Published on 2020.09.15

Newsletter 4

  • Dear Bol d'Or Mirabaud Friends,

    We hope you were able to enjoy sailing this summer. A few regattas coincided with returning to school, to the joy of all sailors! We invite you to read the latest BOM news, as well as catch up with certain personalities in this newsletter edition.

    - Winners in the Shadows -

    Jean-Marc Monnard: The evolution of Swiss sailing is intimately intertwined with the BOM

    Associate of the Europ’sails loft, Jean-Marc Monnard is a well-known Bol d’Or Mirabaud figure (as well as in Swiss sailing more generally). With numerous victories under his belt, including one in scratch time aboard Zebra 7 during the year Décision 35s were launched, he also recalls successes with Taillevent, Psaros 40s and other smaller classes.
    “It wasn’t necessarily with the fastest boats that finished faster! I had some magnificent Bols, arriving in the evening, on Surprises,” remembers the 55-year-old Genevan. “Surprises are great due to the large number of competitors in the class. If I could choose, I prefer participating in the BOM on a comfortable boat, such as a good monohull, on which spending the night is easy. But regardless of the vessel, it needs to be able to move well!”

    “It’s difficult for me to choose the best memory from this race. There are always stories to tell, in all the classes. But it’s a race that is true to its name… you need ‘bol’ <translation note: French colloquialism for luck>! Luck plays an important role.”

    Refined connoisseur of different boats since his youth, we interviewed him on the evolution of Swiss sailing and the BOM. “In terms of boats, the main difference is that with the fastest vessels like recent multihulls, you can take advantage of the entire lake, such as seeking out better winds across the lake, while the older boats try to minimize the distance traveled. There are more tactical and strategic options!”

    “The race itself hasn’t evolved! The regatta is the same as it’s always been, with passionate sailors leaving Saturday morning, excited to tour the lake. The weather hasn’t evolved much either but each edition is different. On the other hand, the publicity aspect has grown significantly, with more communication and more celebration. This aspect has developed so much that it almost overshadows the competition itself. Real-time tracking of racers has also brought a lot!”

    “In my opinion, the evolution of sailing is intimately linked to the BOM. Enthusiasts invest lots of energy and money to develop boats that will win the BOM! The Americas Cup leads the development show internationally, and the BOM plays this role in Switzerland. Until recently, winning the BOM was accessible to all. Even an avid amateur could achieve it with a good boat. Now with the arrival of flying boats, it’s no longer the case. The evolution of hydrofoils is fascinating but limited to an elite group.”


    - Personalities -

    Benoit Deutsch and his youngsters from the Versoix Sailing Club.​

    The Bol d’Or Mirabaud of youngsters 

    The Schools Trophy awards the best sailing school crew aboard a Surprise. Its objective is to develop young crews’ interest in competition, and it’s been open to Lake Léman sailing schools for a dozen years. The number of crewmembers is set at four and they can’t be older than 17 on the day of the race. They are coached by an accredited teacher. One such teacher has won multiple times with the Versoix Sailing Club: Benoit Deutsch.

    “Participating in the BOM with these youngsters allows them to experience this great celebration of lake regattas. It’s a shared moment of team building that’s part of the apprenticeship I do with them. We work on aspects above and beyond pure sailing, such as rest, nutrition and crew management over a longer duration…”

    Benoit usually starts with three kids learning to sail Optimists, aged 12 to 14 years old, and one adolescent between 15 and 17 years old. The only criterion is that the youngster has never participated in the BOM (and each one will only do it once with him!). “These are memories that mark one’s life. I’ve never abandoned the race as I want to teach them the value of going all the way through with things. The hardest thing to manage is some strong personalities, as well their fear and fatigue.” How does he manage to win the Schools Trophy every year? “I aim for the overall Surprise ranking and not just the Schools Trophy one!”

    Marcelo Squier is the Société Nautique de Genève trainer. He also participates in the BOM each year with his students. “It introduces them to another aspect of competitive sailing and gives them the opportunity to participate in this major event. Youngsters learn about professional crews, different types of boats, teamwork and long-distance racing. Nighttime sailing is an experience they’ll never forget.

    - Partners -

    The Florimont Institute at the BOM’s sides

    Founded by the Missionaries of Saint François de Sales congregation in 1905 and led by lay people since 1995, the  Florimont Institute is a private school for students aged between 3 and 18, offering a full course from kindergarten to university entrance, via its three curricula: the Swiss Maturité, the French Baccalaureate and the International Baccalaureate.

    A French-speaking, bilingual school, the institute offers an excellent education based on advanced languages and sciences. It also focuses on developing human competencies using community service activities. “At Florimont, we believe that the pursuit of excellence and self-betterment are values shared by the Bol d’Or Mirabaud,” expresses Sean Power, Director General of the institute. “Furthermore, as a Genevan school, we take participating in the city’s major events to heart. Associating our name with that of the BOM was therefore natural. The 2019 Bol d’Or Mirabaud left me with a souvenir of an eventful edition to say the least! As for the 2020 edition, we were confined so we can’t wait to see what the 2021 edition holds in store or us. We are currently working on establishing a crew to sail under Florimont colors next year.”

