Sailing Solo with Class40 Fuji: Ari Känsäkoski’s boat for the GSC

©Ari Känsäkoski

Finnish Skipper Ari Känsäkoski, has a distinct advantage over many sailors who have entered the Global Solo Challenge (GSC), in that he knows his yacht inside out. He has a detailed knowledge of his boat, systems, and equipment which is essential for a successful long distance solo navigation.

Ari is a Skipper for the Finnish Ocean Racing Association. An organisation that provides offshore sail training and the opportunity for its members to sail and race a competitive Class 40 yacht.

The training and racing are invariably under the experienced eye of Ari, and although the participants have access to another yacht, Ari normally skippers his yacht ‘Fuji’.

He has owned this Owen Clarke-designed boat since 2014 and she has been sailing regularly under the auspices of this Association ever since.

Apart from the extensive time spent training crews, Ari has considerable experience sailing ‘Fuji’ competitively. Her racing credentials are quite impressive. Since 2015, under Ari’s Captaincy, she has competed in three editions of the Rolex Fastnet race, two SORC Round the Rock solo races (original Fastnet course), two editions of the Malouine Lamotte race, The Armen Race, two CIC Normandy Races, the Seventar Round Britain and Ireland Race, three Volvo Round Ireland Races, the Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables race and several others.  

2022 Solo Malouine Lamotte race – ©Emmi Hakala


‘Fuji’ was built for English sailor Alex Bennett by Composite Creations, with an eye on his intention to compete in a round-the-world race, and was therefore built to meet Category Zero Ocean racing regulations published by World Sailing. Category Zero is the strictest set of regulations aimed at sailors who can expect to spend extended periods of time in remote areas without expectation of a fast rescue, in cold air and sea conditions. The extensive World Sailing Rules, which have been adapted for the GSC, ensure that the yachts that will be sailing in these hostile environments meet a minimum of safety standards.

Whilst Ari admits that ‘Fuji’ is not one of the fastest first generation Class40, as she is built stronger and heavier than the other boats, she is regarded as an extremely structurally strong boat.

Indeed Ari believes that ‘Fuji’ will be well over a tonne heavier than other Class40s such as, for example, David Linger’s yacht, which is a similar Owen Clarke-designed Class40. Even though David’s boat equally adheres to the Category Zero Rules.

Ari, therefore, knows the sailing capability of ‘Fuji’, but during her refit, last winter, in the Cherbourg yard of Port Chantereyne, he worked with the yard on things like servicing the inboard engine, so that he was fully conversant with further aspects of this yacht, well beyond what a regular skipper would be expected to know.

Ari has also recently been appointed as an Ambassador for Raymarine, the marine electronics company, who have provided him with an integrated and comprehensive navigation system, with internal and cockpit-based information screens.

The final configuration will include two Axiom+ monitors, an RMK-10 keyboard, Quantum Doppler radar, Evolution EV-400 autopilot with work units, ST2000+ surface pilot, Wireless wind system with remote control and Micro-Talk router, AIS700, iTC-5 converter, more i70s displays and YachtSense Link router. 

They also have provided him with a GSM amplifier system to increase his access to online information whilst relatively close to shore. This GSM system will complement his Iridium-based computer access.

Ambassador for Raymarine ©Ari Känsäkoski


Ari recently completed his 2,000 nautical mile qualifying solo sail, by sailing from Cherbourg up to Helsinki. This proved to be a difficult and testing sail with lots of upwind sailing in strong winds.

One problem Ari did have during this voyage was that the self-made hydro-generator lift system failed at the same time as the system for charging the batteries from the engine. “Finnish Remoran hydrogenator is the main energy source and due to lack of time when leaving I did not install a sufficiently robust lift system.”

Ari was able to repair the self-made lift and later managed to fix the engine charging problem having discovered a corroded connection. 

Ari now intends to completely replace Fuji’s wiring, together with a set of new batteries. He will be involved in the work needed so that he will be fully aware of the systems and will be able to carry out repairs if the need arises.

The failures he had to deal with during his qualifier also highlighted the need for redundancy in his systems with alternative power sources. Ari will be installing a second hydro-generator as well as a solar power system with the potential of producing up to 1,000 watts.

These further electricity generation systems will assist Ari to ensure that his GSC will be completed with zero carbon emissions, a subject on which Ari is a passionate expert.

Ari purchased ‘Fuji’ to compete in the Global Ocean Race 2015. Unfortunately, that race was cancelled. Since then, there hasn’t been any single-handed round-the-world race suitable for ‘Fuji’, so he was left waiting for the right opportunity which came about with the launch of the GSC.

In the meantime, Ari purchased many of the sails that he will be using in the GSC, including a heavy Dyneema main. The only sail he is waiting for is a new Solent (for your information, a Solent, is a 100% jib and is so-called, by many French sailors, as it is apparently the perfect headsail for sailing in the strong winds found in the Solent sea area, between the south of England and the Isle of Wight).

After a summer spent racing in many regattas in the Baltic, Ari and a crew of seven will return back to Cherbourg where any last-minute jