Ernesto Bertarelli participated in his first Bol d’Or in the very early 90s on board an X-119 mono-hull.
Fascinated and passionate about speed and technology, he quickly moved to what was then revolutionary, the multi-hull.
It was in 1994 that he secured his first podium place at the Bol d’Or with Alinghi (ex-Poseidon), with an upside-down finish having capsized a few meters away from the finish line… in third position.
1995 saw him compete on what was the first Alinghi-conceived multihull (by Melvin and Morelli), built at the Décision boat yard. A yellow trimaran with some Fiat painting especially chosen for its brightness and capacity to reflect the sun. It certainly worked because, in 1997, the team secured its maiden victory in the historic race.
In 2000, Alinghi 41 “The Black” was launched. It was a mighty Catamaran, designed by Seb Schmid and Jo Richards. Alinghi won the Bol d’Or with her, four years in a row between 2000 and 2003, getting the right to keep the Bol d’Or forever in 2001, having won it three times in a five years period. No other boat has ever won the Bol d’Or four times in a row, before and since.
But sport without competition is not really sport, so Bertarelli decided to withdraw “the Black” from the competition after the 2003 Victory to allow the development of a new one design class, the Décision 35, of which Alinghi D35 was N° SUI-1.
Since then, Alinghi D35 has taken part in all of the subsequent Bol d’Or. And this year will be the team’s 11th participation on this same boat.
The team had to wait until 2011 for their sixth victory, which they secured after an epic fight against Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia, setting a new class record in 6h25’50’’.
This year will be Ernesto Betarelli’s 22nd participation in this mythic regatta on Lake Geneva, out of which he has sailed 20 on a multihull…The only Bol d’Or that he has missed since his first race in 1994 was the 2007 edition when, of course, his attentions were focused on another regatta, just off the shores of Valencia…
May the wind be with us on Saturday and may the best team win the 76th Bol d’Or Mirabaud!