Published on 2020.05.18

Newsletter 1

  • The Bol d'Or Mirabaud won’t take place this year, but we nonetheless invite you to plunge back into the regatta’s world via this Newsletter. Historical articles will enable you to relive certain legendary moments of the race, and to discover the fascinating people who contributed to the Bol d’Or Mirabaud’s richness.

    We hope to see you out on the lake soon, and wish you good reading in the meantime!

    - History -

    First bol d'or - a wild bet!

    Organization of the first Bol d’Or on July 22, 1939, followed numerous increasingly daring attempts. In 1937, Doctor Pierre Bonnet tried to organize a Geneva-Nyon-Yvoire-Geneva race. The following year, he organized the “Twelve Hours of the Léman”, then finally achieved the dream of his youth. 

    “Thanks to generous donors, we can put in place a project that’s been nurtured for a long time. It’s a big race, destined to test the endurance of our sailors as well as their seamanship. Never, to our knowledge, has such a long race been disputed in Switzerland, and we hope its success will lead to it becoming annual,” specify its organizers, Messrs. Bonnet, Veresio, Schopfer, Clyde, Meyer and Bastard, all members of the Paleface Sailing Club, predecessor of the Geneva Yacht Club.

    The road is long, and the shores won’t be lit. Oars and motors are banned and the safety equipment will be checked. Among the twenty-six participants are seven 6 m JIs, the younger sisters of the 12 m JIs that disputed the Americas Cup from 1958 to 1987, three 30 meters, seven “cruisers”, an 8.50 m, three Hoccos, four unidentified sailboats and three beautiful slender sailboats, named Goléron V, Sagittaire and Patinautique II, the first “Lacustres”, designed by Henri Copponex, to be launched.

    Since its first edition, the Bol d’Or honors the best prepared sailboat and the most experienced crew. Ylliam IV is already the descendent of a line or racers. The prize distribution takes place a month after the finish at the Eaux-Vives park restaurant during a recognition dinner. The onwers and their skippers, in suit and tie accompanied by their spouses in formalwear, receive a medal designed by Emile Lachapelle, club member and Olympic rowing medalist from the 1924 Paris games.

    The first edition of Bol d’Or is thus a success, even if only modestly covered by the press of the time. The Tribune de Genève article concludes with praise of the organizers and a wish, “that the Bol d’Or becomes, as it deserves, one of our principle annual sailing challenges, as that’s the way to improve endurance and maneuvering skills.”  82 years later, the wish came true!

    Help us dig into the archives: send your best historical photos here.

    - People -  


    Vincent Varesio is one of the outstanding people in Bol d’Or history. At the origin of the competition, alongside dentist Pierre Bonnet, Colonel Schopfer, the American Marshall Clyde, Jean Meyer and Eric Bastard, he became the starter and official timekeeper starting with the first edition of the event in 1939. He valiantly occupied this post, assisted by the Pannazios (father and son) until 1989: 50 years of good and loyal service!

    Varesio is famous for the legendary anecdote accompanying the first Bol d’Or in 1939. The wind is light and he is becalmed offshore from la Meillerie. Progress is laborious and the first competitors led by 6 m JI Isis II round the Bouveret mark at dusk. Vincent Varesio is happy about the long night’s sleep seemingly awaiting him and he falls asleep. But rain and wind gusts hit the fleet, which begins accelerating on the return leg. “I had hastily donned my raincoat, but underneath I was still wearing pajamas; I didn’t have time to change.” So, it’s in this incongruous outfit that he fired the cannon celebrating the victorious finish of 6 m JI Ylliam IV, helmed by Louis Noverraz.

    Vincent Varesio is still at the center of SNG honor. His photo reigns in the club restaurant. His name is furthermore associated with the Purple Ribbon, the title awarded to the fastest monohull to round Lake Léman. The official name of the trophy, offered by its founder Fred Meyer, is in fact the Varesio Purple Ribbon Challenge and it’s exposed in a showcase at the SNG.

    - Winner Behind the Scenes -  


    Photo: Eric Monnin (second from left) during his BOM 2007 victory with Okalys © Miguel Bueno​

    Numerous sailors have achieved multiple victories and prizes in the BOM. Occupying different crew roles in the races, they don’t always appear on the who’s who list of winners. Here’s an opportunity to meet them!

    A doctor of physics and an engineer when he’s not racing, Eric Monnin is a half Swiss French / half Swiss German sailor with an impressive prize list. Besides his numerous national titles, notably aboard Surprises, and his victories during the “5 Jours du Léman”, he’s been on different podiums at the European and worldwide level. Notably, he is presently ranked number 1 worldwide in the World Sailing Match Racing ranking. As for the Bol d’Or Mirabaud, he’s also been on top. He won the general ranking twice aboard Decision 35 Okalys, and once won the Surprise ranking, as well as other Top 10 awards in various classes.

    “I think I’m most proud of the Surprise victory. It’s very hard to win,” confides the 44-year-old sailor. “I often placed well in this class, but never succeeded in winning. We sought small victories, like in banana regattas where the goals is to lose as little time as possible. In the BOM, it’s different. To sail fast and well, you have to use all your options for it to pay off. That year, we displaced the leading boat between the entry buoy and the finish line. It was a great surprise!”

