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Five Volvo Ocean Race Teams Face Off In Round Britain Test

Posted on 31 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Iker Martinez’s Spanish team will try out potential new crew members as they make their way to the UK for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race this week.

The event, which starts on August 9 and is preceded by Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, will see five of the new, one-design Volvo Ocean 65 boats navigate Britain’s 1,800 miles of notoriously tricky coastline.

Four other teams – Team SCA, Team Alvimedica, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Dongfeng Race Team – will join Martinez’s crew at the start line of what is the final competitive test before the beginning of the Volvo Ocean Race in October.

And the Spaniard has drafted in Guillermo ‘Willy’ Altadill and Carlos Hernández to join his team for the practice race – as the pair attempts to secure a permanent place on board.

The Spanish team are currently some way behind their rivals in terms of preparation, and the skipper is relishing the opportunity to blood some new talent.

“We’d like to try 10 more guys but we just don’t have the time – that’s the problem with such a tight schedule,” he said.

At 21 and 27 respectively, the pair would both fill Under 30’s spots on board – but despite their relative youth, Martínez believes that they could prove to be valuable additions to his crew.

“They are good sailors, and have a lot of experience with large boats,” he said. “We have sailed together over the last few days, and both of them have performed very well. They are young, fit and possess a lot of technical ability.”

Meanwhile, Dongfeng Race Team have packed up their Lorient training base and are currently en route to the UK.

The trip is a particularly exciting one for their Chinese sailors, who have never visited the islands before.

“Multiple Chinese crew will take part in the race, which is a major step forward for China in terms of offshore sailing,” said Team Director, Bruno Dubois.

“There is still a lot to do but if we look at the big picture and our long-term goal, this is a first success,” he added.

“I am proud that in just six months, we’ve managed to reach this point.”

This week’s journey also represents a landmark occasion for Team SCA, who have waved goodbye to their Lanzarote training base after 18 months.

The girls are now well into their estimated eight-day sail to the UK, and Onboard Reporter Corinna Halloran believes that the trip is providing important practice for the race proper.

“We are well into a daily routine,” she said. “A routine that will sustain us for days during this delivery, but will sustain us for weeks during the longest of the legs.”

Having arrived in Southampton following a successful transatlantic crossing from Rhode Island, USA last week, Team Alvimedica have taken the opportunity to enjoy a well-earned break.

Skipper Charlie Enright was delighted with the performance of his team during the voyage, and believes that the unpredictable conditions they encountered only served to strengthen the spirit of his crew.

“I think the trip was incredible for the dynamic. It was the first time with eight crew members, and every little change had an effect in a positive direction,” he said.

“The Round Britain and Ireland Race is the next step for the team. We are using it as training, and trying to learn and hone our skills. It’s a big opportunity, and one we’re excited about.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing joined the Rhode Islanders on that transatlantic trip, and will also sail in the race around Britain.

The crew’s Emirati sailor, Adil Khalid, led their Eid festivities this week – and there was double cause for celebration as skipper Ian Walker announced the crew’s ‘One4Azzam’ competition winner.

Keith Burhans, a 58-year-old paralympian from the USA, secured the most votes in the online contest, and will now take his place on board Azzam for the 50-mile Artemis Challenge in Cowes on August 7th.

“Getting the chance to sail with them is a dream come true – a real bucket-list opportunity,” he said.

Meanwhile, as the rest of the teams prepare to test themselves offshore, Team Brunel are staying firmly on land in order to ensure that they are in the best possible shape for the race.

Along with fitness trainer Dominic Ramino, the crew have been putting in the hours at the gym, and their experienced skipper Bouwe Bekking feels that his team could reap the benefits of that physical superiority when it comes to the big race.

“We have been in the gym every morning for five months. With the help of Ramino, we will stand strong at the start in Alicante,” he said.

And as the beginning of the first leg draws nearer, Pablo Díaz-Munio has been appointed as Race Doctor for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.

Having worked closely with Ericsson Racing Team in 2008-9, and been the Official Team Doctor for Team Teléfonica in 2011-12, the Spaniard knows all too well the challenges that a race around the world can pose.

