Mirabaud and sailing
Passion for regattas, love of Lake Geneva
Whether privately or in the name of the bank, the Mirabaud family has been hoisting its sails since at least 1888. Here we talk to Nicolas Mirabaud about his family’s passionate commitment to water sports, from Lake Geneva to the oceans of the world.
Did you know? Despite not having any sea borders, Switzerland is the second country after New Zealand with the highest number of sailing enthusiasts! And the more than 100,000 sailors in the Confederation are mainly located in French-speaking Switzerland. The reason is clear – the region is home to the largest alpine lake, Lake Geneva. This immense body of water is the perfect place to indulge in water sports. Surrounded by the Alps and the Jura, the lake is exposed to a wide variety of winds including the Bise, the Joran, the Vaudaire, the Morget, the Bornan, the Jaman and the Séchard, to name but a few. It is a fabulous playground for all sailing enthusiasts, not least the Mirabaud family.
... The Mirabauds have always had a special connection with Lake Geneva and sailing, particularly competitive sailing"
The first tangible proof of the Miraubauds' passion for sailing is a photo – an image from 1888 showing the Squaw, one of the first racing yachts on Lake Geneva. It belonged to Ivan Mirabaud, partner of the family bank founded in 1819. “The Mirabauds have always had a special connection with Lake Geneva and sailing, particularly competitive sailing", according to Nicolas Mirabaud, managing Partner.
“This sport reflects an image that corresponds to us, one that combines technological and sustainable development. Above all, it conveys a notion of sharing where the human remains at the centre. Men and women who defend values of conviction, independence, responsibility and passion.”
This vision is reflected in Mirabaud’s commitment to the Bol d’Or, the world's largest closed basin regatta, the first of which took place in 1939. In 1940 already, a woman came second. And in 1944, Riquette Thévand won aboard her sailboat Vega. It was 66 years before another woman would claim victory, and this was thanks to Dona Bertarelli in 2010. The success of this event, with which Mirabaud has officially associated its name since 2005, lies in its popularity based on a simple concept – the competitors set off from the Société nautique de Genève and sail to Le Bouveret and back, covering a theoretical minimum distance of 123 km. “There aren't really any other sporting competitions where professional and amateur sailors compete side by side”, explains Nicolas Mirabaud.
“About 500 boats helmed by some 3,000 keen racers take part, including sailors with impressive track records. Whether it's Eric Tabarly, Loïck Peyron, Ellen MacArthur, Florence Arthaud or even Russell Coutts – three-time winner of the America's Cup – the greatest sailors have taken part in this unmissable sailing event, or even won it.”
Beyond Geneva and its lake, Mirabaud's investment in water sports is also visible in the other 15 cities where the group has a presence, as well as internationally. “We supported adventurer Mike Horn on his journey around the Arctic Circle. We have also enjoyed partnerships with Dominique Wavre for various races including the Vendée Globe, Dona Bertarelli’s Spindrift team, Yann Guichard, and the English women's sailing team that won gold at the Beijing Olympics, to name just a few examples”, continues Nicolas Mirabaud.
In 200 years of history, Mirabaud has already lived through many crises, but 2020 will be a milestone. Not even World War II stopped the Bol d'Or Mirabaud and yet it did not take place this year, for the first time since its creation. “COVID-19 has and will have an impact on the economy, but it is important that events such as the Bol d'Or Mirabaud remain. As partners in this regatta, we have assured the organising committee of our present and future support. That said, everyone's health comes first, and without waiting for the restrictions to be announced by the authorities, we decided, together with the organising committee, that no risk should be taken in 2020”, underlines Nicolas Mirabaud. “We hope that the next edition will be able to take place under the best conditions. Save the date already – Saturday, 21 June 2021.”
The future is a subject close to Nicolas Mirabaud’s heart. “The TF35 category represents the future of sailing on Lake Geneva. Thanks to their hydrofoils, these catamarans are able to glide over the water at unmatched speeds. In 2008, we financed the Mirabaud LX, the first sailboat capable of navigating without a hull and to rise above the surface. The ancestor of the TF35 in a way. Sailing has been around for thousands of years, but thanks to innovation, sailors are always able to improve performance. Lake Geneva, and its many different winds, is the ideal full-scale laboratory for testing the latest innovations in sailing. Mirabaud is delighted to support this development.”
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