At the morning briefing for day three of the TF35 Geneva Cup, there was uncertainty as to whether the forecasted wind would hold on long enough to allow for a full racing schedule. However, with 10- 15 knots on the racecourse as the boats hit the water and the sun never quite managing to burn through the cloud cover during the afternoon, the breeze held on to allow five spectacular races.
Jérôme Clerc and his crew onboard Realteam Sailing were the top-scoring boat for the second day running. They continued their winning streak from yesterday by securing victory in the first race (race 8 in the series) with a clear five-boat-length lead over rivals Alinghi Red Bull Racing in second and Spindrift in third. Clerc repeated his success in the second race, leading the fleet from start to finish but this time with Nathalie Brugger, at the helm of Alinghi Red Bull Racing, consistently within touching distance in second place, while Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier pursued them closely in third.
Race two today was also a highlight for new team Ylliam 17, who made a strong start and flew across the line at full speed, keeping pace with Alinghi Red Bull Racing on the first beat. They only lost touch after the second beat and finished the race in fifth place.
"We have a very competitive crew," commented helm Julien Firmenich. "But we noticed today that the level is remarkably high. We thought we were sailing quite well to begin with, but unfortunately, we finished in the last place. It doesn't surprise us too much after less than ten days of sailing on the TF35; we still have a lot of work to do. But it's fun to occasionally be ahead and tease the leaders, who have been sailing these boats for some time. The development is also the charm of the adventure".
Yann Guichard, helm of Spindrift, agreed: "As new crew Ylliam 17 are doing very well; it's impressive to see Julien and his team in the mix at the front. The nice thing now is that the TF class is improving every year, allowing us to be in the fight in every race with every team. Even if Realteam had an advantage last year, the competition has tightened up. They are still ahead, but everyone else is progressing".
In today's third race, the narrative changed. Realteam Sailing got caught in traffic on the startline and was forced to manoeuvre around the fleet. Meanwhile Bertrand Demole's Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier and Guy de Picciotto's ZEN Too, with Loïc Forestier at the helm, found good pressure on the left side of the course and rounded the windward gate in first and second place. From there, the teams split on each leg but remained within meters of each other at every gate until the finish line, where Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier claimed the victory and ZEN Too secured second place.
Yann Guichard, at the helm of Spindrift, dominated the final two races of the day. The consistently performing young crew unexpectedly finished in sixth place in the second race but managed to climb from third to first ahead of rivals, Realteam Sailing, in race four to take the victory. They outpaced the fleet in the fifth race, securing the win with a three-boat lead.
"Today we had a difficult day, even if we ended up with two good victories," explained Guichard at the dock. "The first heats were tough, and we couldn't find the speed. After making two or three minor adjustments to the boat, it immediately became easier to steer.
"When you have speed, it makes you smarter on the water, and so we managed to hold off our opponents, recover, and win the last two races. It's pretty cool to finish with two wins".
In the overall ranking going into the final day, Realteam Sailing holds an eight-point lead. However, the points are much closer behind them, with only 13 points separating second-placed Spindrift, third-placed Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier, and fourth-placed Alinghi Red Bull Racing.
The forecast for tomorrow's final predicts much less wind and will require a tactical approach from the teams.