Being and staying in good shape is crucial in a very demanding race. Nothing should be left to chance. Good physical condition requires well-planned meals, so nutrition is in the core of keeping fit onboard. The food consumed is simple and easy to prepare but loaded with energy, as well as carbohydrates and protein. “I usually eat pasta bolognaise or some other pasta”, Ari says. The meals are mainly freeze-dried meals in which one only adds hot water. Lunch and dinner must be warm meals. Breakfast and snacks are important, too.
“I usually prepare “day bags” containing all the meals per day and pack the day bags in a “week box”, so I can keep track of my meals”, skipper Huusela explains.
Being alert 24/7 requires a lot of energy and the calorie intake can be up to 8000 kcal a day, especially in colder conditions. Once the boat reaches warmer latitudes, one might not feel hungry at all, but energy is still required in order to maintain a good performance throughout the race.
This time Huusela estimates that it will take him two weeks to reach Guadeloupe from St. Malo as he is now competing in the IMOCA60 class. The boat is bigger and more demanding than back in 2014 when he was sailing a POGO 40. Route du Rhum is one of the main races before attempting to compete in Vendée Globe 2020. It is like getting ready to climb Mount Everest. In fact, Huusela has consulted a very experienced mountain climber in nutritional issues. The best tip he has received was to eat muesli with some “mehukeitto”, a treat popular in Finland. It’s basically a sweet soup made of berries or fruit and berry juice. It comes in small cartons, does not require a fridge and is tasty. “Eating this combo is both nutritious and tastes good”, Ari says. He says that adding any kind of variety to his daily meals is a plus as eating the same stuff day in and day out can get challenging.
“Then I have a 200g bar of my favourite chocolate for each day and also some candy in case I am having a hard time”, Huusela explains.
When it comes to hydration, he drinks only water. Some skippers drink energy drinks or sodas but Ari Huusela wants to keep it simple. Naturally he also drinks coffee in the morning, as a part of the daily routine. Having a routine helps, and meals are an important part of the routine. “My main job is to navigate and keep the boat going, and a well-planned meal plan helps tremendously”, Ari says.
Ari Huusela is getting ready for the legendary Route du Rhum which starts from St.Malo in France in early November. This is his second Route du Rhum and it is a part of his journey to his first attempt of Vendée Globe, the most challenging non-stop solo round the world race without assistance. Ari is the first Nordic skipper ever finishing the Route du Rhum. With more than 20 years of experience in single handed sailing, the preparations are key to a successful race.
text: Annina Laaksonen
main photo: ©SailingImages, Jari Salo