It has been a record-breaking year in Switzerland - in the air, in the Alps, in kitchens and in some people’s wallets.
After 15 years of work, Switzerland made the last breakthrough in the longest rail tunnel in the world. The Gotthard base tunnel in southern Switzerland is 57 kilometres long. When it opens in 2017, the tunnel will shave one-and-a-half hours off the Zurich-Milan journey.
Reporting on the October breakthrough ceremony, the Financial Times noted the tunnel would play a “crucial role in accelerating rail travel between northern and south Europe”, while the Voice of Russia calculated that the 24 million tonnes of rock excavated from the alp would be enough to rebuild Egypt's biggest pyramid five times.
Elsewhere in the Alps, the world’s highest lighthouse was inaugurated. The structure on the Oberalp pass stands at 2,046 metres above sea level and was intended to be a talking point, to make people aware that the region below lies close to the source of the Rhine.
Other dizzying records were set during the year. Europe’s longest suspension bridge for walkers was inaugurated in July in the central Swiss resort area of Sattel-Hochstuckli. The 374 metre long bridge was built at 1,200 metres above sea level and can be reached by cable car.
In the summer a topping out ceremony was held for the highest tower in Switzerland. On completion in spring 2011, the 36-storey corporate Prime Tower in Zurich will stand 126 metres high.
And Swiss high wire artist Freddy Nock claimed a new world record. The adventurer says he did the longest tightrope walk across a stretch of water after crossing a 900 metre cable suspended 30 metres above Lake Zurich.
Meanwhile, others had set their sights on entering the record books by cooking up the biggest dishes possible.
A group of Italians from Porrentruy in canton Jura served up the world’s largest tiramisu, weighing in at 2.3 tonnes. They had previously won the title in 2008 but lost it to a group from France in 2009.
Dwarfing the usual jumbo Toblerone bars popular with tourists, the biggest ever version was produced for a September chocolate fair in Bern, where the first triangular bars were created in 1908. Around 30,000 people came for a bite of the 102 kilogramme Toblerone.
In Lausanne 66,000 painted eggs were assembled into an image of Swiss cartoon character Zep. The effort was sold for charity during Easter weekend, and the makers surpassed their 2001 record of using 45,000 eggs for a design.
In November a private Swiss collector paid a world record for a bottle of wine. Christie’s in Geneva sold the imperial bottle of 1947 Château Cheval Blanc for $304,375 (SFr 300,996). That particular vintage was “one of the greatest Bordeaux of all time”, said Christie’s.
The same day, across town at Sotheby’s auction house, a rare pink diamond became the most expensive stone ever auctioned, selling in Geneva for SFr45.44 million - nearly twice the previous record.
Earlier in the year, the record auction price for a piece of art was broken with the sale of Walking Man I, by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti for $104.3 million. That title was held for a few months, until it was eclipsed by the sale of Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust for $106.5 million in May.
One lucky man raked in a fortune in March after winning the highest jackpot in the 40-year history of the Swiss lottery: a grand total of SFr35.7 million.
Others are having to dig deep into their wallets. A Swiss millionaire from St Gallen has officially entered the Guiness Book of Records for the biggest speeding fine. He was fined SFr299,000 for driving 100km/h through a town.
A 37-year-old Swede is facing an even bigger speeding fine of a million Swiss francs after being caught driving at 290km/h in canton Vaud in August. The Mercedes SLS AMG driver pleaded ignorance, saying the speedometer was broken. His case is still going through the courts.
Adventurers pushed transport to new boundaries in 2010. Yves “Fusionman” Rossy jumped from a hot-air balloon and completed two aerial loops using a custom-made jet-propelled wing suit.
The 51-year-old Swiss launched himself from a replica of the Breitling Orbiter – the first balloon to be piloted nonstop around the world in 1999 – at an altitude of 2,400 metres.
There was another airborne record set when the Solar Impulse became the first ever manned solar-powered aircraft in aviation history to fly through the night without fuel. The Swiss project co-founder Bertrand Piccard called it a “new era in which people understand that with renewable energy you can do impossible things”.
And at sea, the first-ever round the world voyage by a boat powered only by solar panels got underway. The PlanetSolar boat is the world’s largest vessel of its kind and cost around SFr16 million to build. During the 50,000km-expedition, it sails under a Swiss flag and aims to raise awareness of renewable energies.
Other world records
A Swedish amateur bass guitarist was said to have the “fastest thumb in Sweden”. The 21-year-old wrote an SMS message with 170 characters in 76 seconds, and won a cheque for 25,000 Krona (SFr3,482) as a result.
A United States drone managed to fly for 14 days and 21 minutes powered by solar energy.
The oldest – and still drinkable – champagne has been rescued from a wreck in the Baltic Sea. The bottle of Veuve Clicquot may have been sent by Louis XVI in the 1780s. A wine expert who sampled it said it had a “fabulous taste”.
The Moulin Rouge claims to have broken six world records, including the most leg lifts: 720 in 30 seconds. The show took place in November with 30 young women lined up, dancing to a speedy rhythm by Offenbach.end of infobox