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Volvo Ocean Race - Brunel add Louis Balcaen

Team Brunel have added Belgian star Louis Balcaen to their squad for the Leg 3 race into the Southern Ocean to Melbourne.

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.

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."

And the skipper hinted that Balcaen might not be the last sailor to come into the fold as the Race wears on.

"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.”

The seven-strong fleet heads into the Southern Ocean on Leg 3 next Sunday 10 December.

The leg is the first of three which feature double points – along with the stage from Auckland to Itajaí, and the Blue Ribbon transatlantic race from Newport to Cardiff.

There are nearly three times the Southern Ocean miles this edition than in the last race.

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