Development boat heaven
Numbers are down for this year's Bol d'Or Mirabaud presented by Corum, from 511 last year to 46,6 but the quantity of 'interesting' boats taking part in Switzerland's biggest sailing event, if anything, has increased.
Among the multihulls, centre piece as ever are the D35 and smaller M2 classes. In the former nine boats are competing in the key event of their annual championship, the Vulcain Trophy presented by Business & Decision. The question is - which Bertarelli will win this year, or will they give someone else a chance? Victor last year was Ernesto aboard Alinghi, while the previous year it was sister Dona on Ladycat. This year's results to date don't help as both Ladycat and Alinghi are tied on equal points, but significantly at present they are both trailing the young crew of Jerome Clerc on Realstone Sailing, leader of the championship after four events.
The D35 catamarans race in the 'M1 class' but alongside them this year are several interesting newcomers. There is Comptoir Immobilier, skippered by Jean-Christophe Mourniac. This is an SL33, the Morrelli & Melvin designed catamaran built by Hakes Marine, which Emirates Team New Zealand have been using for their training in New Zealand. Then there is Gregor Stimpfl’s Marstrom 32 catamaran, Hägar III and from the Netherland, Marco Collette’s Q-Cat 9GT and the Ventilo M1 Zenith Fresh! helmed by Oliver Backes. This is an unprecidented collection of 30 something foot multihull-ware, although some, such as the Q-Cat, which haven't been built for the lake and its super-light conditions, look decidedly underpowered.
The Marstrom 32 being assembled
Above: The Q-Cat next to an M2
One owner not entirely happy to have ended up in the M1 class is Philippe Schiller with his radical solid wing powered Pi28 foiler, Gonet & Cie. If you imagine this as being like a modified version of Thomas Jundt's Mirabaud LX or a large Moth, then unquestionably the Pi28 is a monohull. But as instead of straightforward racks she is fitted with curved beams that terminate in a very low buoyancy float - the end result looking very much like a trimaran - the race committee of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud has deemed the Pi28 to be a multihull.
Among the monohulls, the usually dominant Psaros 40s, Syz & Co and Oyster Funds are under threat this year. For being allowed back into the Bol d'Or (after it rudely beat everyone in three consecutive races over 1996-1998, is the monsterous Libera class boat, now Hungarian-owned, called Raffica. Also to watch will be the ultra-narrow Quant 28, which is fitted with Hugh Welbourn's Dynamic Stability System, that develops righting moment from a lateral retracting foil (more about this here)
The Bol d'Or Mirabaud sets sail at 1000 tomorrow with its usual twin lines, one for multihulls, another for monohulls. As usual the boat will race the length of the lake before rounding a turning mark at Le Bouveret before returning to Geneva - roundly 75 miles. The race this year will feature live tracking.