“In an event this extreme, minor problems can become major problems, and major problems can become emergencies,” he said.

Díaz-Munio has also accompanied record-breaking mountaineer Edurne Pasaban on three Himalayan campaigns.

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Photo gallery: Team Brunel training in Lanzarote

Posted on 28 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Fresh from their victory at the Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race, the Dutch team had yet another spectacular photo-shoot session off Lanzarote with top photographer Sander van der Borch:

Team Brunel trains less than three months before the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Lanzarote, 23 July 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

Team Brunel trains less than three months before the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Lanzarote, 23 July 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

Team Brunel trains less than three months before the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Lanzarote, 23 July 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

Team Brunel trains less than three months before the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Lanzarote, 23 July 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

Team Brunel trains less than three months before the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Lanzarote, 23 July 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

Team Brunel trains less than three months before the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Lanzarote, 23 July 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

Team Brunel trains less than three months before the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Lanzarote, 23 July 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

Team Brunel trains less than three months before the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Lanzarote, 23 July 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

Team Brunel trains less than three months before the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Lanzarote, 23 July 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

Team Brunel trains less than three months before the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Lanzarote, 23 July 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

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Team Brunel strikes first blow in the Volvo Ocean Race

Posted on 23 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Team Brunel] On Saturday July 19th the starting gun was fired for the Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race. The 670 mile yacht race led the fleet in three days around the Canary Islands.

After the start Team Brunel took the second place in the first contest between three brand new VO65-racers. The Spanish Team Campos of skipper Iker Martinez took the lead shortly after the start and the ladies of Team SCA started last. Sunday morning Team Brunel grabbed the lead from Team Campos. After that Bouwe Bekking and his men built their lead rapidly to over 10 miles.

Monday morning the Dutch boat doubled their lead at the Spanish team to more than 20 miles. “We are sailing at the most southwestern tip of the archipelago. At this time we could not see Team Campos and Team SCA. Last night we were smoking,” navigator Andrew Cape reported from the boat. It was enough for the victory in the first Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race. Team Brunel crossed the finish line at full speed in a pitch black Monday evening for the coast of Marina Rubicón at Lanzarote.

Rokas Milevičius: “The race was really fun, with various conditions. We had strong wind, light wind, no wind and we sailed up- and downwind. We knew exactly what to expect, because Andrew “Capey” Cape has done this race before. He did a great job in preparing the race. We knew where the wind would die and where the wind would increase. The speed of the three VO65’s was almost the same during the beginning of the race. After the start we sailed a few miles close together. During the first night we had a lot of wind up to 30 knots.

We were pushing harder than Team Campos and Team SCA. We did some good sail changes, and after rounding Lanzarote we took the lead. At sunrise we could not see the Spanish boat anymore. But a few miles later we were parked in an area with no wind. We hoped that they would not overtake us from behind, but they parked first. Luckily we found the first wind. Clearly Capey has given us the victory.”

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Team Campos takes early lead of Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race

Posted on 19 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

One could argue that the starting gun for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race was fired on Saturday noon off Marina Rubicón in Lanzarote and Team Campos, skippered by Iker Martínez took the early lead. The Spanish team might the latest entry, officially announced a month ago, but with a crew that counts some of the world’s best offshore sailors it is certain they will make giant strides forward.

Iker Martínez and his crew, with French legend Michel Desjoyeaux onbaord as coach, had a perfect start at the pin end and got off the starting line with full pace. The red boat took the lead immediately and started the 670-nm circumnavigation of the Canary archipelago, in front of Team Brunel and Team SCA.

Lanzarote delivered and the race got underway with a nice 15 knots of northerly breeze. The reaching start made it even difficult for our photo boat to follow the brand new VO65′s that were blasting along the southwestern coast of Lanzarote. Having followed for just a few miles, less than 1% of the entire race, it will be difficult to draw any credible conclusions. However, if there were one point that stood out, that would be the shocking start of Team SCA. Sam Davies and her crew must have gotten their pre-start timing completely wrong and less than 20 seconds before the start, the Swedish VO65 was 300 meters behind the line, stalled. As a result, Team SCA started their first stand off against the other VO65′s at least half a minute late!

