The preeminent international lake regatta will welcome more than 550 competitors on Lake Léman this weekend, among which a number of first ever participants coming from the four corners of Europe.
Two days from the start, the stakes are coming into focus. According to meteorologists, the regatta will be disputed with a steady wind and bright sunshine. Two days before the start of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud, the organizers of the competition held by the Société Nautique de Genève confirm that 550 registrant threshold has been crossed. “Without counting last minute registrations, no less than 567 participants have registered their boats; there will therefore be more than 2,500 sailors on Lake Léman this weekend,” rejoices Rodolphe Gautier, president of the organizing committee. In particular, there will be a record 132 Surprise one designs, and more than 60 multihulls.
The 2017 edition is marked by a strong increase in international participation. “That was one of our goals,” further specifies Gautier. “In fact, we invited numerous European clubs to discover our event, and they replied ‘yes’!” Numerous other crews, coming mostly from France, but also from Italy, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and even Great Britain or the United States, spontaneously signed up for the queen of Léman regattas.
Nicolas Mirabaud, executive committee member of Mirabaud & Cie SA, title sponsor of the event and who will participate in the Surprise class, is delighted about the ever-widening breadth of this regatta. “We’ve supported the Bol d’Or Mirabaud since 2005. Year after year, we contribute alongside the organizing committee to its evolution and we’re very satisfied over its growing success with the public, in particular beyond the borders of the lake region.”
With young Geneva sailor Alan Roura as ambassador, after brilliantly finishing twelfth in the Vendée Globe, the 2017 Bol d’Or Mirabaud should happen under sustained wind conditions, which could strengthen overnight from Saturday to Sunday.
There are numerous stakes at play in this 79th edition, and it will be captivating to follow them. Titleholders Dona Bertarelli / Spindrift Racing will try to conquer the Bol d’Or Mirabaud for keeps, an honor going to the crew winning three times in five years. Having won in 2014 and 2016, they have the prerequisites to achieve this objective.
Ernesto Bertarelli and Pierre-Yves Jorand, as well as Christian Wahl, have already won six times in real-time. They only need one more cannon to tie the record number of real-time wins, held jointly by Philippe Stern and Philippe Durr. Dominator of the Décision 35 circuit, Alinghi is obviously out for victory. Helmed by Ernesto Bertarelli and seconded by Arnaud Psarofaghis, the black and red catamaran will try to win its second Bol d’Or Mirabaud since D35s were first introduced in 2004.
When it comes to American Lloyd Thornburg, he acquired D35 Team Tilt and renamed it Phaedo 2. Accustomed to ocean racing aboard his MOD 70 Phaedo, he doesn’t know the Léman and will be challenged to master its subtleties, even if his crew includes a member who’s quite familiar with this body of water: Alain Gautier, winner of the Vendée Globe 1992-93.
Three crews will be the outsiders aboard their flying catamarans Easy to Fly: the excellent crew of Michel Vaucher, Swiss Medical Network, accompanied by Denis Girardet and Robin Maeder, Bernard Vananty’sTix Way and Romain Detroyat’s catamaran.
Equally interesting to follow closely will be the M32 catamaran Section 16 as well as Rodolphe Gautier’s Ventilo M1 Safram with Christophe Peclard at the helm. And don’t forget the sixteen competitive Ventilo M2 catamarans, capable of spoiling the party for the competition.
No fewer than twelve Diam 24 trimarans are expected on the starting line. Certain boats from the Tour de France à la Voile have been rigged for Lake Léman, notably thanks to the addition of a big gennaker (large foresail) that will enable them to contribute to the show. Alan Roura will sail aboard one of these Diam 24s.
Winner of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud monohull category in 2012, 2013 and 2016, and thus title holder of the Bol de Vermeil Challenge (awarded to whoever wins three times in five years), the formidable Hungarian monohull Implantcentre Raffica is back, hunting for yet another Bol! She will be challenged by Psaros 40s, winners in 10 of the last 15 editions. And don’t forget the growing fleet of Psaros 33s, waiting for their time to come…
Numerous other monohulls continue to dispute winning positions: Melges 32s, Luthi F10s and other prototypes, without forgetting a handful of flying monohulls, starting with Thomas Jundt’s Quant 23 and Jacques Velente’s Quant 27 (Uniq), as well as the much-awaited Quant 30s. These are impressive sailboats, but they need very specific wind conditions to threaten the competition.
Finally, no fewer than 132 Surprise monohulls are expected on the starting line. These 7.5m monohulls, designed in 1976, confirm their status as the most dynamic class on the Léman.
The Société Nautique de Genève will be open to the public, who are invited to follow the competition on giant screens installed on the club deck. The club will be especially animated this year with live music, a selfie corner and numerous activities. Note that the magnificent terrace of Les Voiles will be directly accessible from the SNG’s north jetty. In particular, visitors are welcome to come watch the finish, a traditional highlight of the weekend.