Published on 2020.12.16

Newsletter 6

  • Dear Friends of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud,

    The Organizing Committee would like to send you its best wishes for the year-end holidays. We warmly wish you and your loved ones good health and hope with all our heart that you have not been too badly affected by the public health crisis we are currently facing. 

    Let’s look to the future with optimism: the Organizing Committee and the Sailing Circle of the Société Nautique de Genève are actively working on the 2021 BOM. The concept of the race will obviously be adapted to the health situation at that time. We sincerely hope the regatta will take place, with onshore activities and festivities adjusted to the required measures in place at that time.

    We remain optimistic about the future thanks to the support of our loyal partners, who stuck with us through this difficult time and remain committed to be at our side. We thank them very much and look forward to seeing everybody next June in our brand-new club. For those who have not yet visited it, the Société Nautique de Genève has changed a lot: the port’s been enlarged, the sports building’s been inaugurated and the new tender bar has just been completed!

    We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a more gentle, joyful and sailful 2021!

    The Bol d'Or Mirabaud Organizing Committee

    José Bonny - 40 years of dedication to the BOM

    It is with humility that José Bonny recalls his 40 years of volunteer work with the Bol d'Or Mirabaud, 23 years on the Organizing Committee and 3 editions as president (1996, 1997 and 1998). Working "according to my abilities and especially with amazing volunteers," smiles the man who was at one time president of the three major SNG races: the Bol, the Translémanique Solo and the 100 Miles of Pentecost.

    A member of the club since 1976, José Bonny quickly became involved as a volunteer. “I wanted to be an active participant in the life of the club and to fully experience it. I recommend that each member get involved in an event in order to actively contribute to the club's activities.”

    What he remembers most from his years as president is above all a spirit of camaraderie. “All the volunteers and club staff work together toward the same goal: to make this lake festival festive. The atmosphere of the race is the most important aspect of the BOM, and I hope with all my heart that it will be preserved in the future. Not everyone comes to win, but rather for the atmosphere and the round trip to the Bouveret!

    I presided the event for three years, because it is a mandate that I think is appropriate: the first year, you learn about what’s already in place. The second, you bring your personal touch. And the third, you implement what you learned in the first two. It was easier to be president in 1996 than it is today," he says. "We had less accountability to partners, and we were much less numerous. Imagine: we had two volunteers writing texts. And we traveled to our publisher’s office in Bern to print the event’s magazine! Finally, I hired someone to be in charge of communication, in order to professionalize this position back in 1997.

    Another highlight of my presidency was the creation of the Bol de Vermeil. The arrival of the multihulls got a lot of attention, so we put the monohull classification in place along with its Bol de Vermeil. I’m relieved that my successors think like me and have kept it going! Since then, I have gone through every conceivable position as a volunteer, even as a bartender, with my wife Isabelle, who has also been a volunteer for over thirty years! I've had some wonderful encounters. Some volunteers were not even members of the club but came every year to soak up the atmosphere of the race. But what I liked most was my ten times sailing in the BOM with my family. I'm not a racer, but I was glad to be able to participate in this lake festival. And I hope that the soul of the event will always remain the same!”

    Taillevent, the Great Class

    Some sailboats magically attract attention and arouse admiration. Elegant, racy and efficient, the Engel family’s Taillevent is one of them. In the early 1990s, Marc Pajot was preparing for the 95 America's Cup in San Diego. His architect Philippe Briand, built two half-scale models, for training off the coast of Sète. Pierre Engel fell in love with the prototypes, which served as a models for Taillevent. 

    Taillevent was born with the goals of respecting the elegance of the Americas class, to be very fast, simple and without trapezes. Built to 14.2 meters, the maximum allowed by the Lake Léman rating system, it resulted from a 60% reduction of the America's Cup Class sized boat (ACC 1992-2007). It weighs five tons.
    The construction of Taillevent in1995 coincided with the creation of the Bol de Vermeil, awarded to the fastest monohull, to be introduced the following year, and kept indefinitely - like the Bol d'Or – by any boat winning three times in a five year period.

    Frustrated, the Taillevent crew had to be patient before winning the trophy: the Italian Benamati first arrived at the SNG in 1996 with his Libera Raffica, a giant ballasted dinghy on which fifteen crewmembers on trapeze act as mobile ballast. He won consecutively from 1996 to 1998, winning the trophy from when it was first put into play until being disqualified in 1999 because of his fixed bowsprit, deemed non-compliant with the rating.

    Psaros 40 and Taillevent monotypes then took over, dominating the Bol de Vermeil, sharing most of the victories from 2001 to 2018. Taillevent won three times (2001, 2003, 2009), while Psaros 40s won twelve editions of the race. 

    Taillevent's victory in 2003 was memorable! On the way back, an apocalyptic storm hit Lake Geneva, which decimated the multihull fleet, and put a death warrant out on 40 footers, foreshadowing the arrival of the Decision 35. Taillevent slipped through the storm without a hitch, slaloming between the capsized multihulls, and finally finished in 7th place in the scratch ranking. An unexpected result and a beautiful memory for this team, faithful among the Bol d'Or Mirabaud faithful.

    Arnaud Didisheim, Wize by TeamWork - M2 Winner

    Winning the multihull category 2 aboard M2 Wize by TeamWork in 2019, wasn’t Arnaud Didisheim’s first success. He was already crowned aboard the same boat in 2017, when he set a new record: 6:11:23. Do windy BOMs suit Arnaud? “It's true we like to sail in these conditions,” smiles the man who has about twenty Bol editions on his résumé.

