Oskar Kihlborg/Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
When tragedy strikes
The 32-year-old Hans Horrevoets was sailing as a senior member of the ABN AMRO TWO team, which was largely made up of under-30s sailors.
The team were 1,300 miles from the finish of the transatlantic leg when the wind rose from 12 to 25 knots. Skipper Sebastian Josse was at the wheel and Horrevoets was trimming the spinnaker when the boat nose-dived into a wave in 25 knots of wind, throwing Horrevoets overboard. After 40 minutes of searching, the crew found his body and hauled him back on board, but he could not be resuscitated.
Just three days later, the crew of ABN AMRO TWO, still mourning the loss of their friend and with his body still on board, were called to show their fortitude and rescue the entire crew of movistar.
They had landed off a big wave with a huge bang and water was surging in the boat through the broken keel structure. With a storm of 50 knots promised within the next 24 hours, Bouwe Bekking’s team had to decide whether to stay with the boat, which could sink in seconds, or abandon ship. The next day, as the storm approached, the movistar crew took to a life raft and transferred over to ABN AMRO TWO.
“Hans was equally as good a guy on the boat as he was on the shore,” said Nick Bice, a fellow crewmember on ABN AMRO TWO. “On the boat he was a great sailor and a great guy to have on board. He is sadly missed.”
Despite the huge trauma of dealing with the loss of Horrevoets, the ABN AMRO TWO crew decided to complete the remaining legs of the race in memory of their team mate.
“It was quite fitting that in the leg from Rotterdam to Gothenburg, we led the whole race and eventually came in second,” Bice added. “Everything we did from that point on was in Hans’ honour.”
Horrevoets was the fifth sailor to die at sea during a Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race following the loss of Paul Waterhouse, Dominique Guillet and Bernie Hosking in the inaugural race in 1973-74, and Tony Phillips in 1989-90.
Since then, an award has been established in his name to honour the outstanding young sailor in each edition. The Hans Horrevoets Award was given to Michi Müller of PUMA in 2008-09 and Dave Swete of Sanya in 2011-2012