Offshore racing

Bol d’Or Mirabaud - Multihulls: the generation war

Create a notification for "Offshore racing"

A generation war was becoming apparent among the multihulls. Lake Geneva and its capricious conditions, ranging from very calm to very windy, have always been one of the driving forces motivating crews aiming for outright victory. Since 2004, the Decision 35s, the famous Lake Geneva racing beasts, have been the almost undisputed masters, winning every edition apart from the 2013 vintage, when they lost out to a series frequently seen in these waters, the Ventilo M2, which is in a way, the little sistership of the D35. Since last year, the overwhelming majority of D35 owners switched to foiling and have taken part in the development of the TF35, a new foiling catamaran that is meant to fly at around 30 knots yet also remain fast in light airs. For the first time in the history of the Bol d’Or Mirabaud, a match between Archimedean boats and foilers developed for the specific conditions of Lake Geneva was able to take place. Twelve Ventilo M2s, seven brand-new TF35s and two D35s were going to compete to see who could make the most of the whims of Lake Geneva. After several years in development, a huge question mark remained over the TF35s, disadvantaged by their foils in very light airs, only able to use their appendages in winds of six knots or more.

Are catamarans without foils faster in light airs? Yes, as long as the foilers aren’t actually flying... but it’s enough for them if they can fly over 20 to 25% of the course to have a chance to win. Here, on the left, Emil One, the first ranked D35.

The Lake Geneva conundrum

Feared by some, hoped for by others, the weather maps started to lean towards the idea of a pronounced calm period in the run up to the race. From then on, the days leading up to the race gave rise to all sorts of theories among the TF35 teams. Should they start with foils or C daggerboards? What sail configuration should be used? A large gennaker to boost performance below six knots, but again a handicap once the boat is in flying configuration? Nils Frei, an historic crew member of the Alinghi team confirmed these fears 24 hours before the start: “If there is a year that’s smiling on the Ventilo M2, it will be this year”, he said. For Bertrand Favre, Serie Master of the TF35s, the choice was also difficult, but the risks were well considered: “On paper, it’s clear that the TF35s are not as fast as the D35 when they aren’t foiling. We ran a lot of routing options based on all the data we’ve accumulated on the D35s over the years and concluded that to win, the TF35s would have to be foiling over about 20-25% of the course.” OK, challenge accepted. As the gun went off and despite the total lack of wind, all seven TF35s unanimously crossed the startline in foiling configuration.

Just off Geneva, monohulls and multihulls have separate startlines. The multihulls also have a clearing mark to round and a specific gate at the Bouveret Passage at the other end of the lake

Repeated twists and turns

It was notably under ...

Log in

Password forgotten ?


Subscribe to Multihulls World and get exclusive benefits.


Share this article