    "The whole crew has a good sense of seamanship, good risk management, and that's what makes the difference in these strong conditions. Last year, we worked our way to the head of the M2 pack, then we made our move during the storm. We knew that something very strong was coming at us and we had already prepared the storm jib. Seeing the storm coming in the distance, we doused the gennaker. After a while sailing under bare poles, we raised the jib, and then the mainsail. It was probably a little too soon, because a second wind gust came, but it was too late, we could not drop the sails and had to move forward! We made the choice to position ourselves mid-lake to be far from the coast during the storm, which allowed us to have all the cards in our hand when it was over. And it worked! The Ventilo M2 sails like a big dinghy," concludes Arnaud Didisheim. “She behaves well in over 30 knots. And she even sails well at sea, as we saw when we led the saltwater fleet.”

    Laurent-Perrier: No Victory without Champagne at the Bol d'Or Mirabaud

    No competition without a win, and no award ceremony without champagne! The Bol d'Or Mirabaud is supported by Laurent-Perrier, the event's official champagne supplier. Frédéric Panza, deputy director of Laurent-Perrier - Switzerland, says that the company supports the Bol d'Or Mirabaud because it is an event “of global notoriety, which brings an image of quality and excellence while conveying the values of the sailing world.”

    Like other partners of the event, the group appreciates the different facets of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud: competition, a popular festival and also a birthplace of technology advancement. “Every year, the race is the scene of fabulous innovation and it allows us to draw parallels with the values of Maison Laurent-Perrier: being a pioneer and innovator in Champagne, with the creation of exceptional wines.”

    Frédéric Panza also appreciates the exceptional environment in which the event takes place: “The race allows us to enjoy a wonderful natural setting, and to realize how lucky we are to live here. It is open, unifying and festive, kicking off the Geneva summer season. My best memory,” he concludes, “is the 2017 edition, contested in perfect conditions, with an incredible neck-in-neck finish! I had the chance to follow the race on the water, and the powerful motorboat we were in could barely keep up with the lead boats on the way back!”

    First Multihulls of Lake Léman: Pioneers and Daredevils

    The appearance of the first multihulls on Lake Léman generated a lot of excitement, like this trimaran built by Claude Bourquin in an Eaux-Vives apartment, and which had to be extracted through the window... © Claude Bourquin

    The first multihulls appeared on the Léman in the early fifties, met by an attitude mixing indifference with contempt. In 1950, Henri Copponex designed the first of them, 7 meters long and 2.8 meters wide. 

    Ten years later, German billionaire Gunther Sachs was seen off the coast of Montreux with his wife Brigitte Bardot aboard the catamaran Pacific Blue. François (Kinet) Hägler, from the eponymous shipyard, was hired as skipper, and all too happily sailed along overtaking metric class sailboats, cluttered by the weight of their appendages. 

    Fifteen years separate the design of the first Lake Léman multihull from the first multihull participation in the Bol d'Or: Charles Pictet's Shark. As a reward for obtaining his secondary school diploma in 1966, Pictet received an 18-foot catamaran designed by the British naval architect, McAlpine Brownie, equipped with a battened sail and – a great innovation - two daggerboards and two rudders, as well as a trapeze.

    Pictet planned to take the Bol d'Or start along with his brother Bénédict, Bernard Bourquin and François Devaud. They planned two shifts with a pit stop at the Bouveret to relieve the crew. However, multihulls are very unpopular with the SNG, to the point that the catamaran did not receive permission to participate in the Bol d'Or. 

    It was not until the eighties, and the advent of Philippe Stern, that multihulls became part of the event, in spite of the controversy. President of Patek Philippe, Stern won the famous race seven times (an unmatched record, which Ernesto Bertarelli eagerly covets). He won the Bol d'Or trophy for keeps in 1984. 

    Stern had an elite crew: meteorologist Bernard Dunand, who designed the sailboat, Phil Durr, who built it, and Daniel Stampfli, who designed the sails. It is the first Lake Léman team to bring such
    a professional approach. Philippe Stern adds his vision and passion for technology and innovation, involving the construction of four successive multihulls, all ahead of their time.

    Forty years later, multihulls hold all records and are represented by boats of all sizes. Multihull architects and sailors, in Switzerland as in the rest of the world, have completely rethought the fundamental principles of sailing, finding a substitute for the tons of lead previously needed in keels. The latest additions, the TF 35 hydrofoils, are the latest step in a series of phenomenal developments, with their powerful computers designed to calculate and actuate flight parameters. Looking at the exponential acceleration of technology development, it’s hard to imagine what will come next!

    "It's Happening on Social Media!"   

    33 skippers took the start of the Vendée Globe, the legendary solo, non-stop, unassisted round-the-world trip! These sailors include BOM participants.  We challenged you to identify them. The community has of course found the only Swiss, and youngest participant in the race, Alan Roura.

    Also present in this small club is Sébastien Destremau, who participated in the BOM aboard a Grand Surprise in 2007 (he just made a magnificent ascent of Merci’s mast); and Samantha Davis, who sailed on Lake Léman in 2009 aboard On December 4, she had to abandon her race after colliding with an unidentified floating object (UFO).
    We are following their race closely and wish them FAIR WINDS!

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