José Muñoz, a natural pioneer
José Muñoz is on board Neutrogena preparing for his second double-handed circumnavigation of the globe. This will be his first non-stop and on an IMOCA. This accomplished Chilean yachtsman is joining Guillermo Altadill for the challenge, having being chosen by the Spaniard to form a crew that is more than just well-matched. The legendary Cape Horn unites this coupling, where both sailors have carved a unique and extraordinary profile for themselves in their respective countries.
José Muñoz already knows what it feels like to be a pioneer. In 2009 he and the late Felipe Cubillos were the first ever Chileans to complete a round the world regatta. Now the sailor is preparing to become the first person in his country to complete the challenge non-stop. In sailing the Barcelona World Race he will also become the first South American person to take on an IMOCA 60 regatta. His serene gaze proves that these milestones don't weigh heavily on this sailor who is teaming up with Guillermo Altadill on Neutrogena. Guillermo is also a pioneer in his home country of Spain; he leads in miles sailed, circumnavigations of the globe and oceanic records, and boasts a track record that José has been following closely with admiration: “I followed Guillermo's career on the internet and I knew of his achievements and his extraordinary experience in ocean sailing... There's no doubt that he's one of the best, so when I found out that he was interested in meeting me to possibly set up a Spanish-Chilean crew for a project such as the Barcelona World Race, I jumped at the chance”.
This all happened last year when Guillermo was giving a conference in Chile and met his current team-mate in person. José had made the leap into the ocean racing arena following a fantastic performance in the Portimão Global Ocean Race, a round the world regatta over five legs for the Class 40s. Sailing on Desafío Cabo de Hornos José Muñoz and Felipe Cubillos took second place overall and two leg victories. A particularly special leg win was the one between New Zealand and Brazil, which thrilled the nation that boasts one of sailing's most important landmarks within its territory: Cape Horn. José recalls that emotional moment: “Cape Horn is mystical and as a sailor and a Chilean, getting there is something very profound. When I rounded the Cape in 2009 in first place and could see my family, it was very moving. Now in the Barcelona World Race it will be twice as moving as I'll be doing it to pay homage to my colleague Felipe Cubillos”.
José and the worlds of sailing and Chilean solidarity lost Felipe Cubillos when he died in an aeroplane accident near the archipelago of Juan Fernández in 2010. The sailor worked with the Desafío Levantemos Chile (Rebuild Chile Challenge) which he founded to promote the rebuilding of the areas affected by the tsunami which hit the country on February 27th 2010. “It was a huge loss. We started off together in Algarrobo and I'd been sailing with Felipe for 11 years before teaming up with him for the Portimão,” explains José, as he recalls his former team-mate and friend.
José was born in Algarrobo, Chile in April of 1972. Something of a Chilean nautical paradise, it was in his hometown that he came of age as a sailor and that's where he continues to live with his wife and two daughters. He started off in a rather unconventional fashion, taking to the oceans at a very young age: “I started off in the Algarrobo Yacht Club and at ten years old I was already offshore sailing with my father. At 18 I got into professional sailing and the J-24s and shortly after I took on a few crossings of the Pacific Ocean”.
The Chilean sailor learned to master all of the many technical disciplines in sailing, whilst at the same time carving out a reputation as an expert in both offshore and inshore racing. The IOR, IMS, Mumm 36, J/24 and J/105 classes, where he notched up some important victories, were crucial in preparing the terrain for his brilliant début in the Class 40s.
Alongside Guillermo, he is now fully committed to this new challenge, supported by a sponsor that understands and shares the values which are so important in the great human endeavour that is a double-handed circumnavigation of the globe. “Guillermo and I are very well-matched and with Neutrogena we make a really great team. I think that I bring a lot of technical support to the project and Guillermo brings his extraordinary breadth of experience. The IMOCA 60s are very demanding boats and they are very different to the boats I have sailed up until now. They are incredible yachts and I'm learning more and more each day. The Barcelona World Race is also an incredibly demanding regatta where we'll be exposed to extreme conditions and the training schedule Guillermo and I have set up will be the toughest I've ever done”.
José hopes to see ocean sailing grow in Chile, a country with the longest stretch of Pacific Ocean coastline and he is certain that the double-handed, round the world challenge will represent a big step forward in that sense: “As a Chilean I am incredibly proud to be representing my country in the Barcelona World Race and it's an honour for me. I really believe that the impact of the regatta in Chile will be huge, as many people there would love to take part”.