Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Northern Ireland Sailor Mikey Ferguson Completes Incident Filled Transat Jacques Vabre Race

24th November 2019
Mikey Ferguson (left) and Ari Hussela with the wrecked mainsail Mikey Ferguson (left) and Ari Hussela with the wrecked mainsail

Bangor, Northern Ireland sailor Mikey Ferguson and Finnish airline pilot Ari Hussela finished the famous 4350-mile coffee route ocean race, the Transat Jacques Vabre offshore race, from Le Havre to Salvador da Bahia in Brazil, on 15th November. But not without incident writes Betty Armstrong.

As Afloat reported previously, the race was a first for the Ferguson and Hussela partnership and as reported in Afloat previously, the airline Captain is the first-ever Scandinavian skipper in the Transat Jaques Vabre. They were competing in the IMOCA class in Ariel 2, formerly known as Dee Caffari’s AVIVA, owned by Hussela.

After a good start on 27th October, and not far into the race when they were off Guernsey, a small hole appeared in the mainsail when they were taking in a reef. Under canvassed they got out of the channel safely and entered the Bay of Biscay. With the wind going forward they sail delaminated and fell to pieces and they had no means of fixing it.

”To think that after 48 hours into the race one half of my head was thinking which Port has the closest airport or should we just retire and sail under jib back to France. The other half was thinking let’s see where this journey could take us, Cascais? Madeira? Or the Canary Islands?”, says Mikey Ferguson.

They chose to keep going and Mikey felt that it would be good to get Ari out of his comfort zone and push the boat harder. They had to start with the spare main and knew there was a risk but the priority for Ari was to secure a position in the Vendee Globe ranking by stacking up the miles. “I could not be happier that we did the impossible”, says Huusela.

They finished on 15th November and it felt like a win to Hussela. Their time was 18 days 23 hours 7 mins 14 seconds, coming in at 26th in the IMOCA class.

Airbus A350 Captain Ari became the first Finnish and first Scandinavian ever to complete this legendary race. He started sailing when he was 24 and has a dream of taking part in the Vendee Globe. 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.

And Royal Ulster members can look forward to hearing of Mikey’s adventures at the Club night on 5th February next year.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

Email The Author

Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven't put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full-time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button