Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tribute to Dutch Sailor- Conny van Rietschoten

Dutch sailor Conny von Riechstofen(The Hague, Netherlands)- Dutch sailor Conny van Rietschoten was a true pioneer in the sport of sailing.  As the only skipper to have won the Volvo Ocean Race (formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race) twice, Conny van Rietschoten (87 years) died on Tuesday (Dec. 17) at his residence in Portugal after suffering a stroke.  Born on March 23 in 1926, Van Rietschoten grew up in The Netherlands. A successful businessman, he was looking for a new challenge and found it in the second edition of the Whitbread.

He skippered Flyer I (S&S 65) in 1977-78, holding off main rival Kings Legend to win the race on corrected time. He returned in 1981-82 and again won on overall time with Flyer II (Frers 76) after a thrilling neck-and-neck battle with Kiwi adversaries Ceramco New Zealand.

Flyer II sailing Whitbread RaceKnown for undertaking extensive crew training before the race, he identified and gave several then-young sailors their first major break into professional sailing, including Erle Williams, Grant Dalton, Joe Allen all of whom went on to long careers in the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Races, America’s Cup and other professional events.

For crew morale, training and team-building, Conny famously bought two J/24s to keep at their training base in the Netherlands.  The FLYER crews were often seen on J/24s in all types of weather conditions, testing the limits of the crews as well as the boats!  It was not unusual to see them out in full gales with reefed mains and jibs pulling up spinnakers sailing just offshore in the English Channel!  We’re sorry to hear of Conny’s passing and wish his family and friends well.