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Wally Nano Nostromino, mission accomplished at stormy Bol d'Or Mirabaud

by Gstaad Yacht Club 20 Jun 2019 14:14 BST 14-16 June 2019
Wally Nano Nostromino at the Bol d' Or 2019 © GYC

Mission accomplished for Nostromino, the brand-new Wally Nano MK11 007, that couldn't find a better way to test its qualities during the 2019 edition of the Swiss international regatta, which will probably remain in sailing history books for the tough, stormy conditions that hit the fleet.

Christened the day before its debut at the Bol d'Or Mirabaud 2019, Nostromino is owned by Sir Andrew Cook, an Englishman living in Switzerland, who also owns Nostromo, a 100 feet sloop designed by late famous naval architect Ed Dubois.

Sir Andrew chose the 81st edition of the world's most important inland lake regatta as the opening race for his new boat, captained by Sweden's former Finn Gold Cup winner Thomas Lundqvist and teamed with Danish triple Olympic medallist Jesper Bank, Dutch builder Joop Doomernik, UK's John Archer, multihulls' expert Bertrand Geiser and Swiss artist Anthony Bannwart.

But he surely would not expect Nostromino's debut to be so tough. After a start with light south-westerly breeze, followed by a pleasant afternoon, the sky fell on the competitors' heads with gusts exceeding 50 knots, hail and very poor visibility, with Météo Suisse recording peaks of 60 knots at the Bouveret. Suffice to say that in total 212 boats abandoned racing, plenty dismasted, several capsized and a number of sailors fell overboard. A true lake storm.

"Around 17h00 we saw the black clouds coming from Geneva." Explained Nostromino's owner. "In 60 years of sailing, I have never known a storm so violent and so sudden. We knew something nasty was coming when the orange warning lights on the coast started flashing, but I never expected a hurricane. One moment we were afloat on a flat calm with good visibility, the next we saw a grey mist racing towards us. We had less than a minute to get the sails in before the wall of wind, water, rain and hail struck us. Visibility was down to less than 100 metres. Thankfully we had 'clocked' the Le Bouveret mark, and with the storm dead astern and Thomas working away skillfully on the tiller, we raced through the murk towards it under bare poles, at times exceeding 11 knots. We passed a capsized cat but unable to render direct assistance in the high winds and heavy seas, we fired off two flares to mark its position and stood off as best we could until a rescue RIB appeared. The storm abated after about an hour, the wind turned around 120 degrees and dropped to 25 knots and we had an exciting fetch over a lively chop back towards Evian. Then the wind died away completely, leaving us, wet to the skin despite our foul-weather gear, to ghost back to Geneva".

The crew kept their nerves and the afterguard Lundqvist and Bank contributed with their huge skills and racing experience. "Thomas is as excellent helmsman and managed to keep us on course. We set off two distress flares for a catamaran that was capsizing. We kept sailing at a tremendous speed. We rounded Bouveret, but the sea was in a state, so we had a rough sail back." Said Sir Andrew, praising his crew's ability.

"We had a very exciting race, from sunshine and zero wind to total thunderstorm, hail and 50-60 knots of wind. It was quite dramatic out there with several capsized catamarans. We had to send up flares, when we tried to rescue guys in the water. But everything went very well, and we suffered no damages at all." Explained Swedish helmsman Thomas Lundqvist. "Plus, we scored an excellent result, considering it was a new boat and that the crew never trained together on Nostromino."

"After this race you understand that Lake Geneva is very complicated in every sense of the word. We finished 45th and it's fantastic because we were in 58th at Bouveret. Only 5 boats that rounded after us finished ahead of us in Geneva and we took over 13 boats on the leg back. The Bol d'Or is wonderful but so tough at the same time." Commented Swiss Bertrand Geiser, who raced the Bol d'Or 20 times.

In fact, the new Wally Nano MK11 007 finished in 45th position, 29th monohull in elapsed time. "Everybody was very shaken up and cold and the crew allowed me for a little snooze. Finally, we crossed the line at 6:23 in the morning after 20 hours and 41 minutes. The Bol d'Or was a wonderful anaesthetic, a perfect diversion from your everyday challenges." Concluded Sir Andrew Cook.

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