Bertrand Demole’s crew has awarded itself a historic victory in the Bol d’or Mirabaud 2021. Indeed, it is the first winner on a foiling yacht.
Credit: Vincent Gillioz
Bertrand Demole approached this 82nd edition of the world’s biggest closed basin regatta with premonition. He said shortly before the start, “It’s going to be long at the beginning, with light airs. Then we’ll catch the breeze, glide on our foils towards Geneva and we’ll win.” Asked about his own words once he crossed the finish line, he simply noted with a touch of humour: “The boat is called Ylliam XII and it’s June 12. Besides, we were third in 2018, second in 2019… So we had to win this year!”
But this apparent confidence is just a nod to a victory snatched from the jaws of victory as they cross the finish line. Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier fought to the last second to win at the end of the 12 hours 49 minutes and 27 seconds the regatta lasted. Bertrand Demole’s crew won by 19 seconds over Zen Too, helmed by Fred Le Peutrec, and 25 seconds over Team Sailfever, helmed by Loïck Peyron. Alinghi crossed the line 9 seconds later, Realteam 14 seconds and Spindrift another 6 seconds later… the suspense lasted until the end and the winners can be proud to have held the pressure until the line.
Credits: Loris von Siebenthal
Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier and the other yachts in the leading group went through all the motions during this event to be classified as a long Bol. The start took place in very light conditions, which allowed the small M2 catamarans and the two D35s present to remind themselves that they were still real competitors in light airs. In fact, it was an M2 sailed by Olivier de Cocatrix who was the first to cross the Bouveret mark with a fifteen minute lead over the second. The first TF35 to pass the famous barge was Team Sailfever, in sixth place and 21 minutes behind the leader. Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier, meanwhile, showed up in front of the Valais port in 15th place almost an hour after the first.
But the expected and predicted breeze finally kicked in late in the day, and the TF35s were soon reminding the rest of the fleet of their superiority. The foilers crossed the big lake at over twenty-five knots, and made up the ground lost in the upper lake in an hour. The entrance to the small lake marked a new start for the competitors. The fleet was once again stopped in front of Yvoire, with TF35, M2 and D35. Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier was able to take advantage of his observation as he saw the M2s break away in a small reef.
As night fell, Zen Too chased very closely by Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier, and the rest of the fleet escaped, hoisted on their foils and at high speed, in a straight line to Geneva. Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier took the lead on the way, taking advantage of a brief wind hole for Zen Too, and held it to the end. The race was decided after a final gybe a few cables from the northern breakwater of the Société Nautique de Genève. A daring manoeuvre during which Bertrand Demole was able to keep his cool to win despite the pressure of the competitors.
Credits: Loris von Siebenthal
The Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier team has scored a historic victory in the flagship event on Lake Geneva. In 2019, we came first in the D35 class (second overall, behind Spindrift outside the D35 class),” recalled Bertrand Demole. And we won the first edition raced in TF35. It was a magnificent Bol d’Or. Erwan Israel, our tactician, did a remarkable job. The finish was really spectacular. We probably stole an hour and a half of the race. It didn’t seem like a Bol for foil boats. But in the end it was the TF35s that were ahead, stealing only 10% of the time. That’s proof that this boat is fantastic.”
Erwan Israel, meanwhile, recounted, “There were plenty of new starts and it was in Yvoire that we got an opportunity on land, with Zen Too and two M2s, whose trajectory we took inspiration from. Once we flew, a kind of highway opened up in front of us. It was absolutely magical. We’re going to remember that finish for the rest of our lives.”
Teva Plichart, for her part, noted how hard on the nerves this 82nd Bol d’Or was: “We were in front, then behind, then in front again. Everyone was coming together and then it was back to work. We had to stay concentrated for thirteen hours. It was a very nice Bowl, but a difficult one.”
Pierre Pennec, mainsail traveller trimmer, but also project manager could not hide his joy. “We’ve been sailing together for a long time with Bertrand and the rest of the crew. But this is the first year we’ve been with Erwan. He has already won the Bol d’Or, so we had to adapt to a new way of sailing. But it paid off. I have to congratulate Bertrand, who had a superb finish. Steering at night while flying, without electronics, is not easy. It’s incomparable with other sailing.”
Finally, Alexis Rochat, the only local crew member aboard the catamaran said, exhausted by the race and the emotion: “At each transition, we managed to position ourselves in the right place. It was very physical and the last gybe was crazy. I’m really happy with this performance, which salutes the work of the whole team.
I’m really happy with this performance.
For the rest; the crews will take a short and deserved summer break before resuming training, according to everyone’s respective schedules. The boats will then be dismantled and sent by container to Scarlino in Tuscany. The last two races of the 2021 season will be held there, between September 9 and 12, and then between September 23 and 26 for the final. With its victory in the Bol d’or Mirabaud, Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier is looking to pick up a few points between now and then, and try to gain a place in the overall standings.
Owner and helmsman: Bertrand Demole (SUI)
Tactician: Erwan Israël (FRA),
Mainsail : Thierry Briend (FRA)
Mainsail car : Pierre Pennec (FRA)
Forward crew: Alexis Rochat (SUI)
Foresail trimmer: Teva Plichart (THA)
Reserve crew, tender and replacement coach: Gaulthier Germain (FRA)
Coach: Hervé Cunningham (FRA)
Tender : Simon Vasseur (FRA)