Rolex Bol d´Or Report

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OUT95 scoops third in class in the mighty Bol d’Or

The Bol d’Or is the premier event in the Swiss racing Calendar. An 80-mile race starting from Geneva running the length of Lac Leman it attracts 600 competitors, including the British OUT95 ‘Eris’. Neal Pawson tells the story from a race that featured vicious squalls as well as completely drifting conditions over the course of their 22-hour marathon.

After a week of preparation in brilliant sunshine following the Geneve-Rolle-Geneve, still with a monstrous list of “to do” jobs, then having a crew member refused exit from the UK and thus having to find a last minute replacement, we were towed out to join 600 boats on the start line of the 68th Bol d’Or on an overcast morning. With the start line divided up, with the faster monohulls sandwiched between the multihulls and a large number of smaller boats, tactical options were limited as we pulled away from the start on port tack in 2-3 knots of wind that built to a steady 5-6 knot easterly. After initially taking a route down the center to gain clear air we worked the band of pressure down the French shore to Yvoire. Exiting the Petit Lac the wind dropped below 5 knots and the code 0 was hoisted as we fetched across the bay of Thornon in a small band of pressure. On passing Evian the wind became increasingly fickle and we again headed for the shore to make use of the local wind on the beach.

Whilst we played the highly variable wind the clouds started to build behind and we spotted the flashing warning lights that are dotted around the lake to warn mariners of impeding storms. We donned waterproofs and tried to anticipate the direction. Looking behind we saw spinnakers being hoisted as the wind switched to the west and built rapidly to 20+ knots. With masthead kite and full main we shot off in flat water towards the turning mark at Bouveret with the Silva instruments locked in with a constant 20 knots boatspeed. We sped past the leading boats who having already rounded the mark were struggling with reefs and headsail changes on an upwind course. After two smaller hiccups our sleigh ride was bought to a close by a vicious gust down the vertical cliff face above Bouveret, which required the kite halyard to be blown to get us back on our feet. Approaching the mark in pouring rain, the wind became increasingly unstable with bigger gusts and lulls alternatively demanding multiple reefs or full sail. The drama was not over yet, as we rounded under headsail alone with broken rigs around us and the mark only a few hundred meters off a leeshore that had already claimed one boat, a competitor sailing bare-headed directly ahead suddenly lost its mainsail as the halyard broke. Staring at a rapidly approaching transom and insufficient water to sail through to leeward our only option was to gybe out and tack round to clear past the big steel barge recording the competitors as they rounded. The wind at the same time started to drop as rapidly as it had built and clock round to the south. We re-hoisted our main and added our code 0 as we headed back down the lake to the finish.

We quickly returned to sub 6 knots windspeed and from the adrenaline pumping events earlier our bodies suffered from a lack of stimulant and we were left bemoaning our forgotten supply of caffeine stimulant drinks with only bananas and chocolate to jumpstart our bodies and minds. Across the bay of Evian as dusk settled into night the wind became increasingly patchy and required repeated changes from spinnaker to code 0 and back. We worked hard to stay in the wind bands only to be frustrated as the lake gods seemed to deal out an equal number of jokers to our competitors.

Re-entering the Petit Lac with the moon high in the sky the wind disappeared completely until the faintest zephyrs brought the boatspeed into the 0.5-2 knots range. With exhausted bodies strewn above and below decks and tired minds fighting to stay focused, small maneuvers became highlights of excitement from the monotony of creeping along in such light breeze. As dawn approached we jousted with a number of groups of boats that materialized from navigation lights including an F28 trimaran and a number of the local Toucan class of long narrow boats that feature huge overlapping headsails. Picking our way past boats left and right, all the way up to the line, we finally squeezed over the line at 6hr50 in the morning, 12h hours after we rounded Bouveret.

After a restorative sleep and a wonderful meal of Boeuf Bourguignon, kindly provided by our Swiss sponsors “Wings Project Art Space”, we were pleasantly shocked after all the adventures of the race to discover at the prize giving that we had finished 31st monohull from over 540 competitors and be called up to the podium to collect a trophy for 3rd in class!

Class 1: 1st Tilt, Schneiter/Firmenich; 2nd Taillevent 2, Engel; 3rd Full Pelt, Fein.
Class 2: 1st Miss Tfy, Valiton; 2nd Cornaline, Della Casa; 3rd Kick Asso, Syfrig.
Class L: 1st Move Your Image, Schiller; 2nd Coriace, Rousselle; 3rd Eris OUT95, Preston.
M1 class: 1st Banque Gonet, Coutts; 2nd Julius Bar, Cardis; 3rd Okalis, Grange.
M2 class: 1st Team New Wave, Geiser/Stamm; 2nd Tilt, Schneiter; 3rd DFI-CQFD, Association


Notes for editors:
The OUT95 is designed by Neal Pawson and built by Out and Out Solutions, a partnership between Neal and the boat’s build manager Alex Ashworth Briggs. Inspired by Pacific Proas (narrow single-hulled craft with an outrigger to windward), and built fully of carbon, the Out 95 is rather like a catamaran with one hull and a deep bulb keel, while buoyant ‘wings’ providing a wide platform for the crew to keep the boat sailing flat. The rig is a rotating carbon spar supported by Navtec rigging.

For more information on the OUT95 see contact Neal Pawson on +44(0)79688 48340 or Alex Ashworth-Briggs on +44(0)7770 608287. High resolution photos available on request or from


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