What was meant to be THE photo of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race edition, that is the three VO65′s crossing the starting line together, will have to wait. According to Michel Desjoyeaux, Team Campos had estimated it would need approximately 62 hours to complete the race and by Tuesday morning we will have much clearer indications on the VO65′s and the Volvo Ocean Race form guide while for sure, the three participating teams will have a wealth of information to digest and ponder upon in the debriefings…

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

Start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race. Marina Rubicón, 19 July 2014. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

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The stage is set for the Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

With Team Brunel and Team Campos docked in Marina Rubicón, making the finals tweaks to their VO65′s, and with the expected arrival of Team SCA, early on Saturday morning, everything is ready for the start of the inaugural Round Canary Islands Race.

The route of the Round Canary Islands Race is fairly simple. The start will be given a few hundred meters off the Marina Rubicón entrance, which is located at the southernmost tip of Lanzarote. The VO65′s will then head north and round the archipelago’s seven main islands and handful of smaller islets with a straightforward rule. Boats have to leave all islands to starboard, round the archipelago and return to Marina Rubicón.

The Canary islands being in the trade wind belt, the prevailing wind is northeasterly throughout the year, being strongest in July and August and lightest in October and November. The high volcanic islands cause some local variations in both wind direction and strength. As a rule, there are different winds in the lee of the islands compared to the coasts exposed to the trade winds. When the NE trades are blowing strongly, an opposing wind usually blows on the other side of the island, varying in strength with the strength of the trade wind. A funnelling effect is also felt along the coasts of some of the mountainous islands and the trades can be accelerated by up to 15 knots in places.

After crossing the starting line, the fleet will head upwind to the northernmost islet of the archipelago, the volcanic islands of Alegranza. After rounding Alegranza, the VO65′s will head south, sailing along the east coastline of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. They will then embark on a westward route towards El Hierro, the westernmost island of the Canaries, that will first take them south of Gran Canaria.

Common sense would dictate that navigators would choose a route that minimizes distance. However, the island of Tenerife and its imposing Teide mountain cast a wind shadow that extends tens of miles south of the island. Teide has an altitude of 3,718 meters, making it the highest mountain in Spain and one of the highest in Europe. With a surface of more than 2,000 km2, Tenerife’s impact on the atmosphere is such that the fleet will have to sail further south. Navigators will have to find the sweet spot between minimizing distance and maximizing speed.

Rounding the island of El Hierro will be another critical point. Going too close to the shore could come with a heavy price as the boats could find themselves trapped in a hole for hours with hardly any breeze. Once past El Hierro, the VO65′s will again sail upwind, towards La Palma, their final rounding point. From that point, the fleet will have a 200-mile stretch of nearly straight-line reaching to the finish line, off the Marina Rubicón.

NASA’s satellite photo, taken exactly 13 months ago, clearly shows the effect the land masses have on the prevailing trade winds. The breeze is funneled between the islands but becalmed to the south of them.

Telefonica training route – August 2011

Team Telefonica had established in 2011 its training base in Marina Rubicón, in view of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, and rounding the Canary archipelago was, obviously, part of its training schedule. The Google Map here below isn’t a simple approximation of a possible route but represents the exact trace of the Spanish VOR70 in the training session that started on August 17, 2011 and lasted exactly 52 hours and 21 minutes.

Although the Telefonica VOR70 wasn’t in racing mode, as the three VO65′s will be from tomorrow, her route gives a very good idea of what the three teams will be doing during the weekend. It will also be interesting to see how the brand new VO65′s compare to the VOR70′s and this will be the very first time such a precise reference exists.

Conditions during Telefonica’s training session in 2011 were quite brisk and the Spanish VOR70 was doing most of the time 20kt with peaks of 25kt. The only major setback the Spanish team suffered, was getting trapped, nearly windless, south of El Hierro for approximately one hour.

