The 70th Bol d'Or Mirabaud this weekend

Start of the 68th Geneva Bol d’Or(Rolex)

This weekend more than 500 sailboats will be taking part in Europe's largest lake regatta -- the Bol d'Or Mirabaud presented by Girard-Perregaux. This anniversary event will showcase Lake Geneva as an ideal platform for testing cutting-edge technology and nautical research. From Geneva to the Bouveret, the race will bring together international sailing stars and Sunday sailors sharing the same passion. An event not to be missed!

Among the hundreds of sailboats taking part in the race, there will of course be the high-tech multihulls, including more than 100 Surprise sailboats. In 25 years this boat has had several makeovers and never lost its popularity. It is fast and easy to handle, measuring 7m 65 in length, and a favourite among the Swiss, whether they are Sunday sailors or seasoned racers.

The exciting contest will be between the 'lake dragonflies' on their super-light hydrofoils and their fastest competitors -- the Décision 35. Hull-less flying boats like the new Mirabaud LX on hydrofoils - which has already won the Lake Neuchâtel Bol d'Or in one fell swoop – will be a big attraction.

In the D35 category the competition is very tight between Okalys, Alinghi, Foncia and Ladycat, but Zen Too must not be overlooked, having recently won the Geneva-Rolle-Geneva regatta. And the M2 class, known for its top performers Tilt and Team Parmigiani (formerly Team New Wave), must not be overlooked, if only for its thirty-odd boats. A fleet of increasingly threatening challengers to the big catamarans!

The Bol d'Or Mirabaud is organized bythe Société Nautique de Genève Cercle de la Voile (Geneva’s Yacht Club) who can pride themselves on attracting an increasing number of ocean-faring stars: like Loïck Peyron, who has just won the Artemis Transat single-handed race from Plymouth to Boston. He will be bowman on Nicolas Grange's Okalys. Michel Desjoyeaux, record-holder for the Vendée Globe and winner of the Route du Rhum, will also be in the race with Alain Gautier on Foncia.

The New-Zealander, Murray Jones, four-time winner of the America's Cup will be at the helm with Ernesto Bertarelli on board Alinghi, while 'our' Swiss skipper Stève Ravussin will be at the helm of Zen Too. Franck Cammas on Zebra 7 sponsored by Girard-Perregaux and Karine Fauconnier at the helm of Dona Bertarelli Spaeth's Ladycat will also be fighting it out. As for Yves Parlier, another Frenchman usually associated with the high seas, he is here to promote this anniversary event. Prior to the race he will be giving demonstrations of his hydraplaneur and his prototype catamaran towed by a kite.

Once again this year there will be two starting lines, with 400m separating the monohulls from the multihulls to ensure a safe start under the watchful eyes of the SISL (the lake rescue services), the lake police and the Bol d'Or Mirabaud security boats patrolling the length of the course.

In Geneva, enthusiasts will be able to get a panoramic view of the start from a number of spots like the Pré-Byron in Cologny and la Belotte on the left bank and the Plage du Vengeron on the right bank.

As a reminder, the goal of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud is to win the course Geneva-Le Bouveret-Geneva in real time. The race officially ends on Sunday at 4pm when one hopes that the majority of competitors will have already crossed the finish line, if Aeolus (god of the winds) looks kindly upon them. Prizes will be distributed at 6pm followed by a closing drinks party.

Those who stay at home can follow the race live on the Bol d'Or Mirabaud website www.boldormirabaud.com thanks to a hundred tracking units (distributed to the favorite boats in each class as well as to randomly selected boats) and regular updates posted online.

On Saturday June 14, the Société Nautique de Genève (Geneva Yacht Club)will open its doors at 6.30am to welcome the contestants (who will have picked up their race packs the day before). Families, friends and spectators will be able to eat breakfast in the Nautique's friendly surroundings.

The public is welcome to stop by the Yacht Club on Saturday and Sunday, which will feature a new attraction: the opportunity to admire the winning boats close-up in each class as the teams are required to moor their boats alongside the arrival dock. A great opportunity for amateur photographers! From 7.30pm until dawn, the Nautique's Club House will be very lively with a spaghetti party and music.