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This weekend is the Bol d’Or sailing race. Speak to any Genevois over 40 and most of them have participated in the race at least once in their life. If you haven’t gone down to the lake on race morning to see the start, I recommend you go this year. It is a sight to behold. Over five hundred boats line up near Genève Plage before the start at 10:00 am.

If the wind is right, the gun goes off and the spinnakers unfold. The colors are magnificent. If the wind is non-existent, then you watch the boats slowly make their way 72 kilometers toward La Bouveret.  The D35 Catamarans are up front, the family boats in the back while the competitive Grand Surprises, Toucans and Esses make up the middle. The beauty of the race is that the winds on lac Leman are unpredictable.

The first race my husband entered was in 2009. It is still on record as the slowest race since the Bol d’Or’s inception in 1939. The boats barely moved against the pull of the Rhone. The winners, who are not used to all-nighters, came in at 5:33 am. Only 64 boats crossed the finish line by Sunday evening. 2011, on the other hand, was extremely exciting and nerve-racking with storms rolling through the area pounding rain and wind across the lake day and night. I didn’t sleep well wondering if my husband and friends were sailing or swimming. The Alinghi team won its first D35 catamaran victory at a record speed of 6 hours and 25 minutes. I happened to be at the Société Nautique when they moored their boat. I still chuckle about a woman in her 80s who kept yelling “Ernesto, je t’aime! Je t’aime!”

Photo by Eyemage /The Daily Sail.

Photo by Eyemage /The Daily Sail.

Last year winds were high again with a constant bise. Lady Cat cruised to a beautiful finish in 5 hours and 38 minutes. The waves were the big challenge as we watched two catamarans capsize less than 300 meters from the finish line.

Photo © Chris Schmid / Spindrift racing.

Photo © Chris Schmid / Spindrift racing.

The race starts at 10:00 and only the Venti know when it will finish. You can find more information about the program here and follow the race online using the links embedded in their website. We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/

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