Ari Huusela brings Vendee Globe to a close

Ari HHusela arrives in Les Sables d'Olonne to a hero's welcome
Ari HHusela arrives in Les Sables d'Olonne to a hero's welcome

Ari Huusela, the last skipper to cross the finish line of the ninth Vendee Globe, was given a huge warm welcome as he sailed into Les Sables d’Olonne to complete the dream he has held for 22 years since he first sailed a 6.5m Class Mini across the Atlantic.

Here are the words of an emotional Finnish skipper who completed an exemplary race as an amateur skipper who races across oceans solo as a hobby.

At the pontoon, Huusela’s first words were:
I was crying most of the last night, I have been thinking about this for so long. I am so thankful to my team. Without them I would not be here. And to Alex Thomson, who was the first one who pushed me and helped me a lot to start the project. That was at the 2016 Helsinki boat show.

Since then, we have been well-connected, and the next summer I got the chance to sail on his boat from Poland to Finland. He and his team of professional guys got me into this. Alex helped a lot.

Tough moments?
The hardest was when the boat was slamming when the sea state was so terrible and confused. I though the boat would break into pieces. And it was so uncomfortable to be in the boat at that time, as it lasted two or three days. I called Niina and I said I had reached a point where I hoped the boat would break in two pieces and I could be rescued by a cargo ship to save me from it.

Cape Horn was big?
Since I started to dream about this race, Cape Horn has been such a big thing. You start to think about what your chances will be to see it when you are rounding it. The chances are not so big; you might have to round a long way off or in the night time. But in the end, I had perfect evening sun, nice conditions and I was able to go close and to talk by VHF to the lighthouse keeper. I was able to see the lighthouse blinking and that was amazing.

Emotion got the better of Ari Huusela on the final night

Climbing the Atlantic was quite tough, but the conditions these last days have been what I was hoping for. I was so happy and the last two days have been champagne sailing.

In the media mixed zone
To have done Mini Transats, Route du Rhums, Transat Jacques Vabre and finally now the Vendée Globe, is just amazing.

To have been to all the starts of this race since 1996 and to finally have finished today seeing all these people on the sea, in the Channel and now on land, is just amazing – to be able to enjoy it myself. I am so happy Les Sables d’Olonne and the Vendée region arranges this race – and so to see these nice people from Les Sables d’Olonne taking care of us is just lovely.

A victory for the support of his friends and family
This is a big victory for me. It was already a victory to be able to start. Now I am the biggest winner. It is very emotional now; it goes so deep into your emotions.

Every evening, every night for the last four years, I have gone to sleep thinking ‘am I able to finish this race, am I able to start the race’? And then once I had started the race, every day I was wondering when it would stop, what might be the major catastrophe that stopped me, a whale of whatever, but I had some good luck.

I had a well prepared boat with some good people; Joff Brown and Mikey Ferguson with whom I did the Transat Jacques Vabre with, who taught me to sail IMOCA 60s. And my amateur team around me who are my friends, my colleagues and my family, who are all amateurs. They have done such good work for the last four years, working so hard all the time to make me able to start and to make me able to finish.

And of course I feel the pressure of sailing, that I can’t be the weakest link in the chain, I have to finish, also to be able to do it for them.

I am proud of my friends and the team and all the people who have followed me with encouraging messages, that have powered me up when I have had low days or low moods. These people have kept me going.

Airline pilot and safety
As an airline pilot, there are a lot of comparisons to sailing, but the main thing for me is the way of thinking about safety. I was an aircraft mechanic, a maintenance engineer for many years, and there you start with safety as the first priority.

It is my way of thinking about the things you are doing. It doesn’t matter if I am going flying or if I am going sailing. I try to avoid all the risks in both. That is the reason I am here with a boat that is in good condition and safely back here. It maybe took a bit longer…

More from Ari Huusela’s press conference at: www.vendeeglobe.org/en

Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Stronger breeze blows results wide open at Sail Port Stephens

“Sunny with winds 15 to 25 km/h becoming light in the late afternoon” was how the official forecasters optimistically described today’s weather for Sail Port Stephens. At least they were right about the sunshine … The breeze built to a...

Don't pee over the railing! Image courtesy of Pantaenius Insurance.

The deadly hazard of urination – don't pee off the rail

Have you ever heard of “Micturition syncope”? This is a fainting spell that can occur during or, more commonly, immediately after urination due to a severe drop in blood pressure. On board, such a collapse is not only particularly dangerous,...

Jake Lilley selected to second Olympic team

Queenslander Jake Lilley has been announced as Australia’s representative in the Finn class for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, rounding out the sailing selection for the Games. Lilley completes a team blessed with a mix of youth, experience, and a history...

Japan SailGP Team announces new signings for Season 2

The Japan SailGP Team has supercharged its team for SailGP Season 2, announcing the headline signings of Italian sailor and eight-time world champion Francesco Bruni and Great Britain’s Chris Draper, who take on the roles of flight controller and wing...

Tom Slingsby's Australian team powers past GBR on Day One of SailGP on Sydney Harbour. Photo Photo: Chris Cameron for SailGP.

Fox Sports and Kayo app in Australia to broadcast SailGP season 2

With the SailGP Season opener less than a week away, the global championship has announced comprehensive broadcast coverage, with viewers in 175 territories globally able to watch the events, which promise high-speeds, high-tech and high-drama in the second season. Broadcasting...

Sinking yacht threatened Cook Strait power cables

New Zealand website stuff.co.nz reports that “a shipwreck drifting at the edge of the Marlborough Sounds has damaged a fishing boat and threatened cables vital to New Zealand’s electricity.” Emergency services responded to a mayday call from an 11-metre yacht...

Great Britain SailGP Team confirms Season 2 squad

With less than one week to go until the start of SailGP Season 2, which commences with the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess April 24-25, the Great Britain SailGP Team has unveiled its squad that will race...

Rolex Fastnet Race – more than an ocean race

While this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race will be highly competitive at the front of the fleet, for many among the record-sized entry of 453 yachts (at present), the objective of tackling the 695 mile course from Cowes to Cherbourg via...

2023 Ocean Globe Race set to be the World’s biggest ever

In 1981, 29 entrants set out on the third edition of the Whitbread Around the World Race, creating the current record as the biggest ever, fully crewed challenge. As the race evolved every four years, it became ever more professional...

Solo sailor rescued in “perfect” conditions

The calm, windless sea was ideal for towing, but no good for sailing, so a solo sailor off Holyhead in the UK did the right thing and called the RNLI when his motor broke down. Pagers sounded just before 5pm...

Latest Posts

Latest

Read all of the latest Sailing News

Racing Posts

Racing

Dinghy and Yacht Racing News

Offshore Posts

Offshore

News from the Offshore World

Cruising & Destinations Posts

Cruising & Destinations

Cruising Stories from around the World

Boat & Gear Posts

Boats & Gear

The Latest Boats and Yachting Gear

Video Posts

Video

Watch everything Sailing and Boating

Processing...
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Join Our Newsletter
Latest Sailing News, Racing, Cruising, Boats, Gear and more
ErrorHere