Movistar Abandoned, Crew Aboard ABN AMRO 2

The Transatlantic phase of the Volvo Race has taken a heavy toll on the fleet of Volvo 70s and their crews. Three days after ABN AMRO 2 lost crewmember Hans Horrevoets, they rescue the entire crew of Movistar from their sinking vessel.

First, the crew of ABN AMRO 2 lost crewmember Hans Horrevoest overboard in heavy running conditions on May 18, and in a stunning display of seamanship, brought him back aboard within 40 minutes. Although they were unable to revive Horrevoets, they were bringing their shipmate home to his family. Then, three days later, another unthinkable event. After long hours spent trying to repair damage to their canting keel mechanism, the crew of Movistar realized it was all to naught as water began pouring into their boat. Realizing they were fighting a losing battle, and knowing weather conditions were forcast to worsen, skipper Bouwe Bekking issued a "Pan Pan" distress call. "This morning we gybed over on the other board to check how the keel would cope with that angle," said Bekking in an email to race headquarters. "Straight away we saw that the water intake nearly doubled and had to start the second emergency pump. That made me realise that we were actually in way bigger trouble. We had survived for nearly 24 hours, but in light winds and the seas had calmed down, but with a forecast of 35 to 40 knots and peaking up to 50, I just wasn't sure the boat would hold out."Two Volvo 70s were close enough to help, Brunel and ABN AMRO 2. The closest was the crew of ABN AMRO 2. ABN 2's skipper Sebastien Josse ordered the boat turned around and headed back East toward the stricken Movistar. In another feat of seamanship by both crews, Movistar's 10 sailors, along with personal and safety gear, were shuttled to ABN 2 in one of Movistar's liferafts. "Seb and his crew have been fantastic over the last 24 hours," said Bekking. "We all realised that turning around had been a very hard call for them, and hopefully they can find a little comfort that they have saved ten lives. A boat is just a boat, you can replace it, but lives you cannot. Saying thank you is not big enough right now, it is more than that. I am sure we get even a better friendship with them all."As of 1700 GMT Sunday, ABN 2 was 356 miles from the finsh line in Portsmouth, England, sailing at 18 knots of boatspeed. They've asked the crew of Movistar to make themselves at home, but not to assist them in sailing the boat to Portsmouth, as they'd like to keep racing. Before crossing the finish line they have one final appointment. Sometime Monday, if the weather allows, they'll rendevous with a Dutch naval vessel, which will take Hans Horrevoets home. www.volvooceanrace.org