This is also a symbol of Switzerland!


      This is also a symbol of Switzerland!
      Long time ago we did not read the new reports of Elena Otekina and did not see her wonderful pictures. And so they came!

This is also a symbol of Switzerland!

© Elena Otekina

Last weekend, for the first time I had the opportunity to visit the largest and most prestigious lake regatta in the world – Bol d'Or Mirabaud. Along with chocolate, banks and watches, which has become a true symbol of Switzerland, the race has been held since 1939, and this year it has started 81 times!

According to the president of the organizing committee of the regatta Rodolphe Gautier, Switzerland ranks second among the sailing nations of the world in the number of yachts per capita – right after New Zealand, and every year Bol d'Or Mirabaud attracts not only new participants, but also more and more spectators. A surge of interest in sailing in Switzerland occurred after the victory of Ernesto Bertarelli and his team Alinghi in the America's Cup – and since then more and more Swiss people are engaged in sailing.

In Geneva, something is constantly happening, the audience here is spoiled by cultural and sporting events, but at the start of the Bol d'Or almost the entire city gathers to see how half a thousand yachts and 3000 yachtsmen leave the bay. In fact, this is a big sailing festival with live concerts and parties. In the days of the regatta, one of the most closed and prestigious yacht clubs in the world – Société Nautique de Genève – opens the doors to everyone. The deck of the historic ship "Neptune" built in 1904, special moored at the club on the occasion of the regatta, is used as a stage for concerts and awards.

The distance is 66.5 miles from the start in Geneva, rounding the sign opposite the town of Bouvray at the other end of the lake and returning to Geneva. The race record is 5 hours and 1 minute and was set by the Triga IV trimaran in 1994. But, like 80 years ago, some boats have to spend about a day on the water before finally finishing.

Over the years, such stars of world sailing as Eric Tabarley, Dennis Connor, Frank Kamma, Francois Gabar, Russell Cutts, Michel Dejouio, Ellen MacArthur and Loik Peyron became participants and winners of the regatta.

Since 2005, the regatta has been sponsored by the Mirabaud banking group, which is very close to the values ​​of sailing and the challenges that the sail sets for people. Some of the managing partners of the group are themselves keen yachtsmen, and employees regularly participate in regattas as part of the Mirabaud team in the most popular local lake class Surprise. The same Mirabaud, I remind you, awards annual prizes for the best photo and video works made during sailing competitions – Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image and Mirabaud Sailing Video Award. This year the group celebrates its bicentennial and in honor of this event even awarded a special prize for the 200th place!


The proximity of mountains dictates a complex wind rose: here it is impossible to build long-term weather forecasts, and meteorologists' predictions are often not justified. The wind here is very interesting and unstable, it can go in narrow stripes from several directions at once, and quite often two yachts aboard the ship are in different winds, which makes tactics especially difficult. This year, everyone feared that the race would become completely calm and several days before the start it was jokingly called Lake Doldrums, but contrary to expectations, the current regatta turned into a real Armageddon and will go down in history of Lake Geneva as one of the most dramatic and dramatic episodes of its sailing life .

The last 24-hour forecast promised a light breeze at the start, and then, by five in the evening, an extensive storm front with the wind at 30+ knots was to overtake the participants. All crews were warned, rescue services are ready, but the reality exceeded all expectations!

After the fabulous Friday opening party of the regatta with a magnificent sunset, live music, mountains of food and rivers of wine, the start of the morning of June 15 was overcast – wall rain and no wind. However, by the time of launch, the last 24-hour forecast began to come true by the minute. Shortly before the starting signal, the sun came out and the southwest breeze rose to 5-7 knots, which allowed to start a full course. The spectacle of several hundred boats, going densely crowded under the bright spinnakers, was impressive, the first time I saw such a number of yachts on the lake! There seemed to be all kinds of sailing ships over the past 30 years. In addition to the hundreds of yachts of the old Surprise lake class, there were historical boats and modern sports yachts including J / 70 and Melges, and even Mini 6.5, as well as carbon flying catamarans. .

Russia was represented by the Principessa of the Libera project with a member of the All-Russian Union of Russian Football Federation's Lanfranco Cherillo on the steering wheel, tactician Daniele De Luca, as well as famous Russian racers – three-time world champion Finn-Masters Vladimir Krutskikh and members of the Russian Olympic team Arkady Kistanov and Daniil Krutskih. The large international crew of 15 people also included a large Swedish businessman, a famous traveler, the famous polar explorer and honorary consul of Russia in Lausanne, Frederick Paulsen.

All 482 registered participating yachts, divided into 10 classes, started simultaneously at a signal from the gun. In front of the starting line of single-hull boats a separate line for multi-hull was installed.


