Competition was intense from start to finish for Ladycat powered by Spindrift racing and the 464 competitors in the 81st edition of the Bol d’Or. This intensity was accentuated by the myriad of weather conditions: from lights winds towards Le Bouveret and a sudden, vicious storm on the return leg to Geneva. A storm of such violent proportions that racing had to be suspended for a period of time. Despite the difficult conditions, Yann Guichard and his teammates showed resilience and skill, and took Ladycat to her fourth victory in this legendary race, after 10 hours, 36 minutes and 21 seconds of racing.
At 10am the Bol d’Or Mirabaud's fleet of 465 boats made a slow start to the 66.5 nautical mile course in the light airs. Completing the first part of the course at low speed and in fifth place, Yann Guichard and his crew reached the entrance to the lake in second place, having read the shifts well, and sailing to the French side of the lake at the mid-point. Their position in the leading group meant they were able to take a more strategic position, and took the lead as the fleet approached the barge at Le Bouveret. Despite passing this mark of the course at relatively low speeds, they were still more than 30 minutes ahead of the second-placed Realteam Sailing.
With Le Bouveret behind them, the black and gold catamaran kept its advantage and was by the French shore as the storm broke. Although expected, the storm was far more violent than anticipated. The disruption that it wreaked on the fleet meant that several competitors had to slow right down for a period of time, before resuming the race at the level of Evian-Les-Bains. Despite significant changes in wind shifts and intensity, Yann Guichard and his crew were able to maintain their lead after the storm, which had seen up to 57-knot gusts, hail and rain. As the team returned, Ladycat parried sustained attacks by Ylliam Comptoir and Alinghi, right up to the finish line. However, the team remained relentlessly focused, and could deliver a final victory for the catamaran which has been at the heart of Dona Bertarelli’s team for many years.
"It's great to bring to a close Ladycat’s story, with a win in the Bol d'Or. And what a win! What an edition! We were in the game from start to finish, and had a good lead at Le Bouveret when the storm arrived. The storm was so powerful, so intense, and so sudden that we didn’t have time to breathe. At its height, we had to stop racing for about fifteen minutes. Our only objective was to not capsize or break anything, so that we would be able to restart when it passed over. At the return entrance into the small lake, Ylliam Comptoir and Alinghi came back very strongly, but we managed to stay ahead until we crossed the line. That is the beauty of the Bol d'Or: it’s never finished until you cross the line! Congratulations to all the team who kept the pressure up from start to the finish. They were unbelievable and François called some great tactic,” commented Yann Guichard on his arrival.
"It was a very intense race like all Bol d'Or races - always changing. We knew the storm was coming, and that it was going to be strong, but it came in really fast and for a time it was apocalyptic. From onboard the tender, I saw boats all around us dismasting and capsizing, and our thoughts are immediately with the crews, hoping that there are no injuries or worse. In all the years that I’ve sailed on this lake, I’ve never seen conditions like this, despite seeing a lot of storms. Even after the storm, the waves were impressive, really short with deep troughs. So, for Ladycat to finish her season in these conditions, in her last year and for the team to give me this victory, is a very emotional moment. I thank them and am very proud of them. I’m proud of the fact that in the thirteen years of taking part in this race, we’ve now won it four times! It’s a beautiful story that has now come to an end, and I look forward to starting a new story next year, with a new boat and new adventures,” added Dona Bertarelli.