    “My best memory of the BOM remains however the first victory with Decision 35 Okalys in 2015. Winning the scratch ranking is really incredible! The Bol d’Or Mirabaud is a particular regatta. First, regarding its popular angle, I remember meeting my uncle in his sailboat on the starting line. That only happens in the BOM! It’s also notorious for what happens at night. It’s difficult to see the boats we’ve passed, often mistaking them for shore lights. We mostly see the ones that pass us, which can be very frustrating… you need to be strong mentally!”

    Eric now sails on a high-tech flying prototype. “My goal in 2021 is clear: win among monohulls with our Monofoil Gonet. There will be more competition from similar boats to ours, but we are going to work hard to achieve this objective (which is a dream!)”

    - Boats -  


    We propose that you discover (or rediscover) a specific Léman boat in each newsletter. After these historical articles, let’s turn our attention to the height of technology: the TF35.

    The new hydrofoil follows the great tale of the Decision 35, nicknamed the Léman Formula 1, since its design in 2004. “The TF35 will be a racing beast. The idea is to build, as in the time of the D35, with the best of everything,” confided Ernesto Bertarelli in 2018.  The boat was conceived with the latest foiling technologies to improve performance and simplify high speed foiling while providing more stable flight. With T-shaped foils, it can fly with only 9 knots of wind upwind (reaching speeds 2X that of the wind) and with only 7 knots downwind (reaching speeds up to 3X that of the wind). Built at Multiplast in Brittany, the flying sailboat has already been impressive, notably for its stability, during its first trials. The TF35 Trophy championship had anticipated a fleet of eight during four to six heats this year. It’s obviously on hold, as explains series master Bertrand Favre.

    “The boats are being rigged slowly but surely. The boatyards and transporters have been closed during the pandemic. The fleet should be complete by the end of June if health conditions permit. With six crew needed on board, we can’t sail for now. Swiss Sailing currently limits the number of crewmembers to five. The initial goal is to finish the boats and be able to train. We will soon decide if the second part of the season will be maintained, depending on the evolving situation. It was planned to run the first part of the TF35 Trophy season in Switzerland and the second part abroad. Under the circumstances, we’ll need to stay on the Léman for the second part. The format of these regattas will be decided in early July, but the crews previously announced are already confirmed.

    - 2019 winners -  


    Instead of presenting you the winners of the 82nd edition, we’re going to take advantage of this Newsletter to introduce the class winners of the 2019 edition. After having interviewed winners of the Surprise class and the handicapped ranking in previous editions, we present Bernhard Kraus, TCF4 winner aboard Chaos, a Dehler SprintaSport, which is a 30-year-old boat. Kraus and his crew traveled from Forggensee, Germany for the third time. And they came for a good reason: to celebrate the 80th birthday of his father! It was a family affair since he sailed with his wife, his father and a close friend.

    “After a third place and a Top 10 during our first times participating, it was magnificent to win last year,” muses Bernhard, “especially in these memorable conditions! We often participate in long races on Lake Garda and Lake Constance, but we’d never yet encountered such conditions: the most violent storm we’d ever experienced. Fortunately, the wind was behind us and we were in the middle of the widest part of the lake. We saw it come from a distance and immediately lowered the spinnaker. Then we went straight for two hours trying to stay far away from the shores and the other boats. The main competitors of this BOM 19 were ourselves in the end! It was a matter of managing the storm. It will remain an unforgettable souvenir for me, and the best birthday present my father could ever have dreamed of.”

    - Partners -

    The BOM Family Grows 

    The Bol d’Or Mirabaud is happy to introduce its new partners, who are joining the adventure in 2020 and who have confirmed their support for the next edition in 2021.

    Combining academic excellence and benevolent teaching, the Florimont Institute has worked since 1905 developing the critical spirit of its Swiss, French and international students. This establishment offers an education based on strong values, such as excellence, differentiation, community commitment and solidarity.

    With its rooftop spa, its Michelin starred gastronomic restaurant, its Pierre-Yves Rochon designed rooms and its view of the lake and the Alps, the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva allies a revived sense of history with personalized, warm and authentic service in the heart of the city. 

    Facchinetti is a family name, but it’s also a story. Second largest BMW, Mini and BMW Motorrad dealer in French-speaking Switzerland, the group today offers products and services for new and used automobiles as well as a body shop.

    Slide on snow, feel waves of pure natural air, become intoxicated by speed: Just for Smiles is a non-profit foundation offering sensations and freedom in the form of outdoor activities to children, adolescents and young adults with limited mobility.

    It’s Happening on Social Media

    At the BOM, we know that time can be put to good use during this unusual season! So yes, we decided to keep up the pace in spite of everything! It’s a great moment to perfect technique, to master the jargon of an old seadog… to take the time to train differently.

    To fulfill this ambitious objective, we offer you simulations, quizzes, challenges and numerous surprises. Some of you are already familiar with the Words of the BOM glossary series while others have tried #BOMSailingathome.

    Are you up to it? Then follow us!

    © 4AM

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