Bermuda first met Mustafa Ingham as the young boxer turned sailing star with TeamBDA, thanks to Redbull Youth America’s Cup.
Five years on, Mustafa lives in Sydney, Australia, works as an account manager for a prestigious legal technology firm, and has been involved in every global sailing event on his bucket list, except for the America’s Cup itself – and that opportunity has sniffed at his door, having done trials with American Magic and Stars and Stripes. He loves playing rugby, surfs most weekends and speaks with a hint of an Australian accent.
RG Mags: What’s the secret of your success?
Mustafa Ingham: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. I learned that from Laura Cutler, TeamBDA manager, who mentored me. After Youth America’s Cup I was interested in the Volvo Ocean Race and Laura convinced me to just go for it. She told me to write to the race CEO, to find his email and tell him why I was keen to join, and I did it! It was long days and long nights of learning, putting boats together and meeting sailing legends; and it all played a part in my journey here. Most of my achievements, including working with SailGP Spain and crewing in the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, came about because I showed up and gave it my best shot.
RG Mags: Who else do you credit for your success?
MI: I grew up with my grandparents and my mom, she was a single mother, and they instilled in me the old school manners, to be kind, be respectful, be honest, be socially intelligent, and always present yourself well even when nobody’s looking. It takes you a long way. Here in Sydney, people love a ‘Good Morning!’. That’s the best part about being Bermudian, when you say good morning, you take people by surprise!
RG Mags: It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for you. How were you impacted by the pandemic?
MI: The shutdown made me rethink my sailing career. I was working with SailGP Spain, my passport and visa were all sorted, we were booking flights and next minute, it’s all over. I had no income, I had to move house because I had no job and couldn’t pay the rent; I didn’t know where to turn. It was a very tough spot to be in mentally, physically, and emotionally.
It was the moment in my life when I realised I was growing up. I was 23 and I wasn’t going to ask my mom to bail me out, I needed to figure it out on my own.
I’m usually a positive person but this put me in a very negative place, and I didn’t see any way out. I felt stuck, I couldn’t feed myself, I couldn’t pay rent, I couldn’t do nice things for my partner. I learned a lot and I came out of it a better person, 100%.
RG Mags: Any advice for other young Bermudians seeking opportunity?
MI: I worry about young black men, my peer group. There’s always a shooting, a robbery, a stabbing, I just wish they’d think before they act. These are people I went to school with, and it’s one of those things that hits you in the heart every time.
Life is so valuable. Honestly, if you take time to think about it, you can go wherever you want. It’s not worth all the violence. It just takes one second to make a different choice.
Opportunity only presents itself when you’re ready and if you want something that bad, you will make it happen. Anything’s possible, I didn’t think I’d be living in Australia at any point of my life, content and very thankful. I just wanted to do the Youth America’s Cup and that’s as far as I wanted to go but if you keep working towards it, things just keep presenting themselves and doors keep opening. n