This year marks the 30th anniversary of Dutchman Conny van Rietschoten’s second victory in the Whitbread Round the World Race, when his 76-foot Frers-designed maxi Flyer won both line and handicap honors. To mark the occasion, the Flyer crew is planning a grand reunion in Alicante, Spain, to coincide with the start of this year’s Volvo Ocean Race.
For many of the young men from that crew, and Conny’s previous Whitbread race winning S&S designed ketch also called Flyer who won handicap honors in the 77-78 Race, these campaigns were the starting point to glittering careers.
Conny van Rietschoten is now living in Portugal’s Algarve, surrounded by memories, mementos and pictures from those great years of ocean racing. Gerry Dijkstra, the Flyer navigator and watch leader in ’77-78, is now a world authority on superyacht design and rigs. Fellow Dutchman and watchleader Aedgard-Koeke-Koekebakker has since been cruising the world in his own built yacht. Grant Dalton, the sailmaker on Flyer in 1981-82, went on to win the Whitbread in his own right with NZ Endeavour in 1993-94 and is leading the Camper entry in this year’s Volvo race in between coordinating New Zealand’s next America’s Cup campaign in 2013. Erle Williams, who joined Flyer for the 1981-82 Race as an 18-year-old looking international sailing experience, has since made his mark at every level of the sport from the America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race, to racing maxi yachts like George David’s 100ft Rambler.
Onne van der Wal went on to become a successful photographer in Newport, RI. Bill Biewenga is now a world authority on marine weather systems and our very own monthly columnist at BWS. There are many more who have gone on to do many great things, but there are some whose wakes have faded. If you know where any of the unaccounted for Flyer crew members (listed below) are, please let them know about a reunion dinner to be held during the Volvo Legend’s Regatta, November 1st-5th in Alicante, on the eve of the start of the Volvo Ocean Race.
John Anderson – UK