Conditions during the following three days are expected to be very similar to the ones Telefonica experienced three years ago and given the fact the VO65′s are considered to be, on average, 10%-15% slower than their predecessors, organizers expect a duration of about 58 hours for the Round Canary Islands Race. The winning boat is expected to cross the finish line in the wee hours of Tuesday.

Stay tuned here for more exhaustive coverage of the Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race, starting at Saturday noon.

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Marina Rubicón sets ambitious goal with Round Canary Islands Race

Posted on 15 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

A brand new offshore race will see the light this weekend off Marina Rubicón, in Lanzarote, Spain, as a local ORC fleet and no less than three VO65′s will embark on the inaugural edition of the Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race.

As its name implies, the participating fleet will set off in front of Marina Rubicón, round the seven Canary islands and finish again off Marina Rubicón, covering a total of, approximately, 650 nautical miles. Conditions are expected to be varied and crews will have a full plate during the three racing days.

Three VO65′s, half the six-strong fleet that will take part in the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race, will be on the starting line off Marina Rubicón at 12pm local time on Saturday. This will also make it the very first time the brand new one-designs will line up against each other and will certainly provide a unique opportunity to gauge their performance in view of the start in Alicante, less than three months from now.

Team Brunel, skippered by Bouwe Bekking, is an obvious participant as the Dutch team call Marina Rubicón their home, having established a training base there a few months ago.

Team SCA will also sail on familiar waters as their training base is also in Lanzarote, a few miles north of Marina Rubicón. It will be very interesting to evaluate how the all-female crew measures up to their all-male opponents. Team SCA’s squad is now complete with 15 women from five nations representing, without an doubt, the best of the best in female offshore sailing. In addition, Team SCA is the best-funded of the six participating teams in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race and its crew has thousands of ocean miles under their belts, a lot of them in two-boat training mode against a modified VOR70.

The third participant will, undoubtedly, be the one to take a close look at. Pedro Campos’ Team Campos, skippered by Spanish champion Iker Martinez, will actually make their first public appearance after officially announcing their participation less than a month ago. Despite having a star-studded crew they lack the training time their opponents have had so far. The Spanish VO65 is currently on her way to Lanzarote, having left her base in northern Spain on Monday.

What will certainly catch our attention on Saturday, and that of our camera, will certainly be Michel Desjoyeaux! Team Campos has just announced that the French offshore sailing legend will be onboard in order to coach the team and help in their preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race.

Although the focus will be on the VO65′s, a fleet of local ORC’s is also expected to take part in this first edition of the race and organizers have set an ambitious goal to make this bi-annual race the European equivalent of the Caribbean RORC 600. The Canary Islands certainly have the conditions to make this happen and one can only hope that a few years from now the Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race will have become a permanent feature in the European sailing season.

VSail.info will, obviously be there in order to provide full coverage. Stay tuned for two days, Friday and Saturday, of in-depth reports, photos and interviews from Marina Rubicón. If conditions allow it, we will follow the three VO65′s during the initial dozens of miles of the race.

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Destination England for Abu Dhabi and Team Alvimedica

Posted on 10 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Two rival Volvo Ocean Race crews have set out for transatlantic crossings from Newport, Rhode Island to the United Kingdom this week as preparations for the event start in October continued to heat up.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica are strictly forbidden under Volvo Ocean Race rules to compete against each other over such a trip, but were given permission to start their transatlantic passages on Wednesday at the same time in a ‘promotional start’ watched by hundreds of Newport sailing fans.

The Emirati-backed crew led by Britain’s Ian Walker was in buoyant mood ahead of Wednesday’s departure for Gosport in England after a short break following its 3,116 nautical mile trip from Portugal to Rhode Island.

That crossing threw up some unique moments including an unexpected three-blast salute from the famous ocean liner RMS Queen Mary 2 – the flagship of the Cunard Line – which overhauled the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Azzam boat as both navigated around a zone of icebergs.

“We had just sailed five days without seeing another boat and suddenly the RMS Queen Mary 2 comes within 250 yards,” Walker said.

