Member of Dutch crew dies during Volvo Race

Horrevoets, 32, left mark in Chesapeake

May 19, 2006|By PAUL MCMULLEN | PAUL MCMULLEN,SUN REPORTER

Hans Horrevoets, who died early yesterday in the Atlantic Ocean after being swept overboard while trimming the spinnaker sheet on ABN Amro Two, was among the last sailors to sign on for the Volvo Ocean Race and made a strong impression during its recent three- week stopover in Baltimore and Annapolis.

Horrevoets, a 32-year-old from the Netherlands, was the oldest crew member on the second Dutch entry in the seven-boat, around-the-world race. He was the only father on his crew, as he leaves behind a wife, Petra, and infant daughter, Bobbi. According to Tom Touber, the shore operations manager for the ABN Amro boats, Horrevoets wasn't supposed to race this time around.

"There was supposed to be an age limit of 30 for the second boat," Touber said. "Hans had helped select the crew. Someone had to resign because of a family issue, and the whole team made the call to waive that age restriction for him. They were eager to have Hans on board."

Touber spoke from Portsmouth, England, the destination in the seventh leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The boats left New York on May 11. Touber said they were some 1,300 miles and several days from Land's End, England, when the ABN Amro Two nose-dived in 16-foot waves at 2:11 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time. Once the water cleared, Horrevoets was missing and man overboard procedures were initiated.

An account on the Volvo Ocean Race Web site described an arduous rescue attempt. ABN Amro Two was sailing downwind, under 25 to 30 knots of wind, and had to reverse course and assume motor power.

"The Volvo boats go so fast and cover a tremendous amount of distance," said Gary Jobson, an ESPN analyst based in Annapolis. "You can't stop instantly, and it's hard to turn around. It takes at least 10 minutes to take the sail down, and at 20 knots, you've gone three miles. It was a very difficult thing to do, just to find him and get him back onboard."

Using a global positioning device, Touber said, it took 65 minutes to locate Horrevoets, who was recovered from 60-degree water by crew member Simeon Tienpoint. Horrevoets had no pulse. A British hospital relayed instructions, but attempts to revive Horrevoets were unsuccessful and CPR was stopped about an hour after his body was recovered. Touber said there were no visible injuries on Horrevoets. A cause of death had not been established.

ABN Amro Two was in sixth place in the Volvo Ocean Race yesterday, and a decision had not been made as to whether it would attempt to complete the event, which began in Spain last November and is scheduled to conclude in Sweden next month.

Horrevoets helped ABN Amro Two break the world 24-hour speed record on Jan. 11, when it covered 563 miles during the second leg, from Cape Town, South Africa, to Melbourne, Australia. It was his second Volvo Ocean Race, as he was on board Brunel Sunergy in 1997-1998.

"Hans had long, blond hair, and looked like the consummate sailor," Jobson said. "He was a friendly, outgoing guy who was the most experienced one on the boat."

Gregory H. Barnhill, the president of Ocean Race Chesapeake, which organized the Baltimore stopover, has strong memories of Horrevoets' time here.

"He was an integral part of the stopover," Barnhill said. "Hans attended the Grand National [steeplechase race April 29], and spoke on behalf of cystic fibrosis, when we were raising funds by auctioning onboard visits. Many of us got to know him, and this is devastating."

It was the Volvo Ocean Race's fifth fatality, its first since 1989, when it was the Whitbread. According to Fighting Finish, a book Jobson wrote, two sailors were lost in the first race, in 1973-1974.

paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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