Twins in teamwork

Published on September 28th, 2020

The 470 Great Book is a showcase of the history and evolution of the 470 boat and charts its inception and design from the drawing board of André Cornu through to the present day. Twin brothers Tom and Wouten Van Essen (NED), winners of the 1971 470 World Championship, share the lessons they gained from competing in the 470 Class:


We grew up at a time when you had one mainsail, one jib, and one spinnaker. The accessories were not specified with brand names, but came with the boat. Sails were not rolled up but simply pushed into the sail bags. But the importance of teamwork, knowledge of the weather and the currents were the same as now. For teamwork, twins seemed to have an advantage. In 1972, the first three teams at the Worlds were twins.

We loved the 470 because the boat was so responsive to the way you sailed it. Lessons learned:
1. You have not won or lost the race until you have crossed the finish line.
2. Everything is possible.
3. Sailors tend to blame their boat for problems without realizing that they are responsible for it.
4. Do not get upset about a problem; instead find the cause and remedy.
5. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
6. The door of opportunity won’t open unless you do some pushing.
7. The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjust the sails.
8. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little Extra.
9. You cannot change the past but you can change the future.

Editor’s note: Twin sibling domination continued at the 1972 470 Worlds in Canada which saw Jan Eric and Sjoerd Steven Vollebregt (NED) winning, Philippe and Hubert Follenfant (FRA) in second, and the Van Essens in third.

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