The waters off the coast of Chile are a good proving ground for an around-the-world race and now one of Chile’s favorite sons, Felipe Cubillos, is getting ready to put the experience gained along that rugged shoreline to good use.
Portimao Global Ocean Race
Cubillos is the most recent entry in the Portimão Global Ocean Race and along with co-skipper Jose Munoz will be proudly flying the Chilean flag from the stern of his about-to-be launched Class 40, Desafio Cabo de Hornos. His participation in this global race is the culmination of years of work and the triumphant achievement of a lifelong dream.
'I was inspired by my father,' Cubillos stated simply when asked what led him to enter this grueling event. 'Many years ago he entered a Swan in the 1978 Whitbread Round The World Race but was unable to actually make the start line. Now I am taking his dream to the start of an around the world race and I am sure that he would have been proud of me.' Cubillos’s father died 8 years ago and it’s to honor his memory and to inspire his own children that Felipe takes part in the race. 'I want to show my children that it’s important to have dreams in life,' he said. 'I have always told them this and now I can show them by my example that with focus, dedication and hard work you can make your dreams come true.
The coming Sunday, July 19, his brand new Class 40 will kiss the water for the first time in a launching ceremony in France. The boat, designed by noted naval architect Guillaume Verdier is receiving the final touches at the builder FR Nautisme in Lorient, France, and will be launched and readied for a tough qualifying passage. Cubillos and co-skipper Munoz will sail the boat to Iceland and back in an effort to give the boat a quick and thorough shakedown.
'We are looking for and expecting some tough weather on the trip,' Cubillos said. 'There is no point trying to avoid it. We know that the Portimão Global Ocean Race will dish up some very rough conditions and we need to know that the boat is up to the task and ready for a long voyage around the world that includes rounding Cape Horn.'
Cubillos is the father of four children and an accomplished sailor and businessman. A lawyer by training but with a businessman’s heart, he currently owns a marina in Puerto Montt, a thriving town that stands at the gateway to Chile’s stunning southern archipelago. The town has thrived due in part to a booming salmon aquaculture industry and Cubillos himself played a part in this boom as the owner of his own salmon farm.
He started sailing at an early age in a Sabot called Chichester, named in honour of Sir Francis Chichester who famously circumnavigated the world single-handed in 1967. He has sailed Lightnings, lasers, J-24’s and larger offshore racing yachts and was a member of the Chilean Olympic and Pan-American sailing teams. The Portimão Global Ocean Race will be his first attempt at an around-the-world race and along the way Cubillos hopes to become the first Chilean sailor to successfully solo circumnavigate the world.
The Class 40 that Cubillos and Munoz will be sailing around the world comes from good pedigree. A sistership, Telecom Italia, sailed by legendary solo sailor Giovanni Soldini, recently won the Artemis Transat as well as last years Transat Jacques Vabre. 'We looked at a number of boats before settling on this Verdier design,' Cubillos said. 'I know Giovanni is a superb sailor but it was clear to me during the Transat Jacques Vabre that his boat had a lot of speed and I called my project manager Alejandro Raab and told him to place an order for the exact same boat.' Felipe was racing in the same Transat Jacques Vabre finishing a credible 13th out of 31 starters. 'The good thing about buying a sistership to Telecom Italia is that Giovanni has been very helpful in our project. He is so respected and knows so much about this kind of boat and about racing around the world, we feel that we have a bit of a secret weapon.' Whether Soldini’s advice and influence play a part in Cubillos’s future success remains to be seen. One thing is for sure though; this is a determined and thoroughly professional team representing Chile and they will be bringing the hopes of a nation to the start line in Portimão later this year.