Route du Rhum: Ari Huusela 11th in the IMOCA class

Finnish sailor Ari Huusela crossed the finish line of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo transatlantic race this morning to take 11th place in the IMOCA division.

Huusela, who is a career airline pilot with Finnair, completed the 3,542-nautical mile transatlantic race from Saint Malo to Pointe-à-Pitre in a time of 19 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes.

This is the second time Huusela, 56, from Helsinki has completed the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe after finishing ninth in the Rhum Mono class in 2014 when he became the first sailor from the Nordic countries to finish the race.

Competing in the 20-strong IMOCA fleet on his Ariel 2, Huusela sailed a steady race taking into account his main objectives, to complete the course and to learn the boat which he only took delivery of in April. His aim now is to go forward to compete in the Vendée Globe solo non-stop race around the world which starts in November 2020.

A latecomer to sailing who only started when he was 24-years-old, Huusela has also completed two transatlantic in the tiny 6.5m Mini class. The Finn looked more relieved than happy when he drew Ariel 2 alongside the dock in Pointe-à-Pitre tonight.

A collision with another competitor in another class (Sébastien Destremeau in Rhum Monos), in the early hours of his ninth day of racing, caused some minor damage but he admitted that the shock had influenced the rest of his race.

“After that it took me a long time to settle back into it,” he said. “I sailed only with two reefs in the main and I was only really looking to make sure I finished safely rather than racing.
“I can still see the image of the other boat coming at me at 17 knots. It could have been so much worse if I had not managed to turn my boat at the last minute.”

Destremeau, who was asleep when his 60-footer, Alcatraz IT FaceOcean, glanced off the stern of Huusela’s boat, was on the dock to meet the Finnish sailor. “We were lucky, very lucky,” he said.

“But I am lucky, very lucky to have now started four transatlantic races and finished all four,” added Huusela. “Three of them, including this one, have been very hard. These boats are monsters.

“They are good in the very bad weather but such hard work in 35-40 knots of wind, tacking and gybing. It was hard. I lost my wind instruments on the fourth day. That meant for example I had to hand steer through tacks and that is hard work. But it is good experience.”

Of the 20 IMOCA skippers who started in Saint Malo on November 4th four are still on the course and five have had to abandon the race.

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