Message in a bottle.jpg

Message in a bottle


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PROFESSIONAL SAILOR Ricardo Diniz is to undertake a remarkable trip from Portimão into the heart of London, to hand Her Majesty the Queen a bottle of Port to help celebrate the 250th anniversary of the demarcated Douro region and the Queen’s 80th birthday, which was in April this year.

Ricardo is retracing the old Port route from Portugal to England on his yacht, alongside English sailor Josh Hall, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Demarcated Douro Region and the Queen’s 80th birthday, which was in April this year.

Portimão is the official base of Diniz’s Made in Portugal project. Launched in 2003, this promotes Portugal and its finest products.

Ricardo spoke exclusively to The Resident about the project and his upcoming trip.

The bottle of Port making the trip to the English capital is from 1926, the year of the Queen’s birth and was extremely difficult for Ricardo to obtain. He is choosing not to reveal the brand as he does not want to commercialise what he considers a serious undertaking for himself and his country.

Joining Ricardo on the trip is Englishman Josh Hall, an established name in English sailing, who has sailed the world three times, a feat which Ricardo hopes to achieve once by the end of the decade.

As the venture will promote Portugal in England and vice versa it was very important to Ricardo that an Englishman and Portuguese man take on the challenge together. They are planning to wear a uniform that is a colourful mix of the Portuguese and English flags.

Ricardo’s strong bond with England started when he moved to the UK at the age of five before returning to Portugal six years later. He then studied Marine Environmental Science at the University of Southampton and was captaining ships in the Caribbean by the age of 21.

It was there and on further travels when he began to realise how little people overseas knew about his home country. “I began to get very fed up and annoyed that no one knew about where I came from and the great history of Portugal,” says Diniz.

As a result, Ricardo set up the Made in Portugal project in Lisbon. In order to keep to their mission, Ricardo and his colleagues travel to schools around the country, teaching children about Portugal and its assets.

“I focus on making students more positive,” says Diniz. “Often their parents are very negative as they had a bad generation, it’s important to teach them that this is not the case anymore.”

There is plenty of symbolism within the trip, especially considering the unique and historic relationship between England and Portugal. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance between England and Portugal is the oldest alliance in the world which is still in force today.

Britain has been the traditional trading partner and ally of Portugal since this alliance in 1373 when the agreement pledged “perpetual friendship” and, as a result, the British oversaw Port production in Portugal’s Douro region to increase its quality.

Diniz hopes that his voyage will boost the fragile Port industry and make others aware of the vitally important role Port wine has played in the Portuguese economy. It is currently under threat due to other countries faking its production. He hopes to once again invoke the “magic, romance and history of the tradition”, which stretches back over 500 years when it became Portugal’s very first export product.

He has been planning the trip for some time with Buckingham Palace officials, who are very enthusiastic about the event but asked that he keep details of the trip quiet until now.

Diniz is still unsure whether the Queen will be present at the ceremony, but he is certain that he will have a royal welcome nonetheless and attract significant media attention.

The 1,300-mile trip should take seven to 10 days, arriving in the centre of London in late November. The departure date is not fixed as it depends on weather conditions, although the boat will not be leaving the Algarve before November 10.

The fact that Ricardo has chosen to depart from the Algarve in favour of Porto or Lisbon should raise a few eyebrows and give the trip even more media attention.

Apart from the danger of the high seas what will be a major worry for Diniz is keeping the valuable bottle of Port safe and protected. The trip is by no means easy as it has to cross the dreaded Bay of Biscay, the unfriendly stretch of sea that is particularly ferocious at this time of year.

Ricardo is fully prepared for “hideous conditions” however, as he has sailed the route numerous times he is fully confident that it will go without any major hitches.

The boat making the journey is a historic vessel, one of the first ever built in the Open 50 class. Even more poignant is that it was built on the east coast of America by a Portuguese community.

The 50-foot vessel is described by many as a floating museum that will help project Portugal as a place of quality and prestige abroad. 

Speaking about the voyage, Diniz says he is “honoured to celebrate the seats of our ancestors and mark 500 years of heritage”. He feels very lucky to be participating in this enriching experience saying, “it is my modest contribution to help make people aware about our great country and promote this prestigious, important industry.”

Consequently, Diniz is still looking for more sponsors for his trip, the initial costs of which mount up to 37,700 euros.

In January, Ricardo undertook another remarkable trip, travelling solo from Lisbon to Dakar at the same time as the famous car rally. The trip caused a big stir in the media even though he tried to keep it low key. He will be announcing more trips in December following his safe arrival back to Portugal.

For more information and to follow Ricardo and Josh’s progress visit