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Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team returns for The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup

by The Ocean Race 16 Dec 2022 01:19 PST
Start of the Third Leg of The Ocean Race Europe, from Alicante, Spain, to Genoa, Italy © Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race

The Mirpuri Foundation will play a part in The Ocean Race for the third consecutive time, as its Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team competes for The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup.

Following the foundation's support of Turn the Tide on Plastic in the 2017-18 edition of the Race and its winning campaign in The Ocean Race Europe last year, the Mirpuri Foundation will now enter a fully Portuguese team who race for the first time in the opening stage from Alicante, Spain to Cabo Verde starting on 15 January, 2023. The team will also participate in the Alicante In-Port race on 8 January.

The VO65 boat the team will use in the race has a winning pedigree as the ex- Dongfeng Race Team boat, winner of the 2017-18 edition of the around the world race and, as Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team, the winner of The Ocean Race Europe.

"We are thrilled to enter our VO65 'Racing for the Planet' into The Ocean Race for this new challenge," said Paulo Mirpuri, the founder of the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team. "After our victory in The Ocean Race Europe, it's exciting to know the team will again be lining up to race with other VO65s. We are expecting a strong challenge from some very experienced teams and look forward to some exciting racing in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint."

The team will be led by António Fontes who competed as a sailor in the 2017-18 edition of the Race and now graduates from boat captain to skipper for the three stages of The Ocean Race VO 65 Sprint.

He will be supported by an all Portuguese crew with 7 Olympic sailing campaigns between them. Olympians Bernardo Freitas, Frederico Melo and Mariana Lobato were all part of the team that won The Ocean Race Europe and they will be joined by Olympic bronze medalist Hugo Rocha, three time Olympian Diogo Cayolla, as well as Matilde Pinheiro de Melo, Francisco Cai-Água and Francisco Maia.

António Fontes, skipper: 'It's a great honour to lead the first all-Portuguese team participating in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint. This is a dream come true for me after so many years of hard work. The Mirpuri Foundation has done a lot for Portuguese sailing and this is another great opportunity for Portuguese sailors to prove themselves against the world's best."

"António has been with our team since the very beginning and knows our boat inside out," said Paulo Mirpuri. "I know António well and it gives me great pride to see a home grown talent as the skipper of our team."

"This is a strong team racing a boat with a proven track record of success" said Richard Brisius, Race Chairman of The Ocean Race. "We look forward to having them line up alongside the VO65 fleet in Alicante next month with an impressive Portuguese team."

According to Paulo Mirpuri, the promotion of marine conservation is one of the founding principles of the Mirpuri Foundation, and the creation of a high-profile ocean racing team is seen as an imaginative and effective means of assisting the Foundation to carry its central message on the real perils currently facing our oceans and sea life to the four corners of the earth.

"For the Foundation, The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint is another excellent opportunity to continue spreading our campaign message #stopclimatechange and we look forward to maximising this opportunity as the world's sporting media's attention turns once again to this world class event," he concluded.

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