Loick Peyron, Ellen MacArthur and Russell Coutts battle it out in top 10 at Bol d'Or on Lake Geneva earlier today
Those who race yachts regularly on Lake Geneva expect conditions to be generally light. As a result local boats have adapted into some of the most lightweight, high powered sailing craft afloat. However, today on the lake even this has not been enough to bring salvation for the 500 strong fleet of yachts competing in the 67th Bol d’Or Rolex.
Starting in Geneva this morning at 0900 local time and running the length of Lake Geneva to a turning mark off Bouveret before returning to Geneva, the Bol d’Or Rolex was, late this afternoon, turning into a record breaker – but for all the wrong reasons.
Rather than being merely light winds, this year’s race will be remembered for its almost complete lack of wind. While the 11-year-old record for the 93 nautical mile course stands at five hours one minute, this year the first boat arrived at the Bouveret turning mark – the halfway point in the course – after a painstaking nine hours. After nine hours in last year’s race the first boat were just mooring back in Geneva and 400 yachts had passed Bourveret and were on their way home.
Somehow ghosting along in a flat calm it was Loick Peyron at the helm of the Decision 35 catamaran Okalys that rounded the barge off Bouveret at the mouth of the Rhone river at 18:04 local time. She was followed at 18:13 by Axiom and two minutes later by the third Decision 35 Ferrier Lullin.
The third of the new breed of 28ft M2 catamarans, Banque Raiffeisen, rounded in the middle of the Decision 35 fleet at 18:25 in fifth place overall. Ellen MacArthur on board Guy de Picciotto’s Zen Too rounded in seventh at 18:30 ahead of Russell Coutts at the helm of Banque Gonet at 18:35.
Normally by the Bouveret turning mark the multihulls are miles ahead of the monohulls, but on this occasion the first monohull, the Psaros 40 Syz & Co, rounded just 41 minutes astern of the multihull leader.
“It has been a long time since the first roundings were this late,” admitted Alex Tournier Secretary General of the Bol d’Or Rolex’s organising club, the Societe Nautique de Geneve. “It is very difficult for all the boats and we think that all the people from Lausanne will go straight home.” Speaking from Geneva, Tournier said that there was a light southerly breeze blowing at his end of Lake Geneva. “We think that the return will be much much quicker,” he said.
The final deadline for finishing the Bol d’Or Rolex is 1400 local time tomorrow. For a majority of the fleet it will be a long night.
Bouveret mark roundings (local time)
1 – Okalys – 18:04
2 – Axiom – 18:13
3 – Ferrier Lullin – 18:15
4 – Banque Piguet – 18:20
5 – Banque Raiffeisen – 18:25
6 – Cadence – 18:26
7 – Zen Too – 18:30
8 – Banque Gonet – 18:35
9 – Syz & Co – 18:45
10 – Team Seven – 18:45
11 – Oyster – 18:50
12 – Star Logistique – 19:02
13 – French Connection – 19:20
14 – Alinghi – 19:21
15 – Flam Gestion – 19:35
16 – Full Speed Rayf’s – 19:35