On September 16, 2009 the Portugal Ocean Race was announced. The venue was a replica of one of sailing’s most famous landmarks, Peter’s Cafe Sport.
On Wednesday, September 16, 2009, in Lisbon, the Portugal Ocean Race was announced. The venue was a replica of one of sailing’s most famous landmarks, Peter’s Cafe Sport. Surrounded by iconic images of legendary sailors like Eric Tabarly and Sir Francis Chichester, race co-founder Brian Hancock articulated his vision for the event.
“The world of offshore ocean racing is exploding,” he said. “I am sure the sailors of old would be delighted to see how many people are interested is racing around the world in this modern age. The Portugal Ocean Race is an affordable way for those sailors to realize their dream.”
For Hancock, a highly experienced offshore ocean racer, the announcement of the Portugal Ocean Race is the culmination of 30 years of professional sailing and event management. With more than a quarter million offshore miles to his credit he has seen ocean racing develop from humble beginnings to become a mainstream sporting event with a global audience. The Portugal Ocean Race fills the gap on the racing calendar between the top professional events like the Vendee Globe and Volvo Ocean Race, and the shorter races like the mini-Transat and Figaro circuit.
“We are limiting our entries to Class 40s only, to take advantage of the exponential growth of this dynamic new sailing phenomenon. This class is all about keeping things affordable, and safe, and we invite all existing Class 40 owners and those interested in buying new boats to look at the Portugal Ocean Race and come and join us on this global adventure. Among the three divisions we can surely find a home for you. In addition to the solo and double-handed divisions we are introducing a new fully-crewed division. Teams of up to six people will be able to take part with four on board and the possibility of rotating crew out at each stopover. Suddenly the idea of a campaign, spread six ways, is a budget many sailors from around the globe can afford.”
The Portugal Ocean Race will be a true reflection of Portugal and will capture the history and culture of this seafaring nation. Few people represent the spirit of Portugal more than Fado singer Mafalda Arnauth, who will serve as the Godmother of the event. Race co-founder Ricardo Diniz explained.
“Mafalda is pure Portugal,” he said. “Her beauty and grace reflect the Portuguese people. She will be the link between the sailing community and the rest of the country. Mafalda will join the Navy as well as Portugal Tourism to form a solid foundation for the race that is firmly rooted in Portugal yet with a reach that will take it around the globe.” Ricardo Diniz was recently nominated one of Portugal’s most motivating people and it’s clear that his passion for sailing and all things Portugal know no limits. He is one of Portugal’s best known short-handed sailor and speakers. “I have known for years that Portugal is ready to host an international sailing event,” he said. “The Portugal Ocean Race embodies the spirit and energy of earlier offshore events and will include and embrace the host country in a way that captures the essence of Portugal and transports it around the world in a global sailing event.”
This strong foundation set by co-founders Hancock and Diniz is enhanced by the skill and expertise of Race Director and event CEO Larry Rosenfeld, a highly experienced offshore sailor and businessman. “We are building this event with the vision of it becoming the preeminent global around-the-world race,” Rosenfeld said. “Because of Class 40 and the exceptional growth of the class, and because it’s affordable and practical and offers sponsors a global platform to showcase their products at a time when budgets are tight, we feel that this race is the right race at the right time.”
Rosenfeld is an accomplished sailor with a number of offshore sailing records to his credit. He is the co-owner of the maxi-catamaran Team Adventure and navigated the boat around the world in 2001 in The Race. More importantly, for his role as CEO and Race Director, Rosenfeld has vast business experience. In 1982 he founded a small software development company taking it public in 1998 before selling it to ORACLE in 2000. The skills learned in the rough and tumble world of business will be hugely important as the Portugal Ocean Race grows over the next decade.
The Portugal Ocean Race enjoys the support of numerous top-name Portuguese companies such as the industrial giant Martifer and a more recognisable international brand, Nissan. Speaking at the press conference was Francisco Ramos from Nissan who articulated the similarities between Nissan and their move toward environmentally friendly electrical cars and the Portugal Ocean Race.
“We have long held the belief that as a responsible company, Nissan needs to lead the way in creating a greener earth,” he said. “Sailing surely has to be the greenest sport and the Portugal Ocean Race has a mandate to be a zero-carbon event. We respect this bold step and are thrilled to be a Founding Partner of the Portugal Ocean Race. We will work with the Event Organisers to see where there are some mutual engineering similarities between electrical cars and sailing, and we hope that we can bring some of our advanced technologies to offshore ocean racing.”
The same sentiment was held by Martifer who are industry leaders in wind and solar technology. Nissan and Martifer join 19 other Founding Partners of the Portugal Ocean Race to launch this event whose success was toasted with aged Taylors port, Taylors too being a Founding Partner of the Portugal Ocean Race.