Despite the light and shifty breeze forecast this morning for the opening day of the Realstone Cup for Leman hope, three, far from straightforward, races were sailed, resulting in three different race winners.
During this morning's skippers briefing, the TF35 teams prepared themselves for a long day under brilliant sunshine on Lake Geneva. "The lake is the lake, so we knew what to expect," explained Billy Besson from Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier. "The TF35 is specifically designed for these conditions, so there is a lot of sail onboard, allowing us to race when most other boats wouldn't be able to".
After a one-hour delay ashore, race one got underway at 13:00 CET in a 6-7 knot unstable northerly breeze. Realteam Sailing current tour leaders led from start to finish. However, Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier and ZEN Too found better pressure on the right-hand side of the course in the second half of the race and popped out ahead of the mid-fleet on the final run into the finish line, securing a close second and third place respectively.
For Loïc Forestier, the helm of ZEN Too, a third-place finish in race one was just what the team needed: "At the last event in Geneva, we felt frustrated that we couldn't sail as well as we had done in training. The results weren't doing us justice, but for this regatta, we have made some minor changes. We are already closer to the front of the fleet, which is our goal for the year. We are happy because the conditions were tricky, and it took a lot of effort to avoid making mistakes".
In race two, the breeze picked up as storm clouds rumbled in the north, allowing the TF35s to foil up and downwind momentarily. Spindrift, helmed by Yann Guichard was quickest into high mode taking the lead, outpacing Realteam Sailing and Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier to win the race.
"The second race was tough today because it was the point where the wind picked up, and the boats started flying," exclaimed Besson after the race. "Deciding whether to fly or not when the conditions are like this is tricky. It's not always beneficial when the wind is this light. You have to weigh up the angle and the speed because you give up a lot of your pointing ability when you fly. It was really hard to know whether you should push the boat."
In classic Lac Leman style, the wind vanished and reappeared an hour later, allowing for one final race. The start of race three was packed with excitement as the entire fleet jostled for position at the race committee's end of the line. Ylliam 17 was completely shut out, ZEN Too incurred a penalty as they crossed the line, and Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier timed it perfectly.
"Race three was one of our most beautiful races because we sailed quickly. We had a good start, tacked at the right time, and although it was very shifty, we kept the boat flying all the time, and it worked out perfectly," proclaimed owner and helmsman Bertrand Demole.
And his enthusiasm for the race is justified; not only did they execute a perfect start, but the team sailed so well that their lead on crossing the finish line was the entire final leg of the course, with the rest of the fleet barely rounding the windward gate.
"We were really happy with the last race. We took the win, but it was more than that," Beeson adds. "We decided to fly, but it was really hard to stay in that mode because the wind was shifty. Sometimes, I felt the boat directly drop and said to the guys, 'No, please, we have to try to stay up.' We sailed at 90 degrees to the target to fly as long as possible, and it worked."
Tomorrow the teams will participate in theGeneve-Rolle-Geneve long-distance race, the prologue to the renowned Bol d'Or Mirabaud. Follow the live race tracking at www.tf35.org.