The Décision 35 (D35) class catamarans immediately escaped ahead, who, after 16 years of participation in the Bol d'Or, performed this year for the last time to give way to the foil fellows next year. Alinghi Ernesto Bertarelli, Realteam Jerome Claire and D35 Ladycat modified D35 were among the top three leaders. Dona Bertarelli with Jan Guichard on the steering wheel, on which Dona in 2010 became the second woman winner in the history of the regatta. Once it was a pink boat with a female crew, but then Ladycat catamaran was completely rebuilt and became part of the Spindrift project, which Dona created with her husband, the famous French offshore racer Jan Guichard.

Closer to three o'clock the leaders of the fleet reached the sign of Bouvret, and the first managed to go around the catamaran Gishar, followed by Realteam Jerome Cler. According to Jan, becoming the first on the sign was for the team the first major task, it gave a further advantage. Both sailboats of the Libera project dominated among single-crews: the three-time Bol d'Or winner Hungarian Raffica and the Russian Principessa.

The storm came exactly according to the forecast, but it turned out to be much stronger than expected – with a half meter torn wave, wind of 50+ knots and heavy rain. Visibility was zero, the boats, one after another, lost their masts and sails. The meteorological service recorded impulses of 60 knots in the area of ​​Bouvre. Thanks to the good organization and efficient work of the organizing committee, rescue services and volunteers there were no casualties, but many of the hardware suffered very seriously.

212 boats left the race, about 40 lost masts, including the second Realteam, numerous MOBs, several yachts sank. According to Russian Maxim Fedorov, who was on board speaking under the Swiss flag Seascape 24 Olga, they stormed for about an hour, and then left the race. The team managed to take the reefs, but the twist of the staysail did not cope, the sail unwound and broke. “When we entered the marina of Thonon, we realized that we got off easily. There were already several boats without masts around, and the police were collecting boats on the lake that had lost their speed. Experienced participants say that they have never seen anything like this on the lake. With us there was still a boy of 9 years old, for him it became a “baptism of fire”.

While the Hungarian Raffica managed to remove all the sails and avoid a coup, although for this it had to leave the course, the Russian Principessa experienced a full overkill. According to Arkady Kistanov, during the coup, the pillow on the top of the mast, which was supposed to provide buoyancy, did not work – and the mast went vertically under water, but fortunately it did not break. A command boat caught the crew out of the water and helped put the boat. The yacht left the race and got to the nearest marina. The members of the team kept on their way all the way and didn’t lose their good mood even during extreme swimming, and from the damage, Principessa received only a split in the centerboard.


Having survived the storm, Raffica was able to quickly catch up on lost time and won a prize for the first finish among THE BOL DE VERMEIL CHALLENGE team mates. The winning team gets a silver copy of the Cup and can keep the Cup forever, only if with the same owner or with the same syndicate wins the regatta three times in the last five years. Raffica was already able to do this in 2016 and now has opened a new score for cups.

The first to finish line among the entire fleet was the D35 Ladycat catamaran. Powered by Spindrift Racing. He received the main prize of the regatta – THE BOL D’OR CHALLENGE.

According to Jan Guichard, the storm hit very quickly, the wind reached 52.4 knots, and it was extremely difficult to keep the catamaran from capsaize; because of the floods of rain and wind in the face, it was absolutely impossible to look forward, so he had to steer, looking backwards. The most difficult thing was to get through to meet the fleet. “I have never been in such a storm, even in the ocean!” Said a participant in four attempts to conquer the Jules Verne Cup.

“When the storm started, we could not remove the grotto in time. The guys began to take the reefs, but I realized that we do not have time, and said to dump the staysail. We stopped the boat and waited 10 minutes for the worst. The wave was very high for the lake – one and a half meters and very short, it was very difficult. Then we waited for another 20 minutes until the wind dropped to at least 30 knots, before we set down the staysail and returned to the course. We were very close to a coup all the time, literally walking along the edge. ”

After the storm, the wind fell, and at the end of the race the team was almost overtaken by two closest rivals – D35 Ylliam Comptoir Immobilier and Alinghi. The last miles were given to Jan Gishar very difficult, the wind was less than 5 knots, and the situation was unpredictable, but still Ladycat could beat Ylliam Comptoir by three minutes, completing the race in 10 hours 36 minutes and 21 seconds.

Jan Guichard won this prestigious award for the second time, and for Dona Bertarelli, this is the fourth victory in 13 years of Ladycat's participation in the Bol d'Or and the third victory in the last five years. Now the team has the right to keep the Cup in his possession. Last time, Dona Ernesto Bertarelli’s famous brother succeeded in 2001. and his alinghi.

After the end of the race, Dona told that it was a very emotional moment when her yacht achieved victory in its last season, and in such difficult conditions. “It was a beautiful story that has now come to an end, and I look forward to the beginning of a new story next year, with a new boat and new adventures!”

Elena Otekina,

photo of the author.

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