    - Boats -


    The Toucan - Lord of the Léman

    The design will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year! An emblematic Lake Léman sailboat, the Toucan is the first boat to have been designed with the express purpose of winning the Bol d’Or. Its reign extended unchallenged from 1971 to 1978. Still today, its racy lines, its elegance and its performance earn it rave reviews. To celebrate the Toucan’s 50 years, the BOM will include a separate ranking, as long as at least 20 boats start the 2021 edition.

    “The Toucan remains a fantastic sailboat,” declares class president, René Grept. “25 units still have SRS ratings, while some fifteen crews regularly compete in regattas. The series is dynamic, with owners who are generally in love with this boat. The class has evolved with time, and notably adopted an asymmetrical spinnaker that allows for shorthanded sailing with no difficulty.
    In 1968, Marcel Stern had just won the Olympic silver medal in Acapulco with Bernard Dunand and Louis Noverraz aboard a 5.5m JI named Toucan. Noverraz and master sailmaker André Fragnière convince Stern to order the first unit of their newest design, to be called Toucan, like all of its owner’s prior sailboats. Toucan XI, the first in the class, left the Luthi boatyard in Crans on the eve of the XXXIVth Bol d’Or in 1971. Its crew was composed of Daniel Girardet, André Fragnière, Philippe Durr and Marcel Stern.

    “We launched the first unit on the eve of the Bol d’Or,” recalls Durr. “We stepped the mast, then slept a few hours before the start. We weren’t ready and I spent the first hours of the regatta tensioning the shrouds and adding rigging hardware. Once we arrived at Thonon, we took out the binoculars and looked behind us. We could barely see our challengers.”

    Toucans won eight consecutive Bol d’Or editions, from 1971 to 1978. No fewer than 86 units were built in 40 years at the Luthi, Transléman, Egger, Haefele, Liechti and Psaros boatyards.

    - 2019 winners -


    Bernard Borter - Grand Surprise master

    Winning the Grand Surprise class in 2019, Bernard Borter (Vidy Sailing Circle) wasn’t on his first try. Almost unbeatable in the class, in the BOM as well as class series, the Grand Surprise master met up with us.

    “I chose the GS because there aren’t many affordable one-design classes other than the Surprise. We have a championship and a race calendar. The boat is simple and efficient for its size. We can really go for it! We have a very regular crew... almost the same for 16 years! We train at least once a week.”

    “For the BOM, we always sail with six aboard, and we prepare the boat so it’s especially comfortable and so that we can sleep well. We have multiple helmsmen aboard so that no one has to hold the tiller more than 2 – 3 hours at a time. We thus have multiple decision makers and helmsmen aboard. When the tactician and helmsman are fresh, it keeps things dynamic aboard.”

    “That is therefore one of my suggestions: have multiple helmsmen! And don’t hesitate to sleep. Also, to be at ease in a BOM, you have to be at ease on your boat and know it well. We often find ourselves in conditions we don’t normally experience, but we have to manage them. At night, for example, everything is more stressful.

    From Poland to Lake Léman

    Numerous crews travel from abroad to participate in our mid-June lake festival. One of them, Raffica, is well known in the region. That’s the Hungarian Libera that won the Bol de Vermeil multiple times. It’s not the only foreign boat to come for the BOM. Crews from Italy, France, Hungary, Germany, Austria, and even Poland are represented! Aleksander Dembinski, from the Yacht Klub Polski Warszawa, and his sailboat Dembiany, participated in the 2019 edition for the first time with his family.

    “Since our childhood, we sailed on Lake Léman during vacations. This year, the regatta was an opportunity to meet as a family. My father’s passion for sailing reunited us. We wanted to have an early celebration for his birthday in style,” recounts Aleksander, who joined with this father, his two daughters, his niece and his nephew. “The experience couldn’t have been more memorable! After the start in a light wind, we were caught in the storm within a few minutes. The horizon disappeared and hail began falling on us. The children were safe, but the boat was knocked down. We were helpless on a dark, red lake. Eventually we ran aground against the Hermance jetty, where we abandoned the boat that’s accompanied us for years. The rescue team came to get us after the storm, and we were brought to dry land. Nobody expected winds this strong, waves this size, or such violent hail. When the lake was covered, we couldn’t recognize anything. We had the impression we were sailing on the most terrifying of oceans.”

    “Soon it will be time to take on the challenge of this intense race once again, with the main objective being to return safely to port!”


    “It’s happening on social networks!”  

    During the summer, the BOM called upon your musical taste to co-create a special sailing playlist on Instagram and Facebook. We presented a contest between two songs directly in our stories. And you chose your favorite that will be part of the BOM playlist. We will continue our music selection in the coming weeks.

    So, tell us if you’re more Rolling Stones, Julien Doré or even Chopin!

    Especially, don’t hesitate to send your proposals directly via personal message to the BOM accounts, or to:

    See you soon on the BOM airwaves.

    © 4AM

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