BALTIMORE (April 27, 2006)– After weeks of frustration watching all the action of the Volvo Ocean Race from the sidelines, Gerd Jan Poortman, the Dutch bowman on ABN AMRO TWO, will make his comeback from injury in Baltimore this Saturday, April 29. He will be joined in the crucial in port race in Chesapeake Bay by Australian watch captain Nick Bice, who missed the last leg due to a broken hand sustained during leg 4. The return of Gerd Jan and Nick is a huge boost for French skipper Seb Josse and his young crew, who will have to fight hard for every point through to the race finish in Gothenburg in June.
Gerd Jan, or “Johnny” as he is known by his teammates, suffered his injury on leg 3 when he was thrown violently along the deck by a wave and hurled against the daggerboard. He ended up arriving in Wellington with a dislocated coccyx and he later discovered he also cracked vertebrae. Because of this Johnny has been forced to sit out the last 10 weeks as he made his recovery. However, he was given the all clear by doctors in Holland last week after careful training and is ready to assist skipper Seb Josse in the tight battle for second spot against movistar, Pirates and Brasil 1.
Gerd Jan has been with TEAM ABN AMRO since the beginning of the project and is one of the most experienced young sailors onboard ABN AMRO TWO, having won the Admiral’s Cup and European Swan Championships as a bowman. Speaking from the team’s base in Baltimore as the kids prepare for this weekend’s crucial in port race in the Chesapeake Bay, Gerd Jan commented, “The hardest thing for me has been to have to sit and watch the guys sail off without being on board. It has never crossed my mind not to keep working as hard as I could to get back in shape to sail but I have also had to make sure that I don’t do long term damage to my back. It is going to be a big day for us on Saturday and I am really happy to be back with the team.”
Although absent for only one leg, the return of Nick Bice is a double bonus for ABN AMRO TWO. Nick, who knows the boat intimately from his time as boat captain during the construction phase, will return to his key position as watch captain. Looking ahead to the in port race, Nick noted, “The forecast at the moment is not ideal for us on Saturday but as we have learnt with these races, anything can happen. We know that we have a lot to do to keep our podium place but we are all really up for it and I am certainly looking forward to getting back out on the water.”
Seb Josse was lucky to have a skilled bowman on hand in Lucas Brun to replace Gerd Jan after the Wellington leg, and also called on the services of the experienced Yves Le Blevec when he lost Nick Bice in Rio. However, the French skipper is certainly pleased to welcome back his talented and talismanic crewmembers, announcing his selection to the team and adding, “We have a lot on now till the end of the race so it is pretty important that we all remain focused and fit till we sail into Gothenburg. We have been very lucky with the replacements that we have had, Yves was a great addition to the team but now we are happy to be up to strength with all 11 of the original crew ready to sail out on Saturday.”
The confirmed crew line up for ABN AMRO TWO in the in port race is as follows:
Seb Josse, France
Simon Fisher, UK
Gerd Jan Poortman, Netherlands
George Peet, USA
Andrew Lewis, USA
Luke Molloy, Australia
Simeon Tienpont, Netherlands
Nick Bice, Australia
Scott Beavis, New Zealand
Hans Horrevoets, Netherlands
Lucas Brun, Brazil
Following the in port race this Saturday, Seb Josse is expected to announce the crew line up for the sprint leg from Annapolis to New York and then the key transatlantic leg to Portsmouth next week.
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