A superb opening day for the 2023 TF35 season, hosted this week by the esteemed Société Nautique de Genève, saw different teams come to the fore, with Bertrand Demole's Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier winning the day with an impressive 1-3 scoreline, and Nathalie Brugger at the helm of the all-new youth crew onboard Alinghi Red Bull Racing paving their way to potentially becoming this year's underdogs.
The conditions on Lake Geneva today were typical for spring, with a shifty 7-knot La Bise (north wind) building to 13 knots over the afternoon. Yesterday's high winds left a leftover chop, providing a biting spray for the crews onboard the hydro-foiling TF35s.
After a few rounds of practice starts to ensure everyone was warmed up, the umpires were on their toes, and the teams had the measure of the competition, the fleet was into official racing by 15:00 CET.
In race 1, Bertrand Demole's Ylliam Sailing Team - Comptoir Immobilier performed a textbook pin end start in clear air, headed to the right-hand corner on the first beat, rounded the windward mark ahead, and led the fleet to the finish line. "It was a nice surprise to win the first race, a good omen for the rest of the season," Demole explains ashore. "We've trained well and worked a lot on the boat, which is now sailing fast. We have tried to keep the team as stable as possible across the seasons; this really is the key to success."
However, Ylliam Sailing Team - Comptoir Immobilier was not unchallenged in the race.
Alinghi Red Bull Racing was the only team to take the starboard tack off the start in race 1. The all-new crew led by helm Nathalie Brugger sailed their own course and rounded the windward gate within seconds of TF35 heavyweights Realteam Sailing. Brugger pulled into second on the first downwind leg, only to lose it to Spindrift at the leeward gate. However, Brugger found more pressure closer to shore on the second beat, crossed ahead of Spindrift and held on to her second-place position to the finish line. Not bad for a young crew that has only sailed together a handful of times.
"The goal was to make it easy and avoid too many mistakes," admitted Brugger. "We are a young crew with less strength and fewer hours onboard this boat compared to some of the other teams, but the feeling onboard is great. It's a fun boat, and we want to learn from the others, so we are trying to match our speed and observe what they do to help us improve.
In race 2, Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier again won the pin end, setting themselves up for a good race. However, it was Jérôme Clerc's experienced crew who outpaced the fleet. In a display of pure speed, the closing meters of the final race turned into a drag race between Realteam and Spindrift, with Clerc's team making the cross and taking the win, followed by Spindrift in second and Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier in third.
At the end of day one Ylliam XII - Comptoir Immobilier tops the overnight leaderboard with Realteam Sailing in second place, tied on points with Spindrift. Alinghi Red Bull Racing is a single point off the podium in fourth, with Ylliam 17 in fifth and ZEN Too in sixth.
Racing continues tomorrow with five races planned, starting at 11.30CET. Follow the live race coverage at www.tf35.org