Team Brunel have boosted their options for the Southern Ocean leg from Cape Town to Melbourne with the addition of Belgian sailor Louis Balcaen.
The 29-year-old, who raced onboard the Dutch boat in 2014-15 with Bouwe Bekking and Andrew Cape, makes a total of four Under 30 sailors on Brunel – and adds key offshore experience to a team brimming with young talent.
Balcaen steps onboard in place of Maciel Cicchetti for Leg 3, a switch that Bouwe Bekking explains was planned since before the race began.
"It’s a great opportunity for me to sail with some very experienced sailors again and at the same time with some very talented young sailors such as Peter, Kyle and Carlo,” he said.
“Of course I hope to be able to teach them something, but I am convinced that I will certainly start to learn a lot from them too.”
Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking explained why he has chosen to make the switch ahead of what will be an incredibly tough 6,500 mile race through the Southern Ocean on Leg 3.
“Louis couldn’t sail the first two legs due to other obligations, but for everyone in our team it was clear that he was part of the plan, and would join in Cape Town,” he said.
"He’s one of the best helmsmen I know, and the moment we started this campaign it was clear to me that I wanted him on board. He has always been part of the plan that we had and I see Louis as an exponent of the next talented generation. His experience brings that extra piece of the puzzle."
And the skipper hinted that Balcaen might not be the last sailor to come into the fold as the Race wears on.
"We’ve chosen to announce the starting nine people plus Juanpa Marcos, who has sailed the entire preparation with us first. In addition, we now have Louis onboard from Cape Town, and also Jens Dolmer on standby in case we need him.
“But there are still a number of sailors with whom we have very clear agreements for moments later in the race. Compare it with a football team, depending on the circumstances, you set up the strongest team for a particular stage.”