Ingham’s success a result of hard work and determination’
The sponsorship deal the Bermuda Tourism Authority announced with sailor Mustafa Ingham yesterday is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
The 21-year-old got to travel around the world over the past year, gaining invaluable sailing experience, and Bermuda gets promoted in the process by Ingham, who is now a sports tourism ambassador for the BTA.
“There are few things more rewarding than watching a young man life out his dream,” said Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experience development officer for the BTA presented Ingham with an award at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club yesterday that read: “Congratulations on your success in the Volvo Ocean Race Academy.”
“In the case of Mustafa Ingham, his dream-come-true is not a result of luck or happenstance, it’s a result of hard work and determination,” Phillip-Fairn added. “In September of last year, along with XL Catlin, the Bermuda Tourism Authority agreed to sponsor Mustafa’s enrolment in the Volvo Ocean Race Academy.
“At that time Mustafa had just wrapped up with Team BDA for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. Those races took place right here in Bermuda.
“The whole country was cheering for those young men and women as they carried the pride of their country. Certainly Mustafa did not want the end of the 35th America’s Cup to be the end of the sailing career. Neither did we.”
Last year Ingham was successful in finding himself a place in the Volvo Ocean Race, becoming the first enrollee at the Volvo Ocean Race Academy.
“Over the past nine months Mustafa has literally crossed the globe — Asia and Australia, Brazil and Europe,” Phillip-Fairn said. “He has learnt the technical aspects of the business on the shore team and talked sailing with some of the best sailors on the planet. He has represented Bermuda well.”
Despite the odds, Ingham passed all his exams and is now a qualified Volvo Ocean Race sailor.
“Before Mustafa could even be considered to sail in the elite Volvo Ocean Race, he had a long list of qualifications to acquire,” Phillip-Fairn said. “In fact there were so many exams to pass, the organisers told us we should not expect Mustafa to gain all the qualifications he needs by the end of the year-long Volvo campaign. And because of that, his odds of sailing in the current Volvo Ocean Race was basically zero.
“Well, someone needs to check those odds again because we learnt earlier this month that Mustafa Ingham passed all the qualifications. He is fully qualified to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.
“It’s an enormous accomplishment when you consider Mustafa had to study for and pass all those tests while working long hours for the shore team of Turn the Tide on Plastic; cross-crossing the globe with the Volvo Ocean Race and maintaining the fitness regime of an elite athlete to ensure he’s ready to compete.
“And he did all of it in lightning speed nine months. Remember just three years ago Mustafa was an 18-year-old young man brimming with potential, but uncertain how to harness that potential into a career.”
Ingham thanked the Bermuda Tourism Authority and XL Catlin for their support over the last year.
“It’s an honour to wake up and represent your country on a daily basis. It’s a huge responsibility,” Ingham said. “There is more to come, I promise.
“I was pretty much thrown into the deep end, got to meet the race crew, see the boats but didn’t know much about ocean sailing. It was totally different to what I was used to.
“I worked long hours and they sat me down and told me what I had to achieve. I failed one exam and didn’t like how it felt so got more serious after that. Halfway through I realised it was achievable and put my head down and get more serious.
“The difference between balancing work and study was pretty difficult but you make time for something that is enjoyable and get it done.
“At the beginning of this month, passing that final exam meant a lot and lifted a weight off my shoulders.
“It’s a good feeling to know that whatever you put your mind to you can get it done. Definitely going forward I would like to do more sailing. I know this is just the beginning and more opportunities will come my way if I keep working hard.
“It was nine exams I had to take, starting off with how to tie a certain knot and slowly getting boat-handling skills and learning about navigation, read charts, tides and courses, weather systems, safety equipment. All those things you have to know.
“Work was seven days a week, usually 14-hour days and some days were harder than others. Also sailing while doing that and after that sitting an exam while everyone goes on vacation!
“There is heaps of pressure but the sailors hold themselves to a very high standard. They love what they do.”
The experience started in Lisbon for a month before moving on to Alicante, Spain, then back to Lisbon for the start of the second leg.
“Then it was to Cape Town, South Africa and before that doing an exam in Southampton, England,” Ingham said. “After Cape Town it was to Australia where I had another exam. Then from Australia to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to China and then back to Hong Kong before going to Auckland and then to Brazil. Between that I took vacation time just to study.
“From Brazil to Newport I sat my last exam. Now I’m off to Cardiff, leaving on Friday, for more shore work, making sure everything is working fine. From there we go to Gothenburg, Sweden for the finale. There were ten people on the boat, five girls and five guys.”
The experience, he said, has been life-changing.
“It has definitely opened my eyes, showed me what it is all about,” Ingham said.
“It is like one big family. You just have to be humble and work hard.”
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