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Le Coureur - French Lugger

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I own a model of this ship since I was around 12 years old and recently decided to track down its history. Hope you guys enjoy.


There is also a PDF of this available here: http://www.mediafire.com/view/08ba45nw37cflm7/Le_Coureur.pdf


Le Coureur – Privateer Lugger


Built: Dunkirk
Shipyard: Jaques & Daniel Denys
Laid down: December 1775
Launched: Mai 1776
Commissioned: August 1776
Nation: France


Purpose: Privateering operations versus British merchantmen in the English Channel.


Design specifications & features:


For it to succeed in its intended role, Le Coureur (the runner) was built for speed. Rigged as a Lugger, the ship was to be fast, maneuverable and responsive. A notable feature of Le Coureur however was the addition of a mizzen mast, set far aft raking out of the water. This required the addition of a long bumpkin sticking out of the stern of the ship. Her long bowsprit carried the jibsheet, while the fore and main mast both held two top lugsails as well as two large lugsails. Her mizzen carried an additional lugsail. This design provided Le Coureur maximum speed and excellent maneuverability. Outrunning most vessels in almost any scenario, her only weakness was running before the wind where most conventional square rigged ships would outpace her.


Her gundeck had a length of 60’0” (21.4m) while the keel measured 56’6” (18.3m). Her breadth was 20’4” (6.6m) and depth of hold sat at 11’0” (3.5m). Her height was 96’0” (35m)


Crew & Armament:


In order to work the unconventional big sail area and man all the guns, the ship was crewed by a combined force of 50 men. She was put under the command of Enseigne (Enseigne des vaisseau –Ensign) de Rosily.


Taking into consideration her intended role, Le Coureur was armed with eight 2-pounders, four aside. An additional two 3-pounders were installed as well as six swivels. Unsurprisingly for a ship her class, she had not bow chasers or stern cannons. Her broadside weight was 12.5 French livre (13.4lb/6.1kg).


Operational History:


Commanded by de Rosily, Le Coureur set sail from Brest on the 15th of June 1778, two and a half years after having been laid down. She accompanied the frigate Belle Poule and Licorne as well as the corvette Hirondelle. Two days later, her fate as a French ship was sealed. Although no official declaration of war had been given up to this point, the small French fleet feel victim to a British force. Spotting the French fleet, a larger and more heavily armed British fleet – twenty sail of the line, four frigates and three unrated ships - under the command of Admiral Keppel gave chase. Catching the French ships, the British frigates captured Licorne. During the action, Belle Poule was damaged but managed to escape the fight and capture. The fate of the Hirondelle is unknown but a ship fitting its description remained in French service until 1983.


Largely ignored by the larger British ships, Le Coureur was ordered to strike its colours after the French fleet was shattered. Refusing to give up she became the target of the British fleet and tangled with the British cutter HMS Alert. Exchanging cannon, musket and pistol fire, both ships became locked in a ninety minute long close quarter engagement. Accurate cannon fire from Le Coureur damaged Alert above and on the water line, as well as doing substantial damage to the cutters rigging. She wounded four British sailors and presumably killed an additional four. The damage to Le Coureur itself is unknown although it can be assumed that it was heavy enough to force de Rosily to finally strike his colours. Becoming Alert’s prize, Le Coureur lost five men and had seven wounded. Although losing his ship, de Rosily’s action against the British fleet and Alert earned him the Croix-Saint Louis.




Renamed Coureur by the British, she was in service for the Royal Navy until 1780. Potentially up armed and receiving an unconfirmed two additional guns, she was lost to the Americans off Newfoundland. Other sources state she was retaken by France in 1782.























Clowes, William, The Royal Navy: a history from the earliest times to the present, Vol. IV, London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company, 1899, pp. 13, 15, 111 and 114, available online at: https://ia600506.us.archive.org/8/items/royalnavy04clow/royalnavy04clow.pdf (12.01.2015),


Nauticalia, Le Coureur, Accompanying leaflet in 7482 Le Coureur Lugger Display Model - 54 cm length, Shepperton-on-Thames: Nauticalia Ltd, 2001,

Alert vs. Le Coureur: http://threedecks.org/index.php?display_type=show_battle&id=519 (12.01.2015),


Additional information found at: http://threedecks.org/index.php?display_type=show_ship&id=19238 (12.01.2015),


Hirondelle in French service: http://threedecks.org/index.php?display_type=ships_search (12.01.2015),


Hirondelle 1762: http://threedecks.org/index.php?display_type=show_ship&id=15638 (12.01.2015),



Boudriot, Jean and Berti, Hubert, Le Coureur – Lougre 1776 Du constructeur Denys- Monographie Au 1/42, pp. 39, available online at: http://ancre.fr/en/monographies-en/50-monographie-du-coureur-lougre-1776.html , (12.01.2015),

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/3438-ships-chimneys/?p=140848, Prior source unknown, assumed ibit. to previous, (21.01.2015).

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would be nice if they could put her stern on the brig wich looks currently completly out of place compared to all other ships.

like an unwanted child.  the plain B figure like on the ontario currently would be perfect


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She'd make an interesting starter ship alongside the Lynx.  That and you'd get to sail a ship you've been looking at since your early years  :)

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Not a big fan of fore-and-aft rig ships, simply because I am not skilled in sailing them, using the sails to turn quickly, and what not. However, I like this ship. She's pretty in her own weird way in my eye.


  Looks like an 8 gun ship? Could fit between the Cutter and Brig, perhaps?

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Here is my model, the lighting is suboptimal but her features are obvious. I was 12 when I bought her for €40 after receiving a small token discount by the shops owner (it was in Hamburg) who was astonished a young kid such as me would use up all his pocket money on a ship. The model's quality is obviously in line with the price I payed for it - it's not a custom made piece of art but something that has seen both automated mechanical work as well as a few finishing touches by workers. The most obvious problems with is the nonaligned paint job (not visible here) and the modeling mistake of placing her bumpkin in the middle of the stern rather than offset to port side (something I only noticed after researching the ship). Irregardless, I still love this model.


I have also seen illustrations placing an additional lugsail on the mizzen, but cannot confirm whether that truly was the case.




 Looks like an 8 gun ship? Could fit between the Cutter and Brig, perhaps?


This is were the reports get a bit sketchy. Most illustrations depict her as a 8-gun ship similar to the Lynx (ignoring the six swivels). However, there is also evidence that she had eight 2-pouders and two 3-pounders. When captured, the Brits noted 14 guns (8 cannons/ 6 swivels) - it might be that they later added the two 3-pounders but that is speculation on my part. If it is so she would be a 10-gun ship which - gun wise - would place her between the Lynx and the Cutter.

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