“I spoke to the captain on the radio: he came in close and gave us three very loud blasts. All the guests were on deck waving and taking photos of us. Unbelievable moment.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica head to the UK. Newport, 10 July 2014. Photo copyright Sam Greenfield / Volvo Ocean Race

After arriving in England, Azzam will be prepared for the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week where it will take on its first competitive outings – the Artemis Challenge Race around the Isle of Wight on August 7 and the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race on August 10.

Team Alvimedica also set out from Narragansett Bay in Newport for Southampton and completed a short circuit before finally waving farewell to its American homeport. The next time it will be back will be when the Volvo Ocean Race visits Newport in May next year.

“It’s not easy to leave friends and family behind but it is time to get out and go sailing,” said skipper Charlie Enright. “While we have achieved a lot in our month here in Newport, we now need to maximise our time at sea together as a team.”

Like Azzam, Team Alvimedica will compete in the Round Britain & Ireland Race.

The campaign, sailing under the American and Turkish flags, this week confirmed five new sailors to join Enright and Mark Towill.

American Nick Dana, New Zealanders Ryan Houston and Dave Swete, Australian Will Oxley, and Italian Alberto Bolzan have all joined, and only the latter is a Volvo Ocean Race rookie plus the first from his country to join a crew in the 2014-15 edition. Amory Ross of Rhode Island has been named as the team’s Onboard Reporter.

The Spanish team, whose main sponsor is yet to be confirmed, also completed part of their recruitment drive this week with Frenchman Nico Lunven and Spaniards Rafa Trujillo and Antonio ‘Ñeti Cuervas-Mons joining the line-up led by Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández.

It will be the third Volvo Ocean Race for ‘Ñeti’ who will be taking charge of training the under 30s in the Spanish crew and also extra coaching responsibilities.

Team Brunel, meanwhile, completed their line-up with the confirmation of another Frenchman, Laurent Pagès, in their ranks.

Having helped Groupama to victory in the last race, the sailor from southwest France already has plenty of experience. He also knows his new skipper Bouwe Bekking well as they sailed together on third-placed Telefónica Blue back in 2008-09.

Dongfeng Race Team sailed to Spain for a 48-hour break from the rain in Lorient while Team SCA’s all-female crew both took time out from offshore training this week.

The women of Team SCA are focusing their sights firmly on their last big competitive test before the Race start on October 4. They will be joining several other boats from the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, including Azzam and Team Alvimedica, in the Round Britain & Ireland Race in August.

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French sailor Laurent Pagès joins Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

Posted on 08 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Team Brunel] With the arrival of Volvo Ocean Race veteran Laurent Pagès, Bouwe Bekking has completed his team. Previously, Pagès sailed along as a watch captain and trimmer aboard the Spanish team Telefonica Blue, and during the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, he was watch leader and tactician aboard the winning team Groupama.

Pagès and Bekking already joined forces with Telefonica Blue in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. Laurent Pages: ‘Sailing around the world again with such an experienced skipper is special to me, as my first Volvo experience was with Bouwe during the 2008-09 edition. This experience was really a great one. It is a great pleasure to join Team Brunel for the next Volvo Ocean Race. I appreciate the spirit of the team a lot. They are dedicated, friendly, and ambitious. On a personal side, this is a new challenge with a new Team, a new boat and with the ambition of winning the Volvo Ocean Race again.’

With the addition of Laurent Pagès, the Team Brunel crew is now complete. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race

Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking is delighted to welcome Laurent Pagès onboard. Bouwe Bekking: ‘Laurent is a superb sailor with whom I raced successfully for many years. His technical skills, eye for detail, a winner in several one design classes, and of course winning the last Volvo Ocean Race are a couple of ingredients as a skipper you only dream of. His character fits perfectly with the rest of the guys, so I am really happy he will join us.’

With the arrival of Laurent the team is complete. The other crew members are Bouwe Bekking (NLD), Gerd-Jan Poortman (NLD), Pablo Arrarte (ESP), Jens Dolmer (DNK), Andrew Cape (AUT), Rokas Milevicius (LTU) and Louis Balcaen (BEL).

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