TOGETHER WITH SPONSORS AND PARTNERS
Vendée Globe is a journey. It’s an ultra marathon of which maybe only half is sailing. The rest is preparing, co-operation and constant learning.
First of all you need a boat. That’s when it get’s serious. If you do not have the boat at least three years before the Vendée Globe, you may not have enough time to race enough miles nor practice, prepare or even get a boat anymore.
For me it was Alex Thomson who mentored and encouraged at the beginning. That plus promising sponsorship discussions made me determined enough to truly start searching for the boat. It was six months from the first arrivals from the Vendée Globe 2016/17 and the boats were more or less sold already. I was late.
When the news that ex Aviva would be available reached me via a friend, I was on a plane to France within two days of it. And there she was. Lying on the factory backyard on dry land.
She had the reputation being a liable, strong boat that had always finished her races. Taken care by Dee Caffari and Joff Brown, I knew she had been in good hands. But the work load what was waiting…. it seemed huge.
It was either I am going to go for it right now or forget about the long time dream. It was a now or never thing do to when I the following day of visiting the boat made an offer and took a big loan.
It was Ukkoverkot CEO Mikko Uusitalo and a sports influencer Martti Uusitalo who believed in my project in the first place. Boosted it up and running in the beginning. Right after HPP Attorneys joined the road to VG as well as Helly Hansen and Containerships which had been my partner in all my projects since 1998. The first big refit was possible thanks to these brave partnerships.
”A company does not necessarily need to be big in order to be able to boost growth with partnerships. If you want to grow, are investments in marketing a must. One should always put the opportunities into perspective”, told Mikko Uusitalo in February 2018 as a CEO of Ukkoverkot that later became Edzcom – a company that specializes in connecting equipment and people in the field by enabling digitalization and industry 4.0 with private 4G and 5G network solutions.
”Motivating the personnel and ability to succeed starts from valuing our personnel. The thing that a company is capable of offering perspective and inspiration to every day work makes challenges more human and strengthen the team spirit. That is where Ari’s story links to ours” Pekka Raatikainen, partner of HPP Attorneys told in April 2018
Ex. Aviva became Ariel II in the experienced hands of Lighthouse Yacht Services’ Joff Brown and his team. In April 2018 she was launched in Gosport and was back in the water, her true element, again.
At that time my sailing experience with IMOCAs was limited to a month’s training with Superbigou (Medallia) and two times onboard HUGO BOSS. The learning was that these boats are a) not toys b) nothing like you’ve sailed before. So, it was better to take a coach with us for delivery sailing to Baltic Sea and my to-become Transat Jacques Vabre co-skipper Mikey Ferguson was the right man for that job.
Vendée Globe is actually two races. The first one is to compete yourself to the starting line. The second one is where you sail around the world. For me, the first one was no doubt the toughest.
It was clear from the start that there’ll be more skippers chasing the place to start in the Vendée Globe than there would be places. The same will apply in VG2024 because the interest is growing race by race. That meant I had to aim for all Imoca Globe Series races in order to secure my place in the game. Just before Route du Rhum I was happy to welcome Climecon to join the core partners of the journey.
“While Climecon is growing more international, it is proud of it’s Finnish roots. We value the possibility to create new jobs in Finland and therefore supporting a Finnish IMOCA skipper and his extremely challenging journey to Vendée Globe is an honor for us”, Tommi Uksila, CEO of Climecon told in April 2019 and continued: ”At Climecon we also have this thing called pirun hyvä meininki. ”
2019 was the year of two ocean races. After Bermudes 1000 Race it was time to renew all the electricity and navigation systems on board with B&G, Roba Nyberg (Voltak Ltd) and Timo Hakakoski (Meriel Ltd). For the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre I had Mikey as my co-skipper and coach.
In the beginning of 2020 I still had no main sponsor but good new discussions were on their way before the Covid-19 hit the world. Suddenly I was in a serious trouble. How could I ever get the new keel done in these radically changed circumstances? The issues to cover were plenty; design, materials, production and money of course. I had no time to loose.
When Stark signed the main sponsorship I had already learned and planned how and where to make the keel which was mandatory safety thing according to new Imoca class rules. The design was done by Merf Owen and Aker Arctik. The first thing was to order the steel and when that was done, the Vendée Globe was a critical step closer. And everybody started to wait it happening.
“We’ve typically chosen team sports to support but Huusela’s project was simply so interesting that we absolutely wanted to join it. The first impression of Ari showed us already how target oriented he works to achieve his dream. Huusela literally builds himself stronger”, Jarmo Salmi, Commercial Director of Stark said in May 2020.
Summer 2020 brought Seapoint and Targa on board and in August 20th I could not believe my eyes when couple of hundred boats were escorting me and Stark leaving Helsinki, Finland to France.
”Our mission is to make boating more responsible. We develop our business in line with our client needs but we also want to influence them so that we can enjoy a sustainable and safe boating in the future as well. These elements meet in our partnership with Huusela”, said the CEO of Juva Shipping (Seapoint) Fredrik Ekroos in June 2020.
”Made in Finland has always been in the core of Targa brand. We want to support Finnish sisu. Targa boats are found in all oceans of the world and our French dealer SNIP Yachting has been actively involved in many big ocean races such as Route du Rhum and Transat Jacques Vabre”, Sales Director Robert Carpelan from Botnia Marin told in June 2020.
The new keel was finalized in V1D2, Caen by Marco Lefebvre and his team. It turned out to be awesome. The boat became more competitive also. Our rigging guru during the years has been Blew-Stoub’s Vincent Le Roux and new sails were designed and manufactured by OneSails.
It was a deeply touching moment and an amazing achievement made possible by my sponsors, tech partners and the team when Stark entered the famous channel in Les Sables d’Olonne on October 15th and docked the Vendée Globe pontoon.
The rest is history.
Key sponsors: Stark, Edzcom (Ukkoverkot), HPP Attorneys, Containerships, Helly Hansen, Climecon, Seapoint, Targa, Mailroom Solutions, B&G and Duell Marine
Tech partners: Mercedes Benz / Sixt, Toughbook, Solbian, Balmar, Ambronite, Puhdistamo, Blå Band, Aker Arctic, Brändäämö, Mastervolt and Karver
Main photo: Jari Salo, Sailingimages