Laura Cutler, programme director for Bermuda’s Red Bull Youth America’s Cup sailing team, has been jumping with joy since receiving the news that Mustafa Ingham will make his offshore racing debut competing in one of the world’s most iconic ocean races over the festive period.
Ingham is set to compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, starting on Boxing Day, among the crew of 2016 race winner and former course record holder InfoTrack, owned by Australian entrepreneur Christian Beck.
“To be on that crew list is a very big deal,” Cutler said. “I am so proud of Mustafa.”
The 21-year old certified yachtmaster and Bermuda Tourism Authority sports ambassador successfully made the cut on Team BDA’s roster after being given a nudge by his grandmother to try out for the team.
“He didn’t even think of himself as a sailor,” Cutler recalled. “He wasn’t trying out as a sailor. We invited any athlete in Bermuda who thought they had what it took to commit to such an enormous project to come and try out.
“What I think is amazing is here’s someone who the first boat he learnt to sail was a GC32, a very high-performance foiling catamaran, and the second boat he learnt to sail was an AC45.
“Next, he’s on the shore crew for a Volvo Ocean Race and now his very first ocean race, is probably one of the most iconic of them all, the Sydney Hobart Race. “He is a very fast learner.”
Beck’s 100-foot Maxi won the 630 nautical-mile race from Sydney, New South Wales, to Hobart, Tasmania, under its former name Perpetual Loyal in what was then a record time of 1 day, 13hr 31min 20sec, as well as the 2008 and 2010 Newport Bermuda Races under its original name, Speedboat.
Ingham obtained offshore yachtmaster status after completing an apprenticeship at the Volvo Ocean Race Academy last summer during which he met one of his mentors who was influential in getting him involved in the Sydney Hobart Race.
“Last year I helped set up with a team called Wizard which was a Volvo 70 and had won the previous year,” Ingham said.
“I met one of my mentors, named Mitch White, and he kept me busy throughout the time I was in Australia. Every time I returned I could go sailing and learn more thanks to him.
“With the continued support of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and XL Bermuda I was able to return in October and Mitch got me into the InfoTrack team.”
The Sydney Hobart Race is regarded as one of the toughest yacht races in the world.