Racing community mourns Whitbread sailor

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Conny van Rietschoten, two-time winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race, died Dec. 17 at his Portugal home after suffering a stroke. He was 87.

A successful businessman, the Dutch sailor was looking for a new challenge and found it in the second edition of the Whitbread, now known as the Volvo Ocean Race.

He skippered Flyer I in 1977-78, holding off rival Kings Legend to win the race on corrected time, according to an obituary in scuttlebutt.com. He returned for the 1981-82 edition won on overall time with Flyer II after battling Kiwi adversaries Ceramco New Zealand.

Van Rietschoten is the only skipper to win two editions of the race and was the first to win on both elapsed and corrected time. He is also the only Dutch skipper to have won the race.

“The Flyer crew are saddened to hear of the passing of our great friend Conny,” said Grant Dalton, one of his crew on Flyer II and now manager of America's Cup syndicate Team New Zealand.

“Nearly all of us can track our careers to Conny. We were all young, restless, most of us totally unproven and yet Conny took a chance on us. He allowed us to be ourselves, sometimes guiding us, sometimes coming down hard on us. He taught us how it was going to be done in the future and he introduced a professional business approach to offshore sailing. He was indeed a pioneer.”

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