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24 December 2001, 04:47 pm
Skippers to Give Blake a Sailors Send-Off
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Leg Two Start

Volvo Ocean Race

Sir Peter Blake will be given "a sailor's send-off" before the start of the third leg of the round-the-world yacht race from Sydney to Auckland on Boxing Day.
Instead of heading to the start-line one by one, with their team music blaring, the eight boats in the fleet will leave the dock together in silence.

They will then form a circle with their sterns just off the dock, drop wreaths into the water and observe a minute's silence.

Blake, the five-time Whitbread round-the-world sailor and double America's Cup winner, was murdered in the Amazon this month.

Volvo Ocean Race director of logistics Chris Cooney said the idea for Blake's tribute came from New Zealanders Grant Dalton (Amer Sports One), Kevin Shoebridge (Tyco) and Ross Field (News Corp) - all close friends of Blake.

"They came up with the idea and then it was discussed with all the skippers, who were keen for a tribute," said Cooney.

He said there was a tremendous amount of respect for Blake throughout the yachting world, and his death was a huge loss.

"Sir Peter really wrote the book of ocean racing, and the sailors really wanted to give him their own send-off - a sailor's send-off."

Volvo Ocean Race chief executive Helge Alten said Blake would always be remembered as one of the greatest sailors the world had seen.

"His personal warmth and caring nature meant he was always an approachable figure and an inspiring personality."

Blake won the 1989-1990 round-the-world race on Steinlager 2.

Senior chaplain of the Mission to Seafarers, Tom Hill, will bless the boats before they leave the dock and begin their journey to Auckland.

The leg includes a short stop at Hobart where they will be joined by the fleet in the Sydney-to-Hobart race.

The round-the-world yachts are expected to arrive in Auckland about January 4.

Julie Ash/News Editor
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