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Flying Dutchman Van Rietschoten dies aged 87

ALICANTE, Spain (Reuters) - Dutchman Conny van Rietschoten, the only skipper to have won the Volvo Ocean Race twice in its 40-year history, has died aged 87.

Van Rietschoten claimed the second and third editions of offshore sailing's leading round-the-world professional race in 1977-78 and 1981-82 on board Flyer I and Flyer II, the latter despite suffering a heart attack in the Southern Ocean.

He insisted on keeping his condition secret from his rivals and even refused shore assistance in case they found out and sensed they could take advantage.

"The New Zealanders (in Ceramco) were breathing down our necks," he later told reporters after winning the event then known as the Whitbread Round the World Race. "If they had known I had a health problem, they would have pushed their boat even harder.

"The nearest port was 10 days away and the critical period is always the first 24-36 hours. When you die at sea, you are buried over the side. Perhaps those Ceramco crew might then have spotted me drifting by. I was determined that that would be the only thing they would see or hear from Flyer on the matter!"

Van Rietschoten's death from a stroke in the early hours of Tuesday was announced by his family 24 hours later.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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