The 76th edition of the legendary Bol d'Or Mirabaud, seen as the holy grail of the Vulcain Trophy and the one-design D35 catamaran circuit, will start tomorrow, Saturday, at 1000hrs (Swiss time) on the shores of Lake Geneva. Dona Bertarelli, The 2010 winner on Ladycat and the first woman to have won the race, will be back at the helm this weekend. The team on board Ladycat, in the colours of Spindrift racing and their partners, will be giving everything to be at the front and go for a double win (of the race and the D35 class). More than 500 participants are expected on the two startlines with one line dedicated to monohulls and the other to multihulls (including the D35). As she waits for this keenly anticipated start, Bertarelli gives us her thoughts on the race.
This is your first race of the season, you’re back at the helm of the D35, how has the training gone? Are you ready?
I’m as ready as one can be for a long-distance race like the Bol d'Or Mirabaud, where you are never safe from sudden surprises. I was able to train a few hours on Thursday and Friday in very light wind - so we know there’s going to be a north wind now…
What emotions does crossing Lake Geneva by boat evoke?
In the strong winds that are forecast for Saturday, there is no time to enjoy the scenery and the moment. Everything happens very fast and you either take control of the race and then keep watching your speed and those pursuing you, or you fall behind and work to come back through the fleet boat by boat. It's a relentless sprint to the finish line and in the Bol d'Or Mirabaud anything can happen.
What are your thoughts on the first four grand prix of the season and Ladycat’s ranking?
We made a good start to the season. Last weekend we went from leading to fifth in the overall standings. That is disappointing but there are reasons for it beyond just performance. Arriving at the grand prix the morning after delivering the maxi Spindrift 2 in Newport was not ideal, but now we’ll do everything we can to get the lost places back. The race for the podium is still open.
Is having already won the Bol d’Or Mirabaud extra pressure?
No, the opposite, it’s less pressure. And actually, wearing the colours of the our partner, the Mirabaud bank, in a race that bears their name is extra motivation.
What do you like about the Bol d'Or Mirabaud?
The difficulty of the race and that there are always lots of twists.
What is the greatest strength of your team on the Bol d'Or Mirabaud?
We’re really cohesive and professional, skilled and well-trained with a great desire to do well.
What is different about the Bol d'Or Mirabaud compared to other D35 regattas?
We sail all season in D35 grand prix on windward-leeward courses around cans. There are only two times in the season where we have the chance to do long-distance races and the Bol d'Or Mirabaud is the longest and hardest.
What are the hurdles on the Bol d'Or Mirabaud racecourse?
The Bol d'Or Mirabaud is not only about sailing against the other ten D35, but also against other multihulls and 500 participants. The biggest hurdle is the size of the race. So, making good start is essential. Then there is a first mark to starboard off Versoix. At Le Bouveret, the cards are often shuffled by a lack of wind in the area and it’s like a new start to the race. Leaving Le Bouveret to return to Geneva you have to negotiate the wind transition in the Upper Lake. Then it’s a sprint to the Little Lake, where the cards can be shuffled again by the thermal winds or storm systems, depending on the arrival time. There are lots of incredible turnarounds that happen a few miles from the finish.
Will you watch your competitors closely or sail your own race?
We’ll sail our own race because we’re all very close in points and it’s impossible to 'cover' multiple direct competitors in a long-distance race such as the Bol d'Or Mirabaud.
Is always a pleasure sailing on a 35-footer after sailing on a 131-footer (Spindrift 2)?
Yes, the D35 is a beautiful boat. It’s fast, responsive, it flies and above all, it’s very technical. It’s a one-design on which the talent of the crew is what makes the difference.