Sir Peter Blake, New Zealand’s most famous sailor, competed in the first 5 Whitbread Round…
Cornelis “Conny” van Rietschoten is the only skipper to win the Whitbread Round the World Race twice.
At 45, the Dutch industrialist had read reports about the first Whitbread Race, saw it as the opportunity of a lifetime – and grabbed it with both hands entering in the 1977–78 Whitbread Round the World Race.
What set him apart from established sailing names was the business approach he brought to his campaigns. His eight-year tenure at the top of the sport spelled the end of amateur gung-ho ocean racing entries for he set levels of professionalism within the sport that were not repeated until Peter Blake also won every leg with his Steinlager 2 in the 1989–90 Whitbread Round the World Race.
His first Whitbread campaign sailed in the 65ft (19.8m) ketch Flyer saw his crew surprise everyone by winning the first leg into Cape Town. There was no surprise by the time they returned to Portsmouth as overall winners.
Van Rietschoten returned for the 1981/2 Whitbread, this time with a 76ft (23m) maxi yacht also called Flyer, with the intention of winning line honours and to set a new record.
The crew did that with ease, finishing 1st into every port, and setting a new record for the circumnavigation of 120 days. What surprised everyone was that Conny and his crew also won the race on handicap too – the first crew to win both line and handicap honours in the history of the Race. Van Rietschoten and his crew also set two world records: The fastest Noon to Noon run of 327 miles, and the fastest circumnavigation of 120 days.
Since the 1980s the Conny van Rietschoten Trophy has been awarded each year to recognise the best Dutch sailor.