History & Mission

History & Mission 2017-05-19T18:23:32+00:00

In 1956, Lisbon welcomed the first edition of The Tall Ships Races, hosted by Aporvela´s founder, Eng. Luís Guimarães Lobato. With the rise of industrial revolution, Tall Ships were replaced by steam engines. The First and Second World War conflicts caused Tall Ships several damages, as they remained docked or were used as war prizes. The first editions of the Tall Ships Races had the main purpose of maintaining the Tall Ships sailing traditions and give future generations the opportunity of developing sail skills. 1954, the Portuguese Ambassador in London – Dr. Pedro Theotónio Pereira – and an English Lawyer – Bernard Morgan – encouraged a race in order to reunite the tall ships that still exist. The first committee was founded with the support of several prestigious sailing entities.

In 1956, the first race took place from Torbay – south of England – to Lisbon, with the participation of 12 Tall Ships – Moyana (UK), Christian Radich (Norway), Ruyam (Turkey), Falken (Sweden), Maybe (Netherlands), Gladan (Sweden), Flying Clipper (Sweden), Creole (UK), Sørlandet (Norway), Georg Stage (Denmark), Sagres (Portugal), Mercator (Belgium) – and 8 other small sized ships – Artica II (Italy), Juana (Argentina), Sereine (France), Marabu (UK), Bellatrix (Portugal), Theodora (UK), Provident (UK) and Berenice (UK).

Due to the race achievement, The Tall Ships Races followed several annual editions up to today, maintaining the same purpose: Promote sail training for youngsters around the world!


A APORVELA – Associação Portuguesa de Treino de Vela (Portuguese Association for Sail Training) was founded in 1980, with the mission of promoting sail training and the preservation of the National Nautical Patrimony. With the cooperation of ISTA and other entities, Aporvela organized important Tall Ships Races in: 1982, Cutty Sark Tall Ships Races; Lisbon Sail 1992, Cutty Sark Tall Ships Races; Colombo 1994, Cutty Sark Tall Ships Races; Prince Henry Memorial 1998, Cutty Sark Tall Ships Races; Vasco da Gama Memorial 2006, 50th Anniversary The Tall Ships Races; The Tall Ships Races Lisboa 2012; and, The Tall Ship Races Lisboa 2016, 60th Anniversary of the Tall Ship Races.


These races gather about 100 Tall Ships and a crew of over 3.000 youngsters from all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of people visited Lisbon and Oporto during the races, and were delighted with the exquisite fleet of Tall Ships. In 2002, a new committee was founded: Sail Training International – STI (formerly known as ISTA). Aporvela is a founding member.

Sail Training International became a world wide organization. India, South Africa and Turkey were the last countries that become members. It is the main organizer of “Tall Ships Races” every year, providing a challenging adventure which promotes team spirit, self knowledge and cultural exchanges.

If you want to be part of this adventure, please Join Us!