The Journal / Body

Race Day: The Châteaux Triathlon

Unity – and fierce competition – between the Domaines

The French teams at Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite embody the family spirit – in blood, sweat and tears. We’ve brought you some snippets, from an extraordinary day at Lafite.

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As the sun rises on Friday, July 7th 2023, the weather is perfect. Our grapes are basking in the sunshine, confident they’ll remain undisturbed: the harvest is still a long way off. From their plots, they observe the finishing touches being placed on an unusual sporting circuit; awaiting the French teams of Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite are a 400-metre swim, a 35-kilometre cycle, and a 10-kilometre run through the vineyards.

Carefully transported from their respective estates – a logistical marvel, given that the Tour de France was passing through Bordeaux on the same day – these teams are officially on a day off work. But when it comes to their muscles, nothing could be further from the truth. Whether competing solo or as a team, for a single discipline or the whole event, coached by a colleague or motivated by a loved one, everyone takes part in their own way.

The brain behind the idea of this sporting day out in the land of great wine is Paul, Saskia de Rothschild’s partner. He rediscovered his taste for sport during lockdown, and came up with the idea of creating a triathlon for his family. Saskia was quick to open up the concept to the extended Domaines family. With the help of Benjamin Sanson, triathlon champion, the first competition was launched in 2021, with the ambition of making it a biannual tradition at Lafite.

Now, let’s circle back to the present – to capture the energy of our 320 runners, walkers, supporters and volunteers from Lafite, Duhart-Milon, Aussières, Rieussec, Paradis Casseuil and l’Evangile. Here are a few things their courageous bodies are up to.

Off we go!

Arms are slicing through the water like bird-wings. They are propelling the swimmers across the Lac d’Hourtin, located a few kilometres away from Château Lafite Rothschild. The golden morning sun glows like a gold medal. Our lucky charm Baron Eric joins in, first in his dressing gown, and then in his wetsuit.

“My partner asked me to join the swimming event, as one team was lacking swimmers. I signed up without even knowing who my teammates would be! It turned out to be a real challenge, but above all a wonderful encounter with the Domaines’ family spirit.”

– Caroline Ferreira, Paul Verdier’s partner (winemaker)

Legs… are pushing hard on the pedals to navigate across the thirty-five kilometres through the vineyards of Lafite and Duhart-Milon. Wet hair dries quickly in the sunshine. One participant persists despite near-locked brakes: this is the power of determination. The finish line at the winery draws near, and the relay bags are ready.

Everything’s running smoothly for William Lafosse, tractor operator at Rieussec, captured here just before his shoes got lost in the relay and he started the race in his socks.
In the middle of the picture, Thomas Molina, Transportation and Shipping Manager, is challenging the clock. His coach is his colleague and triathlete Kévin Sourigues.

“This triathlon is a team effort. Big thanks to Kévin Sourigues! He convinced me to buy a bike last summer, coached me, rode beside me and shared his tips with me. Without him, this performance wouldn’t have been possible.”

– Thomas Molina, Head of Transportation and Shipping

“Relay from bicycle to race: I’m so eager to get started that I forget to attach the timing chip to my ankle. Naturally, the clock shows a record-breaking time! I get caught by the organisers on the second lap and am playfully teased for the rest of the day.”

A participant who prefers to remain anonymous, not wanting to add fuel to the fire—times are serious business.

Feet… follow two circuits that border the marshes and lead through the forest, eventually reaching Duhart-Milon’s vineyards before looping back to Lafite. Shoes don’t arrive? A runner simply takes on the run in socks. Shoes there, but no socks? An epic blister will proudly be displayed to all post-race. The final stretch to the Château is encouraged by roaring cheers and shining sun.

Hands… aim, launch and casually debate, away from the race. The 41 pétanque tournament teams go head-to-head, blending seriousness with cheerfulness. Other hands spike volleyballs, while yet others crack open oysters and pop the corks on bottles of Rosé d’Aussières.

“We would not have missed the pétanque tournament for anything on earth. When our train was cancelled, two days prior, we chartered a private bus, ensuring we’d make it from Aussières to Lafite. Loyalty above all.”

– Petanquists of Aussières

Hearts… beat fast as the winners are climbing on the podiums to receive their awards. Pride runs deep: this family isn’t just composed of wine lovers, but also of top-level athletes. Above all, there’s an unrivalled team spirit. Magnums of Lafite from 2001 and 2006 aren’t mere trophies—they are trophies to be shared.

Kévin Sourigues is a solid performer. He wins the men’s solo competition in 1hour, 42 minutes and 39 seconds. When he’s not competing in triathlons (he won the Bordeaux one in 2021), he’s a general accountant.

“Of all the triathlons I’ve taken part in, this one wins the award of the most beautiful podium: right in front of the Château, surrounded by colleagues and buddies. It was pure bliss, after having discussed it every day in the cafeteria for months!”

– Kévin Sourigues
Xuan Nguyen-Mazel, Business Development Manager for the European market, is the grand winner of the women’s solo triathlon, clocking in at 2 hours, 41 minutes and 29 seconds.

“It was an individual challenge, but fuelled by a team. I could never have finished on my own: the cheers from my colleagues, and the advice of more experienced competitors kept me motivated right to the end!”

– Xuan Nguyen-Mazel, Sales Development Manager for Europe
The winning team featured Caroline Ferreira (Paul Verdier’s partner), Jerôme Bissireix (assistant winemaker at Lafite) and Christophe Cruzin (cellar worker at Lafite).

“As I took part in the first triathlon, I knew the course very well. So I acted as a guide, helping those who didn’t know what direction to take. A slight detour, all for a good cause: nobody got lost.”

– Jerôme Bissireix, assistant winemaker at Lafite Rothschild
The petanque championship was clinched by Stéphane Gracia (tractor operator at Domaine d’Aussières) and Stéphane Villar (Assistant Vineyard Manager at Domaine d’Aussières).

“We played against the same opponents that we faced three years ago, in another competition. This was a sweet revenge!”

– Stéphane Gracia (tractor operator at Domaine d’Aussières) and Stéphane Villar (assistant vineyard manager at Domaine d’Aussières)

Stomachs… don’t stay empty for long. A lunch, surrounded by flowers and cheering, welcomes everyone under the shade of our chestnut trees. What do we eat? Oysters and pâté as a starter, followed by a lamb mechoui prepared by our region’s master roaster, and finished off with cheese platters and delicious fruit tarts. And what do we drink? First, a 2020 Blanc de Duhart-Milon and a 2021 R de Rieussec, before we move to the 2003 Altan d’Aussières and Lafite. Cheers to our whole family!

Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite  would like to thank the 19 athletes who completed the entire triathlon, as well as the 29 teams, 55 walkers, 37 volunteers and 82 pétanquists.

We look forward to seeing them again at the next edition of the triathlon in 2025.

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