Erik Maris’ TF35 Zoulou won the first Lake Geneva classic of the season just ahead of Alinghi.
A somewhat crazy race with winds blowing in all directions. And in the end, it is not Alinghi who wins but Zoulou of the French Erik Maris. The Genève-Rolle, 56th of the name, marked the great return of long-distance Lake Geneva regattas after a blank year. Impatient, the Lake Geneva racers rushed to the start of this repeat of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud. 210 registered boats met on Saturday at the stroke of 13 hours off the Square Tower. A nice grain came to pick the impatient at the crossing of the starting line. A bit as if nature also wanted to mark the occasion and signify its return to business.
Rain, wind, gray lightss, it did not take more for the show to be grandiose. From the outset, the TF35s stood on theirs foils to fly towards Rolle at more than 20 nœuds. In the melee, Alinghi almost lost everything. Surprised by a more assertive laugh, the catamaran barred by Ernesto Bertarelli passed two fingers away from the catastrophe. «I imagine that you were able to take some great photos and that we will see them in the newspaper, will launch with a playful tone the most successful skipper of Lake Geneva, finally happy to finish second. We were hot and it turned out to be nothing.»
It took a very responsive crew, who climbed the net to counterbalance, so that Alinghi’s day didn’t end after less than a minute of racing. Despite this heatstroke, Ernesto Bertarelli kept a cool head for most of the race. He believed he had made the difference on the return to Geneva by letting go of the horses. The new Lake Geneva racing beasts have not missed their grand debut in long-distance races. The TF35s easily took the measure of the D35 still present and the M2.
It only takes a few well-exploited take-offs for significant differences to emerge. But in the transition zones and «the springs», the TFs and their immense foils, which are permanently submerged, have revealed some weaknesses. It is not impossible that on a Bol d’Or, the task will be more complicated with the many windless areas of the Haut-Lac and a passage at Bouveret where it is possible to lose very big.
In the meantime, we have to admit that the new Lake Geneva foilers are quite magical when they roll mechanics. They swallowed this Genève-Rolle-Genève in 3 h 27’ 33”. A brilliant chrono signed Zoulou which appeared shortly after Nyon to take the lead in front of Alinghi and not to let go of his bone despite constant pressure from the men in red and black. Erik Maris, a true foiling specialist, managed the last legs perfectly to relegate Alinghi to more than two minutes. And it was Spindrift who completed the podium. First to pass the Rolle buoy, Yann Guichard and his crew lost a few feathers on the return. Like Alinghi, they will be thirsty for revenge on the Bowl.
Far behind the TF35, the other classes fought to win against their peers. In M2, «Swiss Medical Network» dominated the race in just under four hours (3 h 59’ 52”). The podium is completed by «Heritage» and «Wize by TeamWork». The first monohulls, them, sont arrived in the early evening. The first of them, “TBS”, the Psaros 40 of François Thorens, crossed the line at 6.30 pm with more than 20 minutes ahead of his runner-up, the astonishing “Geneva 18 Footer Sailing Team”, an 18 footer. Australian led by Cyril Peyrot and two teammates only. Third monohull, Katana, a Luthi 1090 by Philippe de Weck. Thomas Jundt and his brand new QFX prototype finished at the foot of the podium. This ultralight monohull confirms that even without being able to use its foils, it is already formidable. Watch out for him on a windier Bowl …
In the different classes, the fight was fierce and we felt that after more than a year of frustration, the Lake Geneva crews had their fangs. Among the Surprises, still the most numerous, the victory went to “Velasco, du Léman à L’Océan”, skippered by Arnaud Machado in 6:18 ‘. A final knife with Thierry Campiche (“Adrenaline les deux rives”), second at 1min 15 ”. In Grand Surprise, “Little Nemo 2” won 26 seconds in front of a duet, “Morpho” and Apsara “, separated by only twelve seconds! In Psaros 33, now with a sufficiently large fleet to deserve a full category, Luc Munier’s success on “Carpediem cube”.
AT Finally, note that the sport catamarans also had the right of citizenship on this classic. On a shortened course, with a buoy in Versoix, the victory went to the experienced Alex Schneiter and Kris Jonsson, skilful as monkeys on their Flying Phantom «Tilt».