Jack Bouttell victorious in first competitive outing as the new skipper of Racing for the Planet.
The Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team this weekend claimed their first victory with new skipper Jack Bouttell at the helm, when they took part in the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy 2022.
The two-day event, created by the Mirpuri Foundation to raise awareness for the plight of ocean health, took place in picture conditions in Cascais, Portugal.
Eighty-five boats, including supermaxis and high-end VO65 and VO70 ocean racing craft, competed across five classes in the two-day event. Since their victory in The Ocean Race Europe 2021, this was the first time the Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team had returned to racing, and at the helm was a new face.
Jack Bouttell, a Volvo Ocean Race winner and watch captain for the Mirpuri team since day one, was approached to replace former skipper Yoann Richomme, who is now involved in his own Vendee Globe, solo round the world campaign.
Jack Bouttell said when stepping into the role: “Being the skipper of a big boat campaign has been my childhood dream, but to achieve it with a team that has been such a big part of my career so far feels even better. It comes with a lot of responsibility and I’m excited to see if I’m up to the challenge.”
Joining Jack for the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy 2022 were five of the sailors from the victorious Ocean Race Europe campaign, as well as five new faces who were brought in to replace the team members who were unavailable for this short campaign.
The final crew selection included experience in Olympics, SailGP, America’s Cup as well as several laps of the planet in the Volvo Ocean Race.
After a week of intense training in Cascais that focused on fine-tuning maneuvers and ironing out the details, the team took to the water on Saturday with expectations high.
After a 3-hour delay to the start due to an unseasonal lack of wind, racing finally got underway in the late afternoon to the ceremonial firing of the start cannon from the NPO Sinas of the Portuguese Navy.
With a large fleet of boats jockeying for the start confusion abounded, but the professional outfit showed their experience exercising patience and giving themselves enough room that by the time the fleet had all cleared the start line, the huge black sails of Racing for Planet were at the front.
Their closest Rival, the VO65 of the Austrian Ocean Race Project, had also cleared the melee and the two behemoths began breaking away out to sea on starboard tack, as most of the fleet tacked over onto port and sailed towards the coastline.
By the first mark half an hour into the race, the Mirpuri Foundation Racing had built an impressive lead and headed downwind round the top mark a massive eight minutes ahead of the Austrians. Being the fastest boats in the fleet, the VO65 class sailed a longer course, yet despite this Jack Bouttell and the crew on Racing for the Planet crossed the finish line fifty-two minutes ahead of the Austrian Ocean Race Project to take the class line honors lead overnight.
Sunday, day two of the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy, saw the polar opposite in terms of weather, with the prevailing north wester pumping across the bay of Cascais in excess of 20 knots.
The Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team took a commanding lead from the start and was soon the leading boat again. The experience and training showed and the team reveled in the tough conditions. In a dominant performance, the team took the day’s race by thirty-four minutes, resulting in an eighty-six-minute cumulative class victory.
The performance handed Jack Bouttell and the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Team the class line honors and saw their names etched into the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy for the second time in three years.
Jack Bouttel said after the prize-giving: “I’m super happy with our performance, the team executed our game plan perfectly and never missed a beat. The reaching leg today in strong wind was like an offshore leg of The Ocean Race, it was great fun flying along at such high speed. This is an important event for the team, with the title sponsor of the event also being our team owner, so there was a lot of pressure. I’m just pleased we could do our owner proud. It was a great event as always, and we can’t wait to be back next year to defend our title.”
Paulo Mirpuri, President of the Mirpuri Foundation said: “It was a privilege to watch them racing out there and I am extremely proud of the team and how they sailed today. They have also kept their one hundred percent winning record, which is something our new skipper Jack can be very proud of.”
MF Racing Team — 25 January 2023
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