When the start gun of The Ocean Race 2023 fires, the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team crew will be the first all Portuguese crew to participate in the famous yacht race.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, The Ocean Race is considered the toughest test of a team in sport and the pinnacle of professional offshore sailing. Eleven boats will compete in this edition, five foiling IMOCAs and six VO65, all state-of-the-art racing yachts. The boats are some of the fastest monohull yachts in existence and are capable of sailing over 600 miles in twenty-four hours.

The crews onboard race 24/7 for weeks at a time, foregoing life’s luxuries in exchange for weight and speed. They will wear the same clothes for days, eat freeze-dried food, never sleep for more than a few hours at a time, and the only chance to take a shower will be when it rains. Simply put, it’s brutal.

Taking up the challenge on board the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team’s VO65 “Racing for the Planet” are some of Portugal’s most illustrious professional sailors. Three women and seven men make up the crew that will challenge for the VO65 Sprint Cup, a trophy on offer for the VO65 class boats that will compete in Leg 1, 6 and 7 of the race.

Skipper of the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team António Fontes said “It’s a big moment in Portuguese sailing. Portugal has a long and historic legacy as a maritime nation, and we all feel privileged to continue that legacy as the first all-Portuguese team to race in The Ocean Race.”

Leading the crew as skipper for the first time, António Fontes will bring to the team his experience sailing around the world in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. Portuguese Olympians Mariana Lobato, Bernardo Freitas and Frederico Melo are all veterans of the team’s winning campaign in The Ocean Race Europe 2021, and they will be joined by fellow Olympians Diogo Cayolla and Hugo Rocha. In line with The Ocean Race’s rules for diversity and youth, the team is completed by Francisco Maia, Francisca Pinho, Franscisco Cai-Água and Matilde Pinheiro de Melo.

The Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team competes with the support of the Mirpuri Foundation and is raising awareness of climate issues through its “Racing for the Planet” campaign. The Foundation conducts and supports several initiatives with a focus on climate action, and the team proudly carry the foundation’s name to draw attention to these vital initiatives.

President of the Mirpuri Foundation and owner of the team Paulo Mirpuri commented “This is a huge moment for the foundation and one we have been working a long time towards achieving. To see our foundation’s message on the start line of this famous race will make us all extremely proud and we are looking forward to watching our team compete at the highest level in professional sailing.”

Leg 1 from Alicante, Spain to Cabo Verde off the coast of West Africa is 1900 mile and is expected to take just under a week to complete. Racing starts Sunday, January 15 at 14:00 CET.

  • António Fontes

  • Frederico Melo

  • Bernardo Freitas

  • Diogo Cayolla

  • Hugo Rocha

  • Mariana Lobato

  • Matilde Pinheiro de Melo

  • Francisco Maia

  • Francisco Cai-Água

  • Francisca Pinho