Tilt takes monohull honours

After a very very slow conclusion to the Bol d'Or Rolex

Sunday June 18th 2006, Author: Denis van den Brink, Location: France
Nearly 600 of them set out yesterday morning in tight rows against the local easterly 'Séchar' wind. Just a handful of them had rounded Le Bouveret, at the far end of Lac Léman, by the start of the afternoon, and even fewer - heroic souls nonetheless - had made port by yesterday evening. These were the escapees of a Bol d'Or Rolex that, true to form, was hard on the sailors, gruelling for the nerves and tough on equipment due to the mostly very light conditions.

At dawn, the fleet spanned the entire width of the race course. Genoas flog, colourful spinnakers inflate and then deflate as if pumps by the lungs of the lake. In a race full of unpredictability, courage and patience are the necessities of the Bol D'or Rolex. Finially it was Alex Schneiter and Patrick Firmenich, who were the first to slide their red Psaros 40 monohull Tilt almost surreptitiously across the finish line shortly after 0100 this morning to take victory in Class 1. It is the beginning of a vast lengthy procession of boats here like swallows in spring to answer the call of 'Lac Léman'.

The Bol de Vermeil goes to Tilt

For almost the entire race, Alex Schneiter and Patrick Firmenich aboard the Psaros 40 Tilt believed that Taillevent II - Nicolas Engel's one off which had been right on their tail since Bouveret - was going to catch them. Their greatest fear in the worst calm zone was to see the famous Bol de Vermeil snatched from them, a prize promised to any boat capable of lining up three class victories over a five-year period. The satisfaction of having won it, after such tense racing, lit up the faces of Schneiter's crew as the Race Committee sounded the finish gun for them at 0104 hours. In the event Tilt had a lead of just 12 minutes over Taillevent II, a yacht designed and built like an old style Mini America's Cup class yacht, though the anemometer was barely above zero.

"It's been a testing race" said Schneiter with a smile. "Especially at the finish where we feared we'd be run over by a gust right up until the last minute." It's not easy reading the lake surface in the pitch black, with not a single breath of wind. "This Bol d'Or Rolex is exceptional, not only because we won it, but also because we've had all kinds of conditions, complete with a violent squall with 27 knots of wind. It was a complete race that was all about strategy."

Firmenich takes up the story: "It was a fabulous 'Bol d'Or Rolex! We could have lost everything just a few boat lengths from the line. You couldn't afford to mess up the final manouvres, or risk stopping a boat that was only moving as a result of its own inertia. It was very tense at the end. Thank you to the crew." Behind the first two, came Full Pelt, skippered by Olympic medallist Jo Richards, completing the Class 1 podium.

Storm and Some Hope

This 68th Bol d'Or Rolex will remain etched in the memory, partly for the big storm that struck mid-afternoon, while the whole fleet was stretched all the way across the lake. It swept down across the race zone, causing 20 or so retirements and a great deal of angst from the racers, some of whom saw the anemometer record winds over 35 knots. For the 400 or so boats still racing to Bouveret, this gust brought hope of a having a more wind-assisted push towards the finish. Sadly for them, the storm only left a vague chop in its wake and that quickly subsided the race zone soon utterly devoid of wind once again.

The Toucans triumph in Class 3

The close battle between the Luthis and the Toucans finally went to the latter. Enaile skippered by Yves Tournier took victory at 2117 hours after a bitter struggle, the winner finishing in a mere breath of air ahead of another Toucan, Luc Munier's Aquatic. The Luthi 952 Tarangau Electronic Marine skippered by David Vulliez broke the Toucan monopoly to complete the podium.

Festival of sports boats

The Mumm 30s were led home by the seasoned crew of Ville de Genève-Carrefour Prévention who will defend the Swiss colours at the upcoming Tour Voile, which starts in Dunkirk at the end of June. Skipper Loïc Fuhrer worked hard over the winter with his crew and today he reaped the rewards of that effort by taking victory in Class 4 over another Mumm 30, that of the Frenchman Patrick Ducommun. The Farr designs managed to outwit the imposing fleet of Grand Surprises.

