High seas entrapment

Espionage in Switzerland

For two days Jean-Antoine Bonnaveau lurked. Camera and GPS in hand, the 50 year-old Frenchman’s eyes were glued to two oversized white tents out of place in an industrial parking lot in Villeneuve, a small Swiss town on the edge of Lake Geneva. Bonnaveau’s mission was simple if a little unusual for an engineer specialised in sail design. By hook or by crook he was to obtain the dimensions and build secrets of Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli’s best kept secret: his 33rd America’s Cup Alinghi multihull.

The giant catamaran of the swiss team Alinghi in Villeneuve, Switzerland © Carlo Borlenghi / Alinghi

As expected, the site had full security and surveillance, so he tucked himself away in the vineyards above the town and trained the long lens of his camera on the Alinghi base. At quiet moments he wandered around the outside of the base taking GPS measurements of the tent which served as a boat shed. After three days of surveillance he paid a visit to an apartment that would make a perfect base to monitor Alinghi activities.

Having staked out the job, he left the country ignorant of the fact that he had been spotted and filmed by an Alinghi cameraman who had also filmed his car number plates. Interpol launched a search and the French police picked him up in Nîmes where the unfortunate Frenchman was questioned. It turns out he was a long term employee of BMW Oracle Racing, the America’s Cup syndicate owned by American billionaire Larry Ellison. Ellison has his mind set on the America’s Cup, which Ernesto Bertarelli has won twice.

Other files

  • Jellyfish, friend or foe?

    Ecology3 chapters

    Are we being invaded by swarms of stinging jellyfish? All around the world, worrying stories are circulating. While some specialists try to answer this difficult question, other scientists make incredible medical discoveries. Along this investigation, OCEAN71 Magazine realized they are much more than just stinging gelatinous creatures. Their unique abilities offer many opportunities for all of mankind.






  • Nigeria’s dangerous oil

    Geopolitics1 chapter

    Pierre* is an officer in the French merchant navy as there are thousands across the world. Yet, after a six-month mission to Nigeria, he returns with a first hand account. The experience of a man who has worked in the very closed oil world in the Gulf of Guinea. Pierre was not laid off. He has simply decided to stop working in this little known hell.






  • The American Samoa enigma

    Ecology4 chapters

    It is now a known fact that corals are threatened by global warming. Some scientists are even predicting the end of coral life by 2050. Meanwhile, there is still a mystery to solve : how some corals in American Samoa have resisted centuries of climate change to become giants and how others are thriving in waters so warm that it is considered deadly ?