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Sails of Change 8 wins 85th Bol d'Or Mirabaud

by TF35 Trophy 15 Jun 17:08 PDT 15 June 2024

Sails of Change 8 have proved themselves as masters of the long-distance race in a TF35, winning the 85th Bol d'Or Mirabaud in 6h22m24s after winning the Geneve-Rolle-Geneve last weekend.

"I'm thrilled to have won this race. It's my third Bol d'Or Mirabaud, and our racing team's fifth in fourteen editions, so it's great," said helm Yann Guichard. "It was a great race, fast, strategic and intense. We fought until the last minute. We've won the Bol d'Or and the Geneve-Rolle; it's a full house and a good feeling."

In contrast to the previous three light-aired editions of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud, the forecast for today's race was tantalisingly positive. Southwesterly, 12-15knots to start the day getting up to 18-20knots with the chance of a transition to an easterly wind at the end of the lake and then back to southwesterly on the way back to Geneva. The record for the 123-kilometre (66.5 nautical miles) course of 5h01m has been held since 1994 by the trimaran Triga IV, and there was a whisper on the dock that, given the forecast, the record might be up for grabs today.

On the morning of the race the six TF35s lined up with more than 400 boats and 3500 crew on the Société Nautique de Genève start line. In the 8-10knot breeze, the TF35s were on foils as the start cannon sounded and quickly clocked 25knots of boat speed as they ran down the lake. Guy de Picciotto's ZEN Too led the fleet for the first 30 minutes to the exit of the Petit Lac when Ylliam 17 edged ahead, sailing full speed down the centre of the lake with the five other TF35s in hot pursuit. Realteam Sailing touched a top speed of 33knots as the race timer ticked over one hour, and the fleet careered past Evian.

But then, as should be expected of Lake Geneva, at 1h 32m into the race, as the TF35 fleet passed Meillerie on the French side of the lake; the wind disappeared, the TF35s ground to a halt, and any ideas of breaking the record were soon forgotten as the teams full focus went on how to keep their boats moving.

Though the light patch was expected, the size of it was not, as Realteam Sailing's owner Esteban Garcia explained: "This transition was clear from the start. We tried to manage it as best we could, but every time we pass Bouveret it's the same thing, there's very little wind. The aim is always to concentrate as much as possible, sail as well as possible, enjoy ourselves and try to match the other boats. That's what we managed to do. We came first in to Bouveret. But that doesn't mean anything, especially for the Bol d'Or. When you're first, you have the challenge of setting the route, and if you get stuck in a phase with less wind, that allows the other competitors to see where you shouldn't go. That's what happened today."

It took the TF35s an hour to delicately creep forward the final 11km to the Bouveret.

In the short downwind hop from the clearing bouy to the turning barge, Sails of Change 8 managed to pull themselves from sixth to third overall behind Realteam and second-placed Ylliam 17. But it was a struggle to stay with the pack in the light breeze, confessed trimmer François Morvan: "We got a bit stalled, and it cost us dearly for a while, but when the wind came back, we managed to fly with the easterly wind and get back in contact just before switching back to the upwind with the southerly."

From Evian, the boats were back in the 14knot southwesterly breeze and sailing upwind at 19+ knots towards Geneva. Strong throughout the whole race, Julien Firmenich, at the helm of Ylliam 17, again had the lead, but this time with Sails of Change 8 and Realteam as their primary challengers. "We tried to tighten up on the left until we overtook Ylliam 17. Once we were in front, we dug in on them, but Realteam Sailing came back very strongly. We tried to stay constantly between the finish line and Realteam. We didn't make any mistakes; the plan worked well," said Sails of Change 8 tactician Noé Delpech.

In the final stage of the race, Sails of Change 8 held a slim lead over second-placed Realteam, and Ylliam 17 was close behind in third. But as they approached the finish line with meters to go, a tactical move from Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier to stay further to the left and tack earlier meant they had enough of a speed advantage to overtake and claim third, putting Ylliam 17 into fourth. ZEN Too finished in fifth, and Sails of Change 10 unfortunately did not finish.

After the prize-giving, Guichard admitted, "With an unstable wind, we're always at the limit. We weren't far from capsizing at the moment of transition. The team did a great job." Delpech added, "We've had a pretty exceptional first half of the season with a new team, and the chemistry went down really well."

The next event for the TF35 Trophy is the Les Voiles de Choisi, over the 30 August - 1 September. To find out more visit tf35.org

TF35 Bol d'Or Mirabaud Results:

1. Sails of Change 8 (SUI 8)
2. Realteam Sailing (SUI 7)
3. Ylliam XII—Comptoir Immobilier (SUI 12)
4. Ylliam 17 (SUI 17)
5. ZEN Too (SUI 4)
6. Sails of Change 10 (SUI 10)

TF35 Trophy Overall Ranking 2024:

1. Sails of Change 8 (SUI 8) - 1 2 1 - 4pts
2. Realteam Sailing (SUI 7) - 2 1 2 - 5pts
3. Ylliam XII—Comptoir Immobilier (SUI 12) - 3 5 3 - 11pts
4. ZEN Too (SUI 4) - 4 3 5 - 12pts
5. Sails of Change 10 (SUI 10) - 5 4 6 - 15pts
6. Ylliam 17 (SUI 17) - 6 6 4 - 16pts

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