Thierry Chapatte, President of the Organising Committee summarised this year's race: "It is a rare moment that can be observed each year in the early morning, at the finish of the Bol d'Or Rolex. That spontaneous smile of satisfaction from the exhausted competitors comes as the horn sounds to celebrate their passage and they regain their enthusiasm and good humour. The magic happens again and again with each arrival. Added to this was the great experience of the breathtaking finish of the multihulls and the monohulls from Class 1; the suspense of the crowning of a highly successful 68th edition. Each year, we set the bar a little higher and our 80 volunteers try to equal the professionalism of our partner Rolex. This alchemy works really well and the Rolex team are unquestionably raising the standard here. As a result, we become a bit more demanding each year. In terms of safety for example, this year we had, in addition to the French and Swiss services, 20 safety boats which were able to intervene very effectively during the storm. The conviviality remains the key word in our organisation. The Rolex soirée on Friday was a complete success. The musical entertainment and the wall of video images were greatly appreciated. In this way we hope to perpetuate our event. The international opening is very important in this regard. We think that the Bol d'Or Rolex may become an 'obligatory' point of passage for a certain number of one design classes, like the Melges or the Mumm 30s. Loïck Peyron and Alain Gautier have also opened the door to professionals who with this regatta find the perfect way of expressing their ocean racing talents with our extraordinary multihulls. The Bol d'or Rolex is decidedly a good time had by all.".

Eris Out 95:

It has really set the tongues wagging since its arrival in Geneva. The Eris Out 95, the 'concept boat' thought up by two young British sailors Alex Ashworth Briggs and Neal Pawson came 60th in the general rankings. Its very small wetted surface area, swing keel and strange skirts, were doubtless an advantage when extracting itself from the light airs. The rotating wing mast, with its fully-battened mainsail leech, provide enormous power when sailing downwind. However, its designers are proudest of its supreme upwind performance, 34% faster than a Mumm 30 they say! Built by OOS, the Out 95 flirts with 25 knots downwind in calm waters so it's the ideal vessel for performing on European inland waters.

LOA: 9.57 m
Beam: 4.80 m
Draught: 2.13 m
Displacement: 900 kg
Ballast: 360 kg
Crew: 5 or 6 sailors
Upwind surface: 56 m2
Downwind surface: 130 m2

Rendez-vous in June 2007

The 2006 version of the Bol d'Or Rolex comes to a close. Congratulations to the champions, at the end of a colourful, suspense-filled sporting spectacle. A fleet of 565 boats entered the race on Saturday morning. Of those, 327 had crossed the finish line when the race officially closed at 4.00 pm on Sunday afternoon. From Coutts to Peyron, Gautier to Ravussin, along with all the many Corinthian racers, Lake Léman (Geneva) has been rich in emotion, magic and the simple pleasures of sailing. All that remains is to wait patiently for the next edition in June 2007.

Provisional results:

1- 15:56:49 SUI 200 TILT Alex Schneiter /Patrick Firmenich
2-16:09:49 SUI 1 TAILLEVENT II Nicolas Engel
3-16:50:19 GBR 2436R FULL PELT Jo Richards

1- 18:17:59 SUI 6666-MISS TFY Valiton
2-19:23:42-SUI 1-CORNALINE Della Casa
3-19:41:51-EUR 99-KICK ASSO Syfrig

1- 21:17:12-SUI 83-ENAILE Yves Tournier
2-21:19:23 SUI 82-AQUANAUTIC Luc Munier
3-21:24:02-SUI 952- TARANGAU ELECTRONIC MARINE David Vulliez

1-20:16:20-SUI 304-OLYMPIC Jérôme Clerc
2-20:17:19-FRA 18301-L'UNIQUE Patrick Ducommon
3-21:23:43-SUI 006-CHANTIER NAVAL VIDY Eric Meyer

1-21:37:00-SUI 1525-POOPY EXPRESS Richard Milliquet
2-22:38:42-SUI 62- TEAM X-YACHTS TEAM Eugen Munz
3-23:13:49-SUI 81-EPSILON Marc Béné

1-25:10:12-FRA 35-PRO YACHTING Philippe Seguret
2-25:27:33-SUI 96-Scoubidou SCOUBIDOU Martial Bugnon
3-25:31:22-SUI 595-MAYER OPTICIEN Jean Pascal Chatagny

1-26:11:43-SUI 1-LÈONARD Jean Claude Rey
2-27:34:38-Z 5-CANIOS Jean Matthys
3-27:36:04-SUI 1008-MAURABLIA Gilbert Poujoulat

1-20:07:48-SUI 91-MOVE YOUR IMAGE Philippe Schiller
2-21:09:44-AET-TEAM AET Antoine Ravonel
3-21:39:36-SUI 131-CORIACE Régis Rousselle

1-11:45:20-SUI 8-BANQUE GONET Russell Coutts
2-11:47:38-SUI 3-JULIUS BAR Philippe Cardis
3-11:49:35-SUI 2-OKALIS Nicolas Grange

1-12:03:08-SUI 7-TEAM NEW WAVE Bertrand Geiser - Christophe Stamm
2-12:06:32-SUI 17-TILT Charles FAVRE
3-12:07:05-SUI 11-DFI-CQFD André Guggiari

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