The D35 was developed as a response to the ever-increasing costs and extremism in one-design multihull sailing on Lake Geneva. A group of owners, including Ernesto Bertarelli, got together with designer Sebastien Schmidt to bring to life a fast, high-tech, but affordable one-design catamaran. In 2004 the first eight boats were launched from the Decision yard and the class has gone from strength to strength ever since, now numbering twelve.
The design is an evolution of the previous Schmidt design, the Alinghi 40ft cat ‘Le Black’, with a central ‘pod’ used to tie the structure together and withstand the stresses from the platform and rig. The fine carbon-nomex sandwich used for the hulls means the structure is light, with a displacement of 1.2 tonnes. This, together with a wing mast that can be rotated up to 45 degrees and a 160m2 upwind sailplan, means the boat is anything but slow with top speeds of around 30 knots.
The class rules call for a minimum of five crew on board but , with an upper limit of 456kg, some crews can be up to seven-strong. The teams competing on the lake are a mixture of local amateurs and world-class professionals including Loick Peyron, Michel Desjoyeaux, Karine Fauconnier, Franck Cammas, Steve Ravussin and Alain Gautier. The Alinghi D35 team consists of seven members: the Swiss sailors Ernesto Bertarelli, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei , Yves Detrey and Christian Wahl who have been sailing together for decades, French multihull expert Tanguy Cariou and 420 World Champion Coraline Jonet.
From 2004, an annual circuit for the D35 class was created. The Julius Baer Challenge combines the classic lake regattas including the Bol d’Or with several Grand Prix events exclusive to the D35 class. Racing within the fleet is always tight but Alinghi (SUI 1) has maintained a podium finish every year and firmly remains one of the teams to beat.