Sailing: Volvo race sailor dies in heavy seas

The highly experienced Dutch sailor Hans Horrevoets, 32, was killed yesterday when washed overboard from ABN Amro 2 on the seventh leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. No statement was made about whether he was wearing a safety harness.

The boat was travelling at high speed in 30-knot winds, about 1,300 miles from Land's End on the way from New York to Portsmouth. At about 03.11 BST, the boat nose-dived into waves estimated at 15 feet high, sending tonnes of water washing over the deck. Horrevoets, with skipper Sebastien Josse at the helm and three others on deck, was adjusting the spinnaker. The waves cleared, but Horrevoets had disappeared.

Josse called man overboard, a well-rehearsed procedure was immediately activated by British navigator Simon Fisher, and the sails were dropped as the boat, under engine, was turned back upwind on a reciprocal course. But it could have taken nearly an hour until Horrevoets was found floating face down in the water. Crewman Simeon Tienpoint put on a dry suit and harness to go into the water to help recover the body and drag it aboard.

Although cardio-pulmonary resuscitation was initiated, it failed to revive Horrevoets. The boat has abandoned racing mode and is sailing towards land. A decision on whether ABN Amro 2 will continue on the last two legs to home port Rotterdam and on to the finish in Gothenburg is being taken.

Horrevoets leaves a partner, who is five months' pregnant, and a daughter, who recently celebrated her first birthday. He had joined the ABN Amro 2 crew just ahead of the start of the race in Vigo last November.