Bangor sailor Michael Ferguson (36), whose CV includes both dinghy and major offshore racing success, has been signed on to co-skipper the IMOCA 60 Ariel2 (formerly Dee Caffari’s Aviva) in the record 67-boat Transat Jacques Vabre fleet from Le Havre in France along the 4350 nm race route to Bahia in Brazil, starting October 27th writes W M Nixon
Ariel2 is owned by Finnish airline A350 captain Ari Huusela (56), who is the first Scandinavian skipper racing in the IMOCA class, and has Vendée Globe 2020 as his ultimate goal.
Mikey Ferguson has been involved in this project for one and a half years now. A competitive dinghy and keelboat sailor from a young age, he lists Ballyholme YC and Royal Ulster YC as his home clubs. When in Bangor, he continues to race his RS 400 to competition level, but meanwhile, he has worked in the international sailing industry for nearly 20 years now. He has been in various British IMOCA campaigns including Mike Golding’s Ecover and Gamesa projects and he has also skippered the IMOCA Artemis 2 for the last five years.
“I have been involved in the class for over 15 years” says Ferguson. “It’s the best ocean racing class in the world. The boats are at the cutting edge of innovation, and push the skippers to the physical maximum 24/7. In 2018, I did coaching with Ari in Finland before the Route du Rhum last year. I also skippered Ariel 2 back from Guadeloupe, so I know it very well”, says Ferguson.
“Mikey is a natural choice to co-skipper Ariel 2” comments Ari Huusela, “and I am delighted to race with him. We make a good combination in many ways. Racing IMOCAs require dedication, time, experience, skills, mutual trust and discipline. One cannot just jump in”.
The Race Village of the 14th Transat Jacques Vabre in Le Havre opens in Le Havre on October 18th. All 134 skippers, representing 12 different nationalities, will be there and over half a million visitors are expected to visit the event, which finishes in the city of Salvador da Bahia.
“It’s one of the best-known races in ocean racing terms. This year will be huge, with so many rop teams entering and on the pathway to the next Vendée Globe. We aren’t the newest boat, and don’t have the fancy foil setup of the current generation of boats. But there will be a lot of boats from Ariel 2’s era, and it will be a real challenge to try and be one of the top boats from the older generation. Finishing is a must, but we also want to be competitive”, Ferguson says.
Transat Jacques Vabre is also a very committed race. It has signed up to the WWF’s 15 eco-friendly commitments, and will undertake more than 40 CSR actions in the event. It partnerships with Ocean as Common, and dedicates space for sustainable development in the race village. Ariel2 is also looking for partnership suggestions that can drive climate and eco-issues to the right direction.
• Mini Transat 1999 on Classe Mini
• Transat 6,50 2007 on Classe Mini
• Route du Rhum 2014 on Pogo40, Classe Rhum
• Route du Rhum 2018 on IMOCA
• Bermudes 1000 Race 2019 on IMOCA
• 4 Fastnet races on IMOCA
• 2 Round Britain and Ireland races (2010, 2014): holder of IMOCA record crewed 2014
• 2 delivery transatlantics: on Artemis and Ariel2.
• Over 30,000 miles on IMOCA