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Newcomer Sails of Change tied for lead with Realteam on opening day of TF35 Nyon Cup

Yacht Racing Podcast

After three good races today on Lake Geneva – each with a different winner – Realteam Sailing leads the TF35 Nyon Cup after day one but only on tie break ahead of Yann Guichard’s new boat and new crew onboard Sails of Change 8.

Still early in the sailing season for Switzerland, unpredictable weather conditions on Lake Geneva were expected ahead of this week’s TF35 Nyon Cup. With moderate cloud cover this morning, the teams were held ashore under AP in the hope that a light northeasterly breeze would fill in from lunchtime. As the grey sky gave way to the sun and a six-knot breeze built to 12 knots throughout the afternoon, the race committee got three fast, foiling races in before a storm cloud abruptly ended the day.

In Race 1, despite a split up the first beat, with Realteam Sailing and Sails of Change 8 going left while the rest of the teams went right, the fleet remained compressed at the first windward gate and Realteam, coming in on the port layline, only just made the cross in front of Ylliam XII—Comptoir Immobilier.

Downwind, Realteam extended away to the right as Ylliam XII tried their luck again on the left side of the course. With the wind now at nine knots and the boats comfortably on their foils, the two Sails of Change teams started to close in on the leading pair. By the second windward gate, Duncan Späth at the helm of Sails of Change 10, had edged into second behind leading boat Realteam, a position he held until a photo finish on the line with his teammates on Sails of Change 8.

“I’ve moved from mainsail trimmer to skipper, which is a big step up and change for the team,” explains Späth. “For our first races against the fleet, we are very happy and proud of how we performed. We were a little apprehensive but mostly just pumped and excited to be able to be on the start line with the other teams and competitive in such close racing”.

With the wind up to 12 knots, it was a hot start for the fleet in Race 2. Sails of Change 8, Ylliam XII, and Realteam all shot the pin end of the line on port and tried to cross the fleet. Masters of boat handling, Realteam timed it perfectly and was the only boat to make it across without being forced to duck.

As in the previous race, the boats remained compact, and this time, it was Ylliam XII who slowly chipped away at Realteam’s lead by staying furthest right upwind and downwind to overtake them coming into the finish line by a slim seven-second margin.

“It’s the first time we’ve been up against the others for a while, and the good surprise is that we were comfortable,” admits Ylliam XII—Comptoir Immobilier tactician Thomas Le Breton. “We came very close to winning two races, which in the end was nothing, but we were up front in any case.”

“The boat has evolved well with the work done on the software, so it’s possible to use the boat in an even more sophisticated way, which makes for even tighter racing,” Le Breton adds.

The third and final race of the day, before the storm clouds closed in, was won by Yann Guichard’s Sails of Change 8. The new crew started mid pack and followed the fleet, hitting the starboard layline for the first half of the race. But on the final downwind leg, Guichard and new tactician Noé Delpech broke away and went left alone, a winning move that saw them sneak across the finish line two seconds ahead of second-placed Ylliam XII.

With a 3 3 1 scoreline, Guichard’s new team is the top-scoring boat of the day, a spectacular result after limited training days this spring.

“I haven’t raced on the lake since 2015 on the D35, so today was a nice surprise,” confessed Sails of Change 8 tactician Noé Delpech. “We’re happy with our day, it went well, and the crew is really close-knit. We’ve got a great atmosphere on board. Yann is always very calm, so thanks to him, we all have such a good attitude on board.”

“The fleet is tight, so to take a win is impressive. Tomorrow we’re going to keep up this momentum, and I think the main thing we’re going to focus on is the starts,” Delpech concludes.

(After 3 races)
1. Realteam Sailing (SUI 7) – 1 2 4 – 7
2. Sails of Change 8 (SUI 8 ) – 3 3 1 – 7
3. Ylliam XII—Comptoir Immobilier (SUI 12) – 5 1 2 – 8
4. Sails of Change 10 (SUI 10) – 2 5 3 – 10
5. ZEN Too (SUI 4) – 4 6 5 – 15
6. Ylliam 17 (SUI 17) – 7 4 6 – 17

Main image © Loris Von Siebenthal