A very sad day out here on the North Atlantic

Position: 46,47.73N , 28,17.59W

Speed: 18 knots, Course: 106 deg.

It was a very sad day out here on the North Atlantic. Words can not properly address the emotions that we all have inside of us, nor the magnitude of this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayer are with the crew of ABN2 and the family of Hans Horrevoets (NED), who left behind a wife and 2 year old daughter, I believe.

I will inform you of the events of the day.

First came word that there was a man over board situation, then the request for us to assist; we knew the situation was dire. Onboard the Black Pearl we immediately took down our spinnaker and began to turn back to assist ABN2. It is amazing how long this takes in the dark and 30 knots of wind. Alarming really. We battled upwind, putting reefs in our main. Then came word that the crew member had been recovered. Amazing! No word on his condition. We continue toward the location, then came word to stand down. We then turned back down wind to reorganize ourselves to resume racing. Then at about 0500 we got word that the crewmember concerned, had passed on. There was about 5 minutes of total silence in the pitch black of night as all ten of us huddled in the cockpit of the Black Pearl. Finally about an hour later, after next of kin had been notified, we learned that it was Hans who had perished. A very shocking and sobering three hours.

We have all thought about the possibility of falling over board. The reality is, that if you fall off of one of these boats the likelihood off being recovered is very low. It is a harsh world out here when it gets rough and these boats start doing excess of 30 knots. I think the crew of ABN2 should be given a special recognition from the highest levels of our sport for finding Hans in 40 minutes on a pitch black night with 4 meter waves.

Despite being in state of shock, we have been slowly ramping up our racing. First we had to get back into our watches. We were all hands on deck for about four hours so some guys did not sleep for 12 ours straight. Then we had to get the right sails up, keep the meal schedule going, and get back into our routine.

The wind came up to 40 knots today and the boat was getting pounded. Plenty of slamming and nose diving in the very short and steep waves. The force of the waves coming down the deck blew our main companionway hatch off its track. Another wave hit the stack of sails so hard it bent one of the stanchions over. The wind has abated no as the front has passed us so it will be a milder night, 25-30 knots are forecast. We are approaching tonight with an extra bit of caution.

We are all racing the boat but each of our minds drifts off to other thoughts. It will take a while to get back to 100% and it will be a night that none of us will ever forget.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean