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Displaying items by tag: Mikey Ferguson

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.

At lunchtime Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre starting horn was sounded and the 118 skippers in their 59 multi-coloured offshore boats weaved across the start line in front of Cape de la Hève, beating into 12-14 knots of north-easterly wind. Among them are two Irish skippers Joan Mulloy from County Mayo as Afloat reported here and Mikey Ferguson in County Down here. The Irish co-skippers are neck and neck in 26th and 27th place according to rankings here.

The biennial double-handed 4,350-mile race, the longest and toughest transat in the sailing calendar, will take them to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.

Already the race is dishing up a fair amount of drama with the news at 06:50 (UTC) this morning, while leading the Class40 fleet, British skipper, Luke Berry and his French co-skipper, Tanguy Le Turquais, informed the race management their Class40, Lamotte - Module Creation, had dismasted. The two skippers are doing well and are safe on board the boat.

At yesterday's start, Both IMOCA and Class40 fleets were tightly bunched, but line honours appeared to go to Bureau Vallée II (IMOCA) and Aïna Enfance and Avenir, the Class40 favourite.

The Route de Café is a marathon not a sprint, but the start along the coast is never simple, especially when the blood is up and adrenaline flowing in front the crowds lining the pontoons, channel, beaches and coast. Not to mention the live TV audience. And, of course, the choppy shallow sea with plenty of current against them as they race the 16 miles of coast to round the Region Normandie buoy off Étretat. The fastest among them should take a little under three hours before they turn to head west towards Cotentin under spinnaker.

There should be an intense downwind race in the Channel overnight when the wind will continue to strengthen. Through that time and the morning, as they all exit the Channel, it will be decision time as to whether to go east, west or further west. That could provide an early test of the different trajectories the latest generation foiling IMOCA may take, although Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss has said his priority is finishing not winning, especially after being helicoptered to safety when his boat capsized four years ago. Britain’s Samantha Davies, in an older boat but with hugely upgraded foils on Initiatives-Cœur, is keeping an open mind.

“Once we’re west of Ushant then we’ve got to make a decision,” she said. “I don’t want to make a decision yet because it’s not clear enough and sometimes if you decide in your head you influence yourself when you’re making further decisions.

“We’re pretty open at the moment, (laughs) we’re going to have all the sails out on the deck to work out which one we’re going to use. We are at one with Initiatives-Cœur and super happy to be finally at sea and heading for Brazil.”

The small Class40 have the same dilemma.

“Do we go west fully, for me there is still an option, but it’s a bit of a tricky one,” Luke Berry (Lamotte – Module Creation) said. “We’re still waiting for the info from our weather routers - you’re allowed a weather router before you start - so, we’ll make our decision sometime tonight. It’s not a (Class40) group decision, there are some that are going to go their own way and we’re not here to follow the others, but we’re not going to do lone cowboy either. It’s going to be more of downwind race out of the Channel, but it’s do we go up into the Celtic sea or not?

Britain’s Sam Goodchild, one of Berry’s main rivals, on Leyton, says that the risks and rewards are not clear.

“We don’t think we have to make our decision until tomorrow morning,” he said. “We’ve got all the ideas in our head, we don’t know what the risks and the gains are yet, it’s not as straightforward as if you go west, you break or you win, and if you go south you’re safe.”

There were emotional scenes on the pontoon before departure as the said goodbye to their friends, family and partners, except perhaps for Miranda Merron and Halvard Mabire, who are partners on both land and sea.

Top ten at midnight France time

Class 40

  1. Leyton, Sam Goodchild / Fabien Delahaye
    2. Lamotte - Module Creation, Luke Berry / Tanguy Le Turquais
    3. Aïna Enfance & Avenir, Aymeric Chappellier / Pierre Leboucher
    4. Credit Mutuel, Ian Lipinski / Adrien Hardy
    5. Crosscall Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Louis Duc / Aurelien Ducroz
    6. Beijaflore, William Mathelin-Moreaux / Marc Guillemot
    7. Entraide Marine-Adosm, Charles-Louis Mourruau / Estelle Greck
    8. Banque Du Leman, Simon Koster / Valentin Gautier
    9. Linkt, Jorg Riechers / Cedric Chateau
    10. Made In Midi, Kito De Pavant / Achille Nebout

Multi 50

  1. Solidaires En Peloton - Arsep, Thibaut Vauchel-Camus / Fred Duthil
    2. Primonial, Sebastien Rogues / Matthieu Souben
    3. Groupe Gca - Mille Et Un Sourires, Gilles Lamire / Antoine Carpentier

IMOCA 60

  1. Banque Populaire X, Clarisse Cremer / Armel Le Cleac'h
    2. Groupe Apicil, Damien Seguin / Yoann Richomme
    3. Arkea - Paprec, Sebastien Simon / Vincent Riou
    4. Corum L'epargne, Nicolas Troussel / Jean Le Cam
    5. PRB, Kevin Escoffier / Nicolas Lunven
    6. Malizia Ii - Yacht Club De Monaco, Boris Herrmann / Will Harris
    7. Initiatives-Cœur, Samantha Davies / Paul Meilhat
    8. Bureau Vallee 2, Louis Burton / Davy Beaudart
    9. Prysmian Group, Giancarlo Pedote / Anthony Marchand
    10. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson / Neal McDonald

Full rankings

Published in Offshore

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

Tagged under

Mikey Ferguson from the Royal Ulster YC on Belfast Lough and Andrew Baker from the Quoile YC on Strangford Lough have played a key role in establishing a new mono-hull record for the 620-mile course from Land’s End in southwest England to John O’Groat’s in northeast Scotland writes W M Nixon.

At first glance, the previous record - established by Phil Sharp with an Open 40 in 2015 - looked to be eminently beatable with a time of 3 days 11 hours and 52 minutes to provide an average speed of “only” 7.39. After all, the Artemis crew of Mikey Ferguson, Andrew Baker, Lizzy Foreman, and Jack Triggger (the latter recruited from the Team Concise), were racing their much larger IMOCA 60, which established a 5 day 14 hours record for the 2,000-mile Round Britain and Ireland circuit in 2014.

But the shortest course from Land’s End to John O’Groat’s takes you through all sorts of tide-riven channels – St George’s Channel and the North Channel to name only two – which can not only build up boat-breaking seas when strong winds are against the stream, but as the coast is sometimes close – sometimes very close - and frequently steep-to as well, it can play all sort of games with wind strength and direction.

Taking an Open 60 through it all at maximum speed is a bit like riding a tiger through a maze. Everything needs to be working properly, but after they’d starting zapping north from Land’s End at 1500hrs UTC last Friday (Sept. 22nd) with everything looking good for favourable and vigorous winds thanks to a deep low out beyond Ireland giving a strong southerly airstream, the wind instruments started to go on the blink.

mikey ferguson2“We had to throttle back at night after the wind instruments had failed, as a crash gybe in those conditions would have been disastrous”

When they failed completely, Mikey Ferguson made the decision to sail during the long hours of darkness at one notch below maximum power in order to cut a bit of slack for helmsmen having to steer by feel through the long Equinoctial night – “a crash gybe would have been total disaster”.

Thus although average speed was well above the required minimum, off Wicklow Head early on Saturday morning they were making a modest 14 knots, but within two or three hours were going better past Dundalk Bay at 16.8 knot. However, sail damage and problems with the mainsail carriage made a two hour stop in flat seas a dream solution, and Mikey’s home waters of Belfast Lough came up trumps. He even brought the boat into the lough through the narrow and rocky Donaghaee Sound inside Copeland Island to save time.

A couple of hours of hectic activity off Bangor put things right. They then exited the lough in the evening past Black head at 17.3 knots - probably the best through-the-water speed achieved, for although they were showing 18.8 knots approaching Fair head, there was tide involved. They went outside Rathlin and on into a miserable night - “lousy visibility and always that fear of gybing” – to make their way out past Islay and into the Sea of the Hebrides inside the Western Isles.

By this time the real power was going out of the wind, and on Sunday evening as night drew on and they sailed past Cape Wrath, the unthinksable happened. It became totally windless. Not calm by any means, but not a breath of a breeze. They struggled across Scotland’s north coast in any scraps of wind they could find, and slowly the Orkneys came up on the port hand this (Monday) morning, and the Scottish mainland crawled by to starboard.

artemis crew3Artemis crew of Lizzy Ferguson, Jack Trigger, Miker Foreman, and Andrew Baker

Ideally, to finish such a record passage with an appropriate flourish, you sweep through the Pentland Firth close past John O’Groat’s on the mainland side and Duncansby Head beyond it, with the Orkneys well away on the port hand. But in struggling to cross the virtual finish line running due north from John O’Groat’s, the Artemis crew actually found themselves well over on the Orkney side early this morning as they made it across to bring the record down to 2 days 14 hours 6 minutes and 44 seconds. They’ve taken a clean 21 hours and 44 minutes off the previous record. But as Robin Knox-Johnston said of his new Round Ireland Record in May 1986: “It’s still eminently beatable”.

Published in Offshore

Four young offshore sailors, including two from Northern Ireland, Mikey Ferguson and Andrew Baker, are on standby for an assault on the Length of Britain Challenge, from Land’s End to John O’Groats. The current record held by British sailor Phil Sharp stands at 3 days, 11 hours, 52 minutes, 15 seconds at an average speed of 7.39 knots.

The team who will be racing onboard the Open 60 Artemis Ocean Racing are currently waiting for an optimum weather window for this iconic 620 nm British course. The team sails along the English & Welsh coastline westabout up to Pentland Firth on the north coast of Scotland, the final marker before the finish line off John O’Groats.

Launched in 2016, Vendee2020Vision is an initiative to nurture Britain’s Offshore sailing talent along the path to success in yacht racing’s most challenging event - the Vendée Globe, the quadrennial singlehanded non-stop round the world race. This record attempt will see the current candidates test their skills in some of the coldest and most challenging conditions off Britain’s coastline.

No stranger to setting records, in 2014 Artemis Ocean Racing took the World Record for Monohulls 60 feet and less for Round Britain and Ireland in a time of 5 days, 14 hours, 00 minutes and 54 seconds.

The crew features two of the Vendee2020Vision’s current candidates, Lizzy Foreman and Andrew Baker. They will be joined by Artemis Skipper and Boat Captain Mikey Ferguson and a new addition to the team for this record sail is Jack Trigger. Jack is one of Britain’s up and coming offshore sailing talents, and also the youngest crew member onboard. He has sailed across a variety of classes most notably he has been part of the record-breaking crew onboard the MOD70 Concise.

Alongside the assault on this British record, the team will also use this opportunity to test several pieces of wearable technology to provide vital data to assist the team in improving overall performance and health at sea. From monitoring sleep cycles and baseline vitals during an offshore race, the team will also work with Jack Trigger, a Type 1 diabetic, to see how wearable tech can assist in the management of his condition offshore.

Published in Vendee Globe

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