yachts, runabouts and cabin-cruisers, Bantry bay gigs and traditional gigs, whaleboats, dories, etc.



The Recouvrance is an exact replica of a topsail schooner and is Brest’s property and floating ambassador. It was built in 1990 and set sail for the first time during the 1992 edition of Brest’s maritime festival.


  • Length overall: 41.60 m
  • Sail area: 430 m2 (9 sails)
  • Crew: 5 sailors + 30 trainees
  • Home port: Brest.


THE Swaensborgh (the Netherlands)

The Swaensborgh is a steel-hulled topsail schooner that was built in Germany in 1907. This three-master first set sail as the Anna and operated for several years as a freighter in the North Sea. After changing owners in 1988, the Swaensborgh was refurbished to hold cabins and is now a 32-passenger ocean cruising sailboat.


  • Length overall: 47 m
  • Sail area: 535 m2
  • Home port: Monnickendam





THE Bessie Ellen (United Kingdom) 

The Bessie Ellen first set sail in 1907. It is an old British ketch that was built at Plymouth’s shipyard. It is one of the last trading ketches that still sail the sea and has been declared a historic vessel by the National Historic Ships UK. This charter sailboat is currently used both for cruises and as a sustainable transport freighter.

  • Length overall: 36 m
  • Sail area: 330 m2 (8 sails)
  • Home port: Plymouth



The Belle Poule, France

The Belle Poule, one of the French Navy’s sail training ships, is a topsail schooner and has a sister ship, the Étoile. It was built in 1932 in Fécamp and is a replica of Paimpol’s cod fishing schooners. A member of the Free French Naval Forces during World War II, it flies a jack that bears the Cross of Lorraine.

  • - Length overall: 37.50 m
  • - Sail area: 424 m2 (12 sails)
  • - Crew: 1 officer, 5 non-commissioned officers (officiers mariniers), 10 quartermasters and seamen
  • - Home port: Brest



This ketch has a steel hull and deck and was built in 1915 in a Dutch shipyard for use as a herring boat in the North Sea. It first set sail as the Pallas and was turned into a day sailer and a cruising sailboat in 2001.

  • Length overall: 36 m
  • Sail area: 500 m2 (7 sails)
  • Home port: Rotterdam.