Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Hans Horrevoets. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006.
by Lizzie (Green) Ward
It has been three years to the day since Han Horrevoets was washed over the side of ABN AMRO TWO and lost his life during leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06, but memories of the popular Dutchman are still strong.
It is in recognition of Hans’ work in developing young sailing talent onboard ABN AMRO TWO, that the Volvo Ocean Race has launched the Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy. The award, decided by the race committee based on nominations by each of the skippers currently racing, will be presented in St Petersburg at the finish of the race, to a rookie sailor who was younger than 30 when the event commenced.
In making their nominations, each skipper will choose sailors that have shown a significant drive to make an improvement to their own skills and to the skills of the team and have shown a significant contribution in strengthening the team onboard. The skippers will also determine whom their first pick would be from across the current fleet if they had to choose any rookie sailor under the age of 30 for the next race.
The second string of the ABN AMRO project was unique and ambitious, opting as it did to enter a boat crewed predominantly by rookies into the top level of offshore sailing. Hans, who had sailed the event in the 1997-98 edition, was an integral part of the campaign, helping to oversee the extensive ‘talent contest’ that whittled down 1,800 online applications to a handful of the most skilled young sailors from around the world.
Ultimately, he ended up sailing on the boat as well, enjoying great success along the way until tragedy struck in the Atlantic Ocean. But his legacy has been enhanced by the continued success of the sailors he helped to elevate in the world of sailing: Nick Bice and Gerd Jan Poortman are both part of Team Delta Lloyd, while Simon Fisher, one of the senior figures outside the ABN AMRO selection process, is signed up to Telefónica Blue.
Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race and previously a skipper in the event, says the trophy is a way of preserving the spirit of youth that Hans promoted so strongly.
“I got to know Hans through many years of round the world racing,” he said. “I am very pleased that this trophy in his memory will keep alive his spirit and enthusiasm towards pushing a new generation of sailors to reach their full potential.”
Both Bice and Fisher hope the lessons learnt from Hans’ death will help prevent similar accidents in the future.
“If anything, it has taught us all to be a lot safer out at sea and to be a lot more wary of what Mother Nature can throw at us,” Bice said. “Just that alone has had a great effect. We are all still thinking of Hans and hopefully we all get across the Atlantic this time incident free.”
Fisher added: “Lots of time has passed, but it’s all pretty clear in my mind. I don’t think I’ll ever forget him really. I won’t ever forget what happened on that leg.
“The memory of him is always with me when I’m sailing. I think for the sport it is important that we remember him and learn from happened in the hope that it won’t happen again. Hans was always a funny guy to have on the boat, enthusiastic, and a great sailor as well. He loved every minute of being on the boat.
“The whole ABN experience was great for helping young sailors and Hans was a big part of that.”
Volvo Ocean Race