A devastated crew aboard ABN AMRO Two explain the events of last night's tragedy 18/5/06

Earlier this morning, Hans Horrevoets (NED) was washed overboard from the deck of ABN AMRO Two as they raced across the North Atlantic on their way to Portsmouth, UK, in leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race. The young crew, who have sailed this boat so well, are devastated.

The boat was sailing downwind in 25 – 30 knots of wind under mainsail, fractional spinnaker and staysail. Sebastien Josse, skipper of ABN AMRO Two, was at the helm, Hans was trimming the spinnaker sheet, Nick Bice, Andrew Lewis and Lucas Brun were also on deck. A wave washed back down the deck and when the water cleared Hans was no longer on deck.

“We are all devastated by the events that took place this morning and all our thoughts are for Hans’ family,” said skipper Sebastien Josse. “I would like to stress that throughout the whole man overboard procedure, the crew handled themselves calmly, professionally and with the utmost maturity. It is with deep regret that we were unable to resuscitate Hans,” he commented.

ABN AMRO Two navigator Simon Fisher explains what happened:

“Immediately Seb hailed ‘man overboard’ and called everyone on deck while I remained below to put in place our man overboard procedures and GPS positioning. The spinnaker was immediately dropped, the staysail furled and the starboard daggerboard lowered. The engine was switched on and we attempted to motor-sail back on a reciprocal course. Due to the strong headwinds it was decided we drop the main, and go under motor alone as it was difficult to maintain a direct course to the man overboard position.

“Once Hans was located, Simeon Tienpoint put on his dry-suit, harness and diving gear in order to assist in the recovery. Once back on board Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK was notified that we had a major medical emergency and asked to stand by. In the meantime Hans was moved downstairs. No pulse was found so CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) was initiated by the crew’s medics George Peet and Nick Bice, assisted by Andrew Lewis, Lucas Brun and Luke Malloy, all of whom are medically trained for such emergencies. CPR was stopped at 0420 UTC.”

Speaking from race headquarters, Volvo Ocean Race CEO Glenn Bourke said: “All of us at the Volvo Ocean Race are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Hans Horrevoets. At this time our thoughts are with Hans’ family and friends, his fellow crew members and all the members of Team ABN AMRO.

“Ocean racing carries inherent risks and we do our utmost to minimize those risks with the mandatory safety equipment we have on board. However, when an accident like this occurs it is a shock to everyone associated with the race. The Volvo Ocean Race family is a close-knit community and we will all lend whatever support is needed at this tragic time.”

In Holland, Jan Berent Heukensfeldt Jansen, managing director of TEAM ABN AMRO said: “We are all shocked and devastated by this terrible news and our thoughts now are very much with Hans’ family. We are all aware of the risks that sailors face but nothing can prepare you for this kind of tragedy. My thoughts are also with the crew who I understand behaved in the most professional manner and reacted immediately and I wish them a safe passage home.”

ABN AMRO Two is 1420 nautical miles from Portsmouth. The boat is under sail and the crew are making their way towards landfall as quickly as possible where a decision will be made on their further participation in the race.