The Volvo Ocean Race fleet marked a sad anniversary early on Leg 7 on Monday as they raced across the Atlantic, nine years to the day that the last sailor to lose his life in the event was drowned.

Dutchman Hans Horrevoets, 32, of ABN AMRO TWO, was the last of five fatalities in the history of the 41-year-old race and the tragedy serves as a vivid reminder to the sailors in the 2014-15 edition of the dangers of the race.

He was washed overboard at night, some 1,800 nautical miles (nm) from Lands End, England, on the New York to Portsmouth leg of the 2005-06 race. Although the crew recovered his body, they were not able to resuscitate him.

ABN AMRO TWO’s team then experienced further drama on the stage when they rescued the crew of movistar, the challenge led by Bouwe Bekking (NED), shortly before the Spanish-backed boat sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic.

Bekking, returning for a record-equalling seventh challenge in the 12th edition of the race on board Team Brunel, spoke of the dangers of the 2,800-nm transatlantic stage the fleet is now navigating, at the pre-departure press conference.

“If you just look at history in this next leg, lots of rigs have been broken, a boat has sunk, a person lost his life and we know we’re going to Europe, so people will push so hard on this leg,” he said.

The leg, which is expected to take about nine days to complete, had a spectacular start on Sunday with a master class of in-shore seamanship and strategy in front of a packed shoreline and huge flotilla of spectator boats in Newport, Rhode Island, on Sunday.