What is a
The yole ronde (literally meaning “round skiff” in English) is an iconic Martinican boat that originated in the 1940s.
Unlike other sailing vessels, the yole ronde has no keel or rudder.
To balance the nearly 10-meter long boat, crew members must perch off the hull on long movable wooden poles (known as Bwa dressés).
Not Merely a Boat, A Sailing Masterpiece
Today, the yoles used in competition are true masterpieces maneuvered by semi-professional athletes in a demonstration of strength, agility and coordination that makes an impressive spectacle to watch.
For some, the yole, which was traditionally used for fishing, might seem like a simple sailing boat. But it is really much more than that. Martinicans are deeply attached to this light, fast skiff that has sailed the island’s waters for generations, connecting people with the sea.
Made by hand – most often with an axe using local wood from the trumpet tree – the yole ronde is the epitome of ancestral local savoir-faire both in its manufacture and in its handling.
Since December 17, 2020, Martinique’s yole has been officially listed in UNESCO’s Register of Good Practices for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage. This recognition rewards the efforts of the yole’s many enthusiasts and gives international exposure to the tradition.
All hands on
The one question on everyone’s lips was who would succeed the previous year’s winner, the Yole Sara et AutoDistribution*? *Yoles are named after their sponsors.
In the end, it was the UFR-Chanflor boat from Le Robert that took victory, for the eleventh time, in the Tour des Yoles 2023. It was a moving win for the boat’s historic 60-year-old captain, Félix Mérine, for whom it was the last participation before retiring.
Sunday July 30, 2023
Fort de France - Fort de France
Monday July 31, 2023
Fort de France - Diamant
Tuesday August 1, 2023
Diamant - Rivière Pilote
Wednesday August 2, 2023
Rivière Pilote - Le Vauclin
Thursday August 3, 2023
Le Vauclin - Le François
Friday August 4, 2023
Le François - Trinité
Saturday August 5, 2023
Trinité - Saint Pierre
Sunday August 6, 2023
Saint Pierre - Fort de France
If you want to discover and watch this spectacular and unique-in-the-world regatta, you have two options:
Onshore: Go to the seafront of one of the towns hosting either the start or arrival of a stage and join in the crowd of supporters who come to cheer their favorite teams along.
At Sea: Book a place on a follower boat – this can be a sailing vessel or a motor boat depending on which you prefer – and enjoy the race action from the best seats in the house, out at sea, among the hundreds of boats that come to watch.
Whichever way you choose to watch the competition, you’ll find the excitement to be contagious. So, come and marvel at the incredible sight of all the multi-colored sails and experience the warm and festive atmosphere of this amazing event. From the start line to the finish and all throughout the different Tour stages, you’ll be totally gripped.
And if you need even more convincing, the Tour des Yoles is one more unique opportunity to party in Martinique!