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14 June 2005, 11:16 am
Slowest Race For 22 Years
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Bol d'Or Rolex 2005
Geneva, Switzerland

In a super performance given the conditions in Switzerland, French multihull racing star Loick PEYRON (FRA) at the helm of Nicolas GRANGE's orange catamaran Okalys took line honours in the 67th Bol d'Or Rolex. GRANGE's Decision 35 took the lead off Lausanne en route to the turning mark and half point of the course at Bouveret and clung on to it to take line honours by a comfortable 55 minutes from Philippe CARDIS' earlier leader Ferrier Lullin.
In Classe ACVL 1, the largest monohull class the first four finishers were all the extreme Sebastien SCHMIDT-designed Psaros 40s each featuring a canting keel, water ballast and six crew on the trapeze. The racing was a lot less clear cut here with the yellow Syz & Co rounding the turning mark at Bouveret first, only to drop to last of the four by the time they reached the finish line. The monohull elapsed time winner ended up being Oyster helmed by sail maker Jean-Marc MONNARD.

For Eric DELAYE, Oyster's owner, victory was all the sweeter having broken several ribs in an accident just over a month ago and still being in some pain. They had got off to a bad start and at one point were 45 minutes to an hour astern of the leading group. However they got back into contention off Lausanne and by the turning mark at Bouveret they were just five minutes astern of Syz & Co. On the return run they benefited from being on the south side of the lake, enabling them to take the lead, crossing the line just over three minutes at ahead of Tilt.

Since last year when they finished last DELAYE said they have made several changes to the boat. 'We changed the design of the sails, because last year I had this boat with very old sails and I realized that the sails of Tilt were a little bit big for me when the wind was seven to eight knots. We designed, with Jean-Marc MONNARD, something more compact and we have a smaller sail area. And I asked MONNARD if he was okay to join and I was out for a month, so he ran the crew and the team and he is a really good sailor.'

The 67th Bol d'Or Rolex will be remembered as being the slowest in the recent history of the race. While the multihull and monohull records for the 93 nautical mile course stand at 5 hours, 1 minute and 8 hours, 45 minutes respectively, this year Okalys finished in a pedestrian 16 hours, 29 minutes and 43 seconds, while Oyster came in just before 0600 hours local time in 20 hours, 56 minutes and 37 seconds. Okalys' time is the slowest since the race was won by MA SCHIESS' trimaran Holly Smoke in 1983. 'I think around 300 boats have abandoned,' admitted President of the Race Organization Jean-Loup GABAYET.

PEYRON said he was happier at lunchtime today than he had been when Okalys had arrived ready to drop from exhaustion in the early hours this morning. In the fluky conditions 'with the wind coming from everywhere' PEYRON said they had benefited from not being in the lead, when they saw Ferrier Lullin and Alinghi fall into a big wind hole ahead of them. Chasing the breeze to the south, they gained the lead and tenaciously hung on to it even when the wind died completely on the run into the turning mark at Bouveret, rounding nine minutes ahead of the 2004 winner Etienne DAVID on Axiom.

From there Philippe CARDIS on Ferrier Lullin took over second place and PEYRON said it was a case of 'controlling them'. However this proved hard. 'There was a westerly wind off Evian and we saw the last monohull coming towards us under spinnaker as we were sailing towards it under gennaker - so one of us needed to do something.' Last night the westerly breeze restarted the race for the smaller monohulls, 200 boats all under spinnaker in a line that spanned the width of Lake Geneva. Going into this transition Okalys was 50m ahead, but heading for the south (French) side of the lake they were first to reach the new breeze and this is what allowed them to extend their lead.

'I am very impressed by winning the Bol d'Or Rolex,' said PEYRON. 'It is a huge event and there are a lot of very good skippers who have previously won it. We did a good job and in all parts of the game we were very very efficient.'

Event Media. Image, Winner, Okalys:© Daniel Forster/ROLEX
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