Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sailing Without Wind

One of my favorite past times while living in Montreux was going down to the harbour to watch the boat races on Lac Leman. Actually this could even be done while at home since our view of the water from the backyard was so spectacular. I used to sit out watching the boats for hours.

I also clearly remember seeing Alinghi on the water back in 2003 and was overly fascinated along with everyone around me.

The famous Bol d’Or regatta was a bit slow this year to say the least. Lack of wind made this the slowest race in nearly 50 years. Just how slow is slow? It took the 1st place team 19 hours, 33 minutes and 26 seconds to finish the race.

Montreux Switzerland Spring 2003

I'm imagining the course to look a bit like the above spring shot I took in 2003.

View of Lac Leman

June can bring rains and lots of winds but I'm fairly certain the summer suntanning weather wasn't exactly what the sailors had in mind for this race. You can read the entire story from Swisster, but in particular I loved this quote from the article.
“It was the slowest race since 1962,” Christophe Lamps, Bol d’Or spokesman, told Swisster. In that year the first boat across the line took 31 hours, 54 minutes and 49 seconds to complete the 123-kilometre course across the lake and back. “Of course at that time they didn’t have the multihull technology,” Lamps noted.

One might also note that Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi finished sixth, while Pascal Bidégorry, aboard Banque Populaire, ended up fifth. Yup it was a long, yet colorful and exciting race.


  1. Great memories. Givees me the feeling you would like to switch the countries again ;-) Hug across the pond

  2. Wonderful post with great picture - sailing and wind appeals to a Norwegian to you know :-)

  3. Beautiful photos of le Lac Léman! J'en ai une telle envie pour la Suisse Romande ! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I agree, the pictures are beautiful. Funny because we never think of Switzerland as a sailing country!

  5. I've had a couple of sailing adventures on Lake Geneva, 1982-1987, including two incidents that could have turned bad.

    We lost the keel and rudder on a Hobie catamaran (three of us on board), the strong wind then tossed us around so we dropped the sail, luckily towed in by a traditional green fishing dory with long oars and a small outboard--the fisherman cut his nets to rescue us, then served a round of local white wine in a quaint little shot glass the local fisherman, farmers, and labourers use for communal wine drinking. What typical French-Swiss hospitality!--as I've experienced many times. This happened about a third way across the wide part of the lake (between Saint-Prex/VD, Suisse and Evian-les-Bains, France)!

    The other time, thunder, heavy rain, and high winds set off the storm lights in each port on both sides of the lake--two of us in a 40-year old wood-hulled sailboat built in Scotland, didn't make for port fast enough (Allaman/VD) and ended up with a 50,00 sFr. fine by the local police in their motorboat, then had a few rounds of beer to end it on a high note!

  6. I bet it was cool to watch them get started. I love watching it on television. I can only imagine what it's like in person.

  7. Mmm ... like the photos! Switzerland is definitely very photogenic :)

  8. Beautiful shots! I saw Alinghi at the America's Cup in Valencia...was it two years ago? with plenty of wind :)

  9. I thought you might like to see my post from June 2007 here.

  10. Beautiful shots from wonderful Lac Leman.
    I've never sailed on the Lake, even though I've been all the way round.
    I wish I could one day