GSC – Ari Känsäkoski in Durban after 1200 miles Odyssey

By Marco Nannini  / Global Solo Challenge

Ari Känsäkoski’s ordeal started with his dismasting 25 days ago in the Roaring Forties. Patience, seamanship and determination made it possible for Ari to reach Durban in a voyage from a remote area of the Indian Ocean back to safety, through many difficulties as well as the selfless help of those who offered Ari crucial help during this time.


Finnish sailor Ari Känsäkoski, participating in the Global Solo Challenge, faced a critical situation when his Class40 sailing yacht was dismasted during the night between 21st and 22nd December. The incident occurred in a remote area of the Indian Ocean at a latitude of over 41 degrees south in the infamous Roaring Forties constantly swept by the strong winds of rolling low pressure systems. The lower diagonal shroud of his mast, the D1, failed, and despite Ari taking down all sail hoping to secure the mast at dusk, the violent rolling of the boat under bare poles caused the mast to snap in half and collapse on deck and overboard.


Ari was approximately 1000 Nautical Miles South of Madagascar, 1200 miles from continental Africa and 1400 miles from Cape Town. South West Australia was more than 3000 Nautical Miles away. Despite being just 300 Nautical Miles from the Iles Crozet, these remote Islands offer no facilities and just a bay to drop anchor, which would have not made the trip to the African continent any easier.

Immediate action

Ari secured the fallen mast, waiting for an opportune weather window to retrieve the top section onto the deck using his winches and an outrigger to create a crane to lift the mast aboard. He then went on to build a jury rig to hoist storm sails, marking the start of a challenging journey towards safety. With limited fuel on board, difficult weather and in the full flow of an easterly flowing eddie of the Agulhas current the finnish skipper charted a northerly course in consultation with his routing team to get out of the Roaring Forties. This essential move was, however, quickly depriving the skipper of his limited fuel resources. On Christmas day MRCC Reunion in coordination  with Ari Känsäkoski broadcast a message on targeting any vessel that may be navigating in nearby waters.

Tomi Maru 58’s delicate refuelling operation

The following day, the Japanese fishing vessel Tomi Maru No.58, captained by Sachio Hagiya, responded. Despite challenging sea conditions, they successfully transferred 300 liters of fuel and other essential supplies to Ari. This fuel proved crucial in covering many miles to the north towards easier conditions and favourable winds. However, the fuel transferred was not enough for the whole journey to safety. 

Operation Pancake

With more than a third of his 1200 Nautical Miles journey to safety still to be covered, a lucky coincidence led to the  encounter between the  brand new Finnish RO-PAX vessel Finncanopus and Ari Känsäkoski’s yacht. Finncanopus, en route to Durban, was on its maiden voyage from China to the Baltic Sea and had diverted from the traditional Red Sea route, due to the current situation. Ari, who was making painstakingly slow progress with very little fuel left, saw an opportunity with Finncanopus’ route and contacted Finnlines for assistance. Captain Jyrki Repo of Finncanopus expertly navigated the challenging sea conditions, positioning the ship to mitigate the waves and enable Ari to approach safely. The operation involved the transfer of essential supplies, including clean diesel and additional provisions (freshly baked bread and pancakes!), using a throwing line and floating cans. The operation was a resounding success, allowing Ari  to continue his journey towards Durban with clean diesel.

Arrival in Durban

The arrival in Durban was timed to be at first light on January 15th but reserved some last minute drama. After such precious service, the engine V-belt broke when Ari was just 10 miles from port. Thankfully rescue boat R5A assisted in the final 10nM to tow Ari into port of Durban, and to the Durban Marina.

Special thanks

The Global Solo Challenge organizers, Ari Känsäkoski and his shore team extend their deepest gratitude to MRCC Reunion, Captain Hagiya, the crew of Tomi Maru No. 58, Captain Jyrki Repo, the crew of Finncanopus, Finnlines, NSRI Durban, Durban Marina, Vince Nel – Point Yacht Club Rear-Commodore and all those who were involved in any other aspect of the operation and all those who have contributed to Ari’s fundraiser.

As organisers of the Global Solo Challenge we are always humbled by the many people  in the maritime community that offered selfless help throughout. Their timely assistance has renewed Ari Känsäkoski’s hope of reaching a safe port and salvaging his vessel, continuing his arduous journey in challenging circumstances.


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