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Scuttlebutt: George Peet Interview

George Peet
Photos: © TEAM ABN AMRO/Jon Nash
The crew on ABN AMRO TWO is comprised of high potential sailors younger than 31 who have yet to sail around the world, but who have extensive sailing experience. Seven of the eleven crew members have been chosen through a very tough and careful selection process. Originally 1,800 resumes were sent in from an open web competition. Of this group, an initial 80 candidates competed in crew selections all around the world, and were finally narrowed down to these seven.

Crew TWO is given the same equipment, training and provisions as the crew ONE to give them the best possible chance in the Volvo Ocean Race. They will sail the ABN AMRO TWO, a first-generation Volvo 70 boat.

While the VOR crews were in Rio de Janeiro preparing for the In-port race, Scuttlebutt caught up with one of the ABN AMRO TWO crew who emerged through the selection trials, American George Peet, to find out how this unique team was doing at the midpoint of the race. Read on:

Did the crew selection process prepare you for what you have experienced thus far?
The crew selection was really pretty weak, especially the first trial in Miami. Hans Hoorevoets (who now sails with us), Maurice Pardenkooper (Dutch Olympic coach), and Roy Heiner were our selectors, and I think they were mainly looking for raw sailing talent but also personalities. Both Roy and Hans having done the Volvo in the past, and I think they realized the need for a group of people who could get along and would share a common goal, as well as the idea that most of the sailing can be learned as long as the fundamentals were in place. Hence the selection of a team of nearly all dinghy sailors. So at the end of the day, the selection period really had no bearing at all on the preparation for the Volvo, but only the selection for the second team.

At this stage of the race, some of the other teams seem to be having trouble with their crew chemistry. Do you think your crew trials have helped to insure that ABN AMRO TWO meshes as a team?

The crew selection didnít ďinsure chemistry.Ē I mean, we have had two guys quit since the beginning. I do think it was advantageous, however, to have a team of unproven guys. We all want to be here, so I think we do a better job of not only sailing but also making sure that we get along. We realized early on that it would be a long trip around if we hated each other, so we have all made a big effort to become friends and know each other really well. Being very close in age also helps. Even though we have a very international group, our interests are very similar.

Photos: © TEAM ABN AMRO/Jon Nash
What has been your biggest surprise so far?

I think the biggest surprise is how well we are doing. During our two boat testing we performed a lot 8 minute tests where ABN ONE would always be 60 meters up and 300+ ahead or downwind 80 down and 200 ahead. Sometimes it was really bad and we would hear Stan Honey say, ďAbort, we have lost telemetry, weíll need to re-do this pair.Ē These testing periods, coupled with our crew mistakes while learning to sail the boat, plus having the likes of Paul Cayard and Bouwie Bekking show up, was pretty intimidating.

However, the best thing about our team is that there was never any self doubt. We knew that we had a fast boat and good sails, especially after the first leg. Getting second in the first leg helped to build our confidence further and so far keep it on the podium.

Outside of the ABN AMRO boats being the only non-Farr boats, what else is distinctive about the ABN AMRO program compared to the other teams that would attribute to the success so far?

I think Mike Sandersonís approach to managing the program coupled with Roy Heinerís back stage role is really clutch to our campaign. Mike has a good management style that really depends on his team and his people believing in him, so what he says goes and it doesnít take a lot of convincing on his part. Everyone does their job to the best of their ability, so it isnít like pulling teeth. People are excited to be here and be a part of this campaign. Roy relinquished a lot of control to Mike early on, and given Dutch mannerisms, I am sure that was hard. But they are both really smart guys and good sailors, so they struck a good balance early on and it continued to work out. This is really what makes the two boat team go.

Additionally, Roy Heinerís selection of Seb Josse as our skipper has been paramount to the success of the white boat (ABN AMRO TWO). Seb is absolutely awesome; he and SiFI (Simon Fisher), our navigator, have a really good working relationship, they obviously think along the same lines, and have always come up with winning plans to keep us in the game. I really canít say enough about Seb and the way that he manages our team. Albeit laissez- faire, Seb still takes control and definitely knows how to sail apparent wind boats offshore as well as manage a group of twenty-five year olds.

Photos: © TEAM ABN AMRO/Jon Nash
What will it be like coming to the US for the next two stops?

Overwhelming, to say the least. I really want to stay in my VOR bubble and not have to deal with family, friends, and the press. It is very distracting and stressful. You always feel like you have to see everyone, spend lots of time with them, and entertain them. This is the last thing I want to do. I want to have my work schedule, go sailing, and when I am done I want to be done, then maybe go to the gym, check my e-mail, have dinner, a few beers, and go to bed.

Have you plans for after the VOR is done in June?

I currently donít have any plans for after the race. I am hoping to be involved with an offshore project, but these are few and far between. I see myself more likely sailing TP 52ís probably in the US, and also getting back into the Lightning, Thistle, Melges 24, and J22 classes. I really miss dinghy and small keelboat sailing.

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