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18 June 2007, 04:30 pm
Okalys Conquers Ahead Of Alinghi And Axiom
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Bol d'Or Mirabaud 2007
Geneva, Switzerland

Nicolas GRANGE's one-design catamaran Okalys, with Loïck PEYRON (FRA) at the helm, won of the 69th edition of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud in Switzerland ahead of Alinghi and Axiom. The stunning Psaros 40 Banque Syz & co won the monohulls class after a superb fight with Joe RICHARDS's (GBR) Full Pelt.
The competitors and the public will never forget the start of the 69th edition of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud. A lovely southwesterly flow started blowing minutes after the departure, propelling the 526 yachts under spinnaker towards what the locals call the big lake. An unforgettable sight!

The multihulls, who were starting on a separate starting line for the first time (for security reasons), rapidly took a comfortable lead as they blasted alongside Nyon, Morges, Rolle and their famous vineyards. But this was not to last and all the sailors who have experienced the Bol d'Or know that nothing is ever acquired before the finish line. Indeed, Alain GAUTIER and his catamaran Foncia, who had taken a perfect start and dominated the race since the beginning, suddenly fell in a windless hole by the town of Lausanne, watching helplessly as their competitors closed the gap.

In the monohulls class, RICHARDS and his Full Pelt super-light canting keel racer sailed an immaculate race until Lausanne before being overtaken by some of their bigger competitors. The halfway mark - a 200 tons barge moored at the upper end of the lake - witnessed several upsets. Indeed, Okalys, Alinghi, Ladycat, and several smaller M2 catamarans ended up completely stuck and unable to prevent some unwanted contact due to the current, luckily with no consequences.

At this stage, Foncia and several M2s had already rounded the mark and set sails towards Geneva. But they did not have regular conditions yet. Indeed, the wind was still well established on the westerly part of the lake but the question was how to reach it. The first boat to manage this would probably be the first to cross the arrival line.

'This was the decisive moment of the race,' commented PEYRON a few hours later. 'We managed this transition perfectly and managed to escape.'

A clear leader since the beginning of the race, GAUTIER remained stuck alongside the coast, watching helplessly as Okalys, Alinghi and Axiom gained speed and started building a huge gap. The race was over, and Okalys crossed the arrival line after 10 hours and 5 minutes of effort.

GRANGE, owner and co-skipper of Okalys, added, 'The Bol d'Or Mirabaud is a very difficult race to win. The lake is big and the transitions are difficult to manage. We have been quite lucky to manage to overtake Foncia, but we always believed we could and never gave up.'

The large crowed reassembled at the Société Nautique de Genève had to wait a long time until Banque Syz & co, the first monohull, finally crossed the line after 13 hours and 38 minutes of fine tuning. Banque Syz precedes Tilt, another Seb Schmidt Psaros 40 design and the 'old' French Connection Libera.

The race was far from over for the rest of the fleet. Indeed, 450 boats still had not crossed the mid-course mark at this stage. The southwesterly flow had completely disappeared, making space to very light thermal night breezes. Slowly and patiently, the hundreds of yachts and thousand of sailors managed to negotiate the light breezes, closing the gap with the arrival line and the big party organized to celebrate their arrivals throughout the night. A slow but beautiful Bol d'Or Mirabaud under the stars.

Bernard Schopfer (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The start of the race:© MaxComm Communication
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