Marabu's Navy days


Marabu at Cowes in 1961

In 1956 the Royal Navy decommissioned the Coastal Forces at HMS Hornet and in 1957 Marabu was taken into the hands of the Royal Navy as an official sail-training yacht, run by HMS Excellent at Whale Island, Portsmouth. In 1958 she took part in the Tall Ships Race from Brest to Las Palmas in the Canaries. 


In 1959 Marabu won the Royal Lymington Race to St Peter Port in Guernsey, before competing in the Oslo to Ostend Tall Ships Race in 1960. Marabu remained very active in racing during the 1960s, taking part in more Tall Ships races and continuing to compete in the Fastnet Races (completing her last race in 1965). She also took part in many RORC races, including covering 16,000 miles in 1967–68 and continuing her activities into the 1970s.

In the Round the Island Race in 1974 Marabu is recorded as taking part with RNSA Commodore, Admiral Sir Wilfrid Woods (1906–75) at the helm and three full Captains on board.
In the Tall Ships Race from Dartmouth to La Coruna in 1974 Marabu came first in class and
second overall.


By the early to mid 1970s the Windfalls had began to drop out of the more competitive end of Service sailing with the arrival of more competitive yachts on the scene. There was much discussion behind the scenes about the most suitable craft for sail training. By 1972 with the arrival of the new Contessas under the Yacht Replacement Scheme, the Windfalls were gradually sold off by the Ministry of Defence. Marabu remained very active in training and racing until the mid 1970s. In 1976, in what was perhaps her swansong with the Services, Marabu came fifth over the line in the first Inter-Service 215-mile race to Le Havre, with a set of incredibly old sails and a worn-out spinnaker. Marabu was finally sold into private hands in October 1977.

Historical reference: 

The Royal Naval Sailing Association Journals:

Farewell to the Windfalls by Lieutenant Alan Roche

Gathering another Windfall by Lieutenant Commander Patrick J. Fryer

Marabu – A Grand Old Lady by the Marabu Syndicate, 1995

The Windfall Yachts by Michael Cudmore