MAPFRE have completed their squad for the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, announcing a last minute addition – America's Cup sailor Louis Sinclair – at a presentation in Sanxenxo, Spain.
The Antiguan athlete joins a team led by skipper Xabi Fernández and featuring six nationalities.
The team were formally presented at the Real Club Náutico de Sanxenxo on Thursday, at en event attended by Spain's former King Juan Carlos I and Princess Elena.
The fifth consecutive Spanish Volvo Ocean Race campaign put together by Pedro Campos, MAPFRE could become the first ever Spanish winner of the race in 2017-18, and begins the edition as one of the pre-race favourites for the trophy.
Xabi, who is making his fifth appearance in the race, is joined by watch leaders Pablo Arrarte and Rob Greenhalgh; navigator Joan Vila; Antonio 'Ñeti' Cuervas-Mons, Willy Altadill, Sophie Ciszek, Támara Echegoyen, Neal McDonald, and America's Cup winner Blair Tuke – who could become the first sailor in history to win the Triple Crown.
"This time the race returns to its Southern Ocean roots, and that is a great incentive for us – as sailors, we like it very much," said Xabi. "The Southern Ocean is always dangerous, and it's necessary to retain a balance between pushing and being conservative, but this time we will have extra incentive to push as hard as we can because these legs and the transatlantic score double points."
Having sailed part of the race on winning boat Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during the 2014-15 edition, Sinclair is no stranger to the Volvo Ocean Race – and after that successful campaign he played a key part in Oracle Team USA’s defence of the America’s Cup.
"It feels great to join the team, I've only been with them for one week, but it’s a really easy going team, easy to get along with, and I think we’ll do well during the race," said Sinclair.
"People know me from the America's Cup, but most of my experience is offshore. I've raced onboard Leopard, and did a couple of legs with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the last race. I'm looking forward to getting back offshore.
"We have a really strong team, and get along well. We need to see how the first leg goes and we’ll get an idea quickly of which teams are going to be the strongest – but anything can happen during the race, and one thing's for sure, it’s going to be close."
Campos, who first challenged for the Volvo Ocean Race title with movistar in 2005-06, and has returned for every edition since with Spanish campaigns Telefónica Blue and Telefónica Black in 2008-09, Team Telefónica in 2001-12 and MAPFRE's first tilt at the trophy in 2014-15.
Speaking at the event, he said: "The number one objective of this team is to finish the round the world race bringing our crew back safely and, if possible, to finish ahead of our rivals.
"As I always say to Xabi, there is always a small chance that we will not win the Volvo Ocean Race, but what we are certain of is that we will leave the name of Spain and the name of MAPFRE in very high esteem."