The thoroughbreds are back on Lake Geneva. From May 9 to 11, the Société Nautique de Genève will hold the fourth edition of the Grand Prix Les Ambassadeurs, the opening event of the Vulcain Trophy. In 2014, the Ladycat of Dona Bertarelli will compete for the eighth consecutive year in the championship for the Decision 35 catamarans. Due to a busy schedule, including preparation for the North Atlantic record on Spindrift 2, Bertarelli is handing the helm to Yann Guichard this weekend to defend the colours of the Spindrift racing team and its partners: Mirabaud, Genes-x and Zenith.
With all the complex driving, tuning and manoeuvring, the D35 require perfect precision and are unforgiving rides. "It's always a pleasure to take part in this very high quality tour, I am really pleased to be competing,” Guichard, who has a lot of experience in the Olympic Tornado class, the Extreme 40 and in the AC45s, said. “With the parallel preparations for sailing on the maxi trimaran Spindrift 2, I wanted to have some full-contact competition and race in a small multihull. I’ve often been the tactician on the D35, but this will be the first time that I have helmed in a Grand Prix. But on Ladycat, I know that I have the support of experts who I have complete confidence in."
In the highly competitive environment of the D35 circuit, Bertarelli and Guichard chose to go into this season with sailors who also sail on Spindrift 2. "Our logic is that spending time together on various different boats can strengthen our bonds and team spirit," Bertarelli, said. "I will not be present for the first two D35 Grand Prix. Given our ambitious sports program this year, I have not been training on Ladycat in this season. You can’t just improvise on the helm of a D35, it’s a very demanding boat that needs sustained preparation and is part of a very high-level circuit. We want results on each of the boats, which is why I have to prioritise my preparation. Over the next few weeks we have the team workouts on Spindrift 2 and that is taking up most of my time with the standby for the North Atlantic record fast approaching. But I will follow very closely all the races of the Spindrift racing team on Ladycat."
So, for this Grand Prix, Xavier Revil and François Morvan are on mainsail and tactics respectively. Jacques Guichard and Erwan Israël will tune the headsails and Christophe Espagnon will look after the bow. "We are a hardcore of four 'Tornadistes' with good knowledge of the D35’” Guichard says. “My brother has also sailed in the championship for several seasons and though this is Erwan’s first season with Ladycat he has great experience of match racing and racing in general. He will be our navigator offshore for the records on Spindrift 2.”
A high speed
With a dozen ‘banana-shaped’ windward-leeward racecourses over the three-day programme, the first Grand Prix will set the tone of the season. "We expect the level of the fleet to go up a notch because there are some very well-prepared teams,” Guichard says. “We are behind them with our training and so we’re going into this season with some humility but we are ambitious because we come with experience and a strong team ethic. These catamarans are extreme and you can’t just aim to get things nearly right. The D35 is a great boat, but it can stop suddenly and even dig in and flip in certain conditions. You have to set up right at all times and good communication on board is essential."
Ladycat powered by Spindrift racing team for the Grand Prix Les Ambassadeurs
Yann Guichard, skipper
François Morvan, tactician
Xavier Revil, mainsail
Erwan Israël, headsail trimmer
Jacques Guichard, headsail trimmer
Christophe Espagnon, bowman
Click here for the team sailing page
D35 CIRCUIT CALENDAR FOR THE 2014 SEASON
May 9-11: Grand Prix Les Ambassadeurs – SNG
May 24-25: Open de Crans - Crans-près-Céligny
June 7: Genève-Rolle-Genève - Yacht Club de Genève
June 8-9: Open de Versoix - Club Nautique de Versoix
June 14: Bol d’Or Mirabaud - SNG
August 30-31: Open Nationale Suisse - Club Nautique de Versoix
September 6-7: Grand Prix Grange & Cie - Yacht Club de Genève
September 19-21: Grand Prix SNG - SNG
THE VULCAN TROPHY
Organised by the Association des Multicoques de Compétition (AMC), the Vulcain Trophy, is a regatta circuit featuring Decision 35 (D35) multihulls. The circuit combines two race formats: firstly, traditional Lake Geneva races: the Genève-Rolle-Genève and the famous Bol d'Or Mirabaud; and secondly the other six Grands Prix, held exclusively for the Decision 35, during which the teams compete over a succession of relatively short rounds, lasting 25-30 minutes each.
The teams sail on strictly identical boats, D35 multihulls, which combine high performance and technology. This one-design rule allows sailors to compete on equal terms and to showcase their skill and expertise.
The teams are composed of the best specialist racers on Lake Geneva, as well skippers and sailors of international renown. This combination of local and world-class talent gives the Vulcain Trophy its unique character.