New Zealand-born, raised in Antigua and under 30. Louis Sinclair has landed in Cape Town to substitute Ñeti Cuervas-Mons in the next leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. He joins the team today.

© María Muiña/MAPFRE

After a long drive to Wellington, three flights and more than 24 hours travelling from New Zealand, a beaming Louis arrived at Cape Town international airport.

Despite being just 26 years old, Louis has extensive experience sailing big boats, surprising in one so young. Born in New Zealand, Louis was brought up on the small island of Antigua, where sailing was simply an after-school activity.

Sinclair is special. His hobbies include fishing, diving, sailing and wild-honey retrieving, or as he explains, collecting honey from wild hives.

His physical fitness is undeniable.

Louis was the strongest guy in the last America’s Cup,” declares MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández. The same words he used the first time Louis arrived at the team base in Sanxenxo, in August.

“The two years in Bermuda were a breather from offshore sailing, but as soon as the Cup finished, I was back. I did the Transpac, where I was training the guys, then I did the Middle Sea Race and a few other things, so I have been quite busy in the last few months. This is a total change from inshore sailing, but I have had time to refresh my memory,” says the smiling New Zealander.

The Volvo Ocean Race is not a new experience. A reserve crew member for Ian Walker, he jumped on board in similar circumstances, completing two legs in the last edition of the race 2014-15 (Auckland-Brazil and Lisbon–Lorient) in fact, the former being the legendary, and most sought-after rounding of Cape Horn.

Now onboard MAPFRE, in this edition he will also make his début in the Southern Ocean, one of the longest legs in the race: 6500 miles from Cape Town to Melbourne.

Last time around, I was a little nervous, it’s different now,” he admits, I am expecting it to be similar to last time. It is fabulous because just a short time ago I was training with  them, and they are all really good. We get on really well, and they are a really fun team to sail with.

The best about being a reserve

It would obviously be wonderful to sail with the team full-time, but the next best thing is to be a reserve, because you can go home, and do all the things you couldn’t when you don’t have any free time. Yet you have the advantage of being part of a team, and doing a few legs. It is also really good that when you show up, your mindset is ‘two weeks at sea, 14 days and that’s it’. The others have to spend the next 7-8 months offshore. It is a completely different mindset to mine, for me it is more of a sprint than a long-distance stint”.

On Monday, the MAPFRE team returns to their training after a well-deserved rest. So what happens now for Louis?

I will be with the team,and do whatever needs to be done, I guess I will have a look at the boat,”concludes the smiling under-30, ahead of his first day “in the office”.