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Sails of Change wins thrilling Bol dOr Mirabaud on Lake Geneva

by Sails of Change 16 Jun 02:01 PDT
Sails of Change wins thrilling Bol dOr Mirabaud © Adrien Nivet / Polaryse

Sails of Change has taken the team's fifth win in one of the most exciting recent editions of the iconic Bol d'Or Mirabaud on Lake Geneva.

Yann Guichard — co-founder with Dona Bertarelli of Sails of Change — and his crew on Sails of Change 8 constantly challenged for the lead on their way to victory, while the experienced Duncan Späth, Bertarelli's son, contributed to the family challenge as the newly appointed skipper helmsman of Sails of Change 10.

"We are absolutely delighted to have won our fifth Bol d'Or Mirabaud," said a smiling Guichard. "The crew did an amazing job — sailing these boats for over six hours is intense.

"The conditions were fantastic today for most of the time, and it was the best forecast we had seen for perhaps the past 10 years. There was an element of luck as we were in the right place at the right time around Evian and got the new southwesterly breeze first.

"Competition in the TF35 fleet is fierce. The Bol d'Or Mirabaud is a very special race and I am so pleased for the team and Sails of Change that we were able to be successful once again in this remarkable location in another incredible event."

Between them Bertarelli and Guichard had previously won the Bol d'Or Mirabaud on four occasions, in 2010 as Ladycat, and in 2014, 2016 and 2019 as Ladycat powered by Spindrift Racing, so a further double bid for the title was a natural progression.

"We are proud of our history in the Bol d'Or Mirabaud and this was our 17th participation as a team," said Bertarelli who has two wins to her name. "Yann and his crew put in a remarkable performance once again, and it was of course a very memorable moment to have Duncan taking part as skipper and helm after so many races as a valued crew member."

The two Sails of Change TF35 10m flying catamarans lined up with more than 400 yachts at the start of the 123km race on Lake Geneva. In contrast to the ultra-light conditions which had dominated recent years, the forecast for the 85th edition of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud promised good breeze from one end of the lake to the other, with at one point the course record of 5:01:50 set in 1994 looking under threat.

However, as Guichard observed before the start "anything can happen", and so it proved. After blasting off from the start line and hitting speeds of 30 knots on their way to the eastern end of the lake, the wind then went light near the rounding mark, turning a high-speed contest into a game of cat and mouse as the TF35s hunted down the breeze.

Once the wind returned it was a full-on race to the finish with Sails of Change 8 and Realteam Sailing swapping the lead several times, with Guichard ultimately crossing the line 1minute 20 seconds ahead in a time of 6:22:33. Earlier in the race Sails of Change 10 skippered by Duncan Späth had been in touch with the leading group. However, after more than six hours of close racing the crew of Sails of Change 10 were forced to retire for medical reasons.

Guichard and his crew on Sails of Change 8 — Noé Delpech, François Morvan, Bruno Mourniac, Adrien Mestre and Solune Robert — had gone into the Bol d'Or Mirabaud having won the opening event of the TF35 season, the Nyon Cup, ahead of Realteam Sailing.

The next event, the TF35 Mies Cup, saw the top-two swop places with Späth's Sails of Change 10 crew — Yann Jauvin, Xavier Revil, Pieter Tack, Jules Bidegaray and Thibault Julien — taking their first race win as a team to climb to fourth overall.

Then at last weekend's Geneve-Rolle-Geneve, Guichard and Sails of Change 8 again topped the class after a smart tactical call by the skipper saw them take victory in the final moments of the race and finish only a minute ahead of Realteam after 4 hours and 41m of racing. It was a big moment in the 60th edition of the classic event, which is often seen as a prologue to this weekend's Bol d'Or Mirabaud, which was to produce a similar result.

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