Y for Yacht

At first, it didn’t seem to me that “yacht” was a particularly Swiss thing to write about. Then I thought of Alinghi, twice winner of the America’s Cup, and the fact that Switzerland borders on two of the largest lakes in Europe, as well as having a big sailing scene on all the many lakes in this small country, and realised how wrong I was! Alinghi

Perhaps surprisingly for a land-locked country, the Swiss make excellent sailors. Their sense of order and precision, being methodical and sensible and unexcitable, are ideal traits for those who can think of nothing better than “simply messing about in boats”, as Ratty muses in The Wind in the Willows… To sail in Switzerland, you have to have a licence if you have more than 15m2 of sail area, and sailing has become even more popular as the years go by, with many going on to study for a coastal sailing licence. You might be surprised to hear how many have sailing experience, once you get chatting… ella maillart

You may never have heard of Ella Maillart from Lake Geneva (1903-1997), but she was an intelligent, fascinating and sporty young woman who sailed, climbed and skied in the days when it wasn’t entirely “proper” for females to do so, and she was only 20 when she sailed for Switzerland at the 1924 Olympics, the youngest sailor and the only woman! (She later skied for Switzerland internationally, too, in 1931-34, going on to become a travelling adventuress, writer and photographer, see Je suis de nulle part : Sur les traces d’Ella Maillart, a biography by Olivier Weber, her own The Cruel Way: Switzerland to Afghanistan by Ford, or ellamaillart.ch, for more about this very interesting person.)LacustreThe very elegant lines of the Lacustre…

Still on Lake Geneva, at Corsier Port, a contemporary of Maillart was the legendary boat builder, Henri Copponex – naval architect, regatta competitor and Olympic bronze medallist (1960). Perhaps most famous for his Lacustre boat designs from the 1930s onwards, he also designed Swedish 30m2 and the racing class 5.5m IR, in which he did much of his yacht racing internationally, among others – he drew over 400 boat plans, meticulously engineered via mathematics. Our particular interest, though, is his design of the smaller 15 SNS (Swiss National Series), because our own little yacht is a 1965 15 SNS from Corsier – designed by Copponex and 50 years old this year!! IMG_0699IMG_3028

 

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