After over a year of planning and preparation, the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team is finnaly about to cross the start line of The Ocean Race Europe.

The new three-stage offshore sailing event featuring seven VO65s and five IMOCA 60s commences at 1345 local time tomorrow in Lorient, France, with stops in Cascais, Portugal and Alicante, Spain before finishing in Genova, Italy, in three weeks’ time.

Led by Lorient-based Yoann Richomme and featuring a ten-strong crew, the Portuguese team was the first team to commit to The Ocean Race Europe on board their Racing For The Planet VO65 at the beginning of this year, following the delay of the round -the-world race due to the global pandemic.

Among many accolades, Richomme’s selected sailors have amassed three Olympic campaigns, four Solitaire du Figaro wins and 11 Volvo Ocean Race campaigns including one victory in Australian / British sailor Jack Bouttell.

Despite the fragmented year for the sailing community and ever-changing travel restrictions, the team arrived in Lorient confident in their preparation, having completed a final month of offshore training at the team’s base in Cascais, Portugal before the delivery to Lorient.

The first stopover of the race will take place in Cascais, where all teams will take part in a points-scoring coastal race as part of the annual Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy, a prestigious annual regatta created to support ocean conservation projects.

Leg One from Lorient, France to Cascais, Portugal, includes a virtual waypoint in the Atlantic Ocean close to the Azores, extending the leg duration. The forecasted light winds will make for a tricky start in Lorient before the fleet will head across the Bay of Biscay and out into the Atlantic. After rounding the virtual waypoint to port the fleet will head east and make for Cascais, hoping to arrive sometime during daylight hours on Wednesday.

Building on the legacy of the Mirpuri Foundation’s ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ campaign in the 2017-18 edition of The Volvo Ocean Race, the team has partnered with air quality experts EarthSense on a pioneering science program to measure air pollution levels both on land and at sea. One monitor is affixed on the deck of the team boat, while a second mobile unit has been deployed on the team’s support vehicle and will follow the boat around Europe throughout the course of the race, collecting valuable data.

Yoann Richomme, Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team skipper said: “I am really looking forward to the start of the race. We have all been missing sailing over the last year and this format of racing in a class of seven VO65s, a level playing field where the team makes the difference, is very exciting, and to be starting in my home town and racing to our team base in Cascais will give us an extra boost I hope.

“We have been clear since the beginning that our intention is to win. That comes with its own pressure, but I’m confident in this young team, and the preparation that we have done to put ourselves in a position where we can win races. I have personally had a lot to learn about this boat and about building such a big crew, so the time has been well spent getting ready. The boat is immaculate and I feel confident with our crew work and organization ahead of tomorrow. The first leg will involve a lot of downwind sailing and a lot of miles. It will be pretty intense and will give us a good impression of our performance relative to the other boats. ”

Paulo Mirpuri, Founder of the Mirpuri Foundation said: “I am very proud of the effort of everyone involved in the team to prepare for The Ocean Race Europe. The enthusiasm and energy of every member of the team is clear, and we are ready to line up among the fleet tomorrow knowing that we have done all we can to prepare to race hard. Yoann and his crew have been superb throughout this campaign, despite facing so many challenges and disruption throughout the last year. This first leg is special for us as we are racing first to our home port in Cascais, where we will welcome the whole fleet who will join us in the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy. ”