Flags were lowered to half mast at the Sydney Volvo Ocean Race village today, and a minute’s silence was observed as a mark of respect to one of offshore sailing’s most gifted sons
Flags were lowered to half mast at the Sydney Volvo Ocean Race village today, and a minute’s silence was observed as a mark of respect to one of offshore sailing’s most gifted sons.
Sir Peter competed in the first five Whitbread events, winning the 1989-90 event on the maxi ketch Steinlager II with an unprecedented sweep of all six legs. Many of the older competitors, such as former Steinlager II watch captain Ross Field and Ceramco New Zealand (Whitbread 1977-78) crew member Grant Dalton, knew Blake very well and will be especially hard hit by this news.
“It’s really sombre,” said VOR press officer Lizzie Green. “There are no smiles. Everyone is just in shock.” In addition to today’s minute of silence, a second minute will be observed on Boxing Day when the fleet leaves Sydney for the start of the Sydney-Hobart section of the next leg.
The leg ends in Auckland and organisers are working to ensure that the fleet’s arrival into Auckland, usually a scene of great jubilation regardless of the hour, is appropriately respectful.
VOR Chief Executive Helge Alten paid tribute to Blake for helping to place the Volvo Ocean Race where it is today – at the pinnacle of crewed ocean racing.
“Everyone is shocked and saddened by this tragic news,” said Alten. After paying tribute to Blake’s humility and welcoming nature, Alten added “Sir Peter Blake will always be remembered as one of the greatest sailors the world has seen through his achievements in all areas of the sport.”
“At this time our thoughts are with his family.”