Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sad News from the Volvo Ocean Race

By now most have read about the sad news from the Volvo - Abn Amro Two lost a crewman - 32-year-old helmsman and sail trimmer Hans Horrevoets - overboard early Thursday. According to coverage the yacht was sailing downwind in 16-foot waves and 28-35-mph winds roughly 1,300 miles from Portsmouth, England in the Atlantic ocean. Crewmembers enacted a "man overboard" drill and recovered Hans but were unable to resuscitate him.

Anyone who has been offshore understands this nightmare intimately...even if they've never pulled a dead mate from the ocean, or been the unfortunate person over the side. In the same way a mountain climber accepts the inherent danger of sudden blizzards or rock slides and backcountry skiers dread yet brave avalanches - offshore sailors live with the very real threat of going over.

I came close years ago on the foredeck of the Maxi Yacht Javelin during a big blow in the Gulfstream. I was helping to reef the mainsail on the dawn watch and we shipped a big crossing wave over the deck from the windward side. It hit my chest, swept me off my feet and washed me to the leeward rail...being clipped to the jackline kept me on board. It was about a full minute or so before I could unclench my hands from the stanchion and steady myself...more than enough time to contemplate the dark, rushing water and the almost certain oblivion it promised. I'll never forget that feeling.

God speed the crew of Abn Amro Two and God bless the soul of Hans Horrevoets. He died with his boots on.

3 comments:

Lonnie Bruner said...

This is devastating. I feel like someone just punched me in the gut. The sea has taken back one of its own today.

What's weird is that the Baltimore Sun says, "Horrevoets' death was the first death in the race since 1989, and the fifth in its 32-year history." and the New York Times says, "The sailor's death is the first of its kind in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race and the race's predecessor, the Whitbread Around-the-World-Race."

I guess it's not the first time NYT got something wrong.

OG said...

Hans was a friend of mine...

He lived, he sailed, he died...

But the memories will live on forever...

Zephyr said...

og - thank you for your thoughts. Condolences to you on the loss of your good friend Hans.