Belfast Lough sailor Mikey Ferguson from Bangor in County Down and his Finnish co-skipper Ari Huusela will this Sunday (27th) start the Transat Jacques Vabre, one of the most spectacular of the world’s ocean races writes Betty Armstrong.
The route follows the historic coffee trading route between France and Brazil and tracks 4350 miles across the Atlantic. The race starts in Le Havre and finishes in Salvador da Bahia.
They will compete in the 30 strong IMOCA class.
The race is a first for the Ferguson and Huusela partnership. And the Finnish airline Captain is the first ever Scandinavian skipper in the Transat Jaques Vabre. Ariel2, formerly known as Dee Caffari’s AVIVA, is now owned by Huusela who started sailing at age 24. “This race is part of my 20-year dream of participating the legendary Vendée Globe. All Imoca Globe Series races are big spectacles but still I’m amazed each time. This sport is growing so fast. Large audiences follow no matter if they sail themselves or not. It must be because it is so easy and tempting to follow these true adventures digitally. No matter where you are and when you want to check the updates”, says Huusela. He adds “Mikey is a natural choice to co-skipper Ariel2 and I am delighted to race with him. We make a good combination in many ways”.
” Having sailed over 3000 miles in total with Ari we now know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We both hope for a nice exit of the English Channel and Biscay crossing but are fully prepared for some serious weather being thrown our way. We have tweaked the boat and have had safety checks and briefings throughout the week. It still feels weird that this time I’m actually racing and not just prepping the boat, but it’s starting to feel pretty real now”, Mikey tells.
Michael Ferguson (36) has been involved in this project for a year and a half. He has been a competitive dinghy and keelboat sailor from a young age and has worked in the sailing industry for nearly 20 years. 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.
The whole fleet, which also includes the Multi50 and Class40 classes, represents 12 different nationalities and it is expected there will be over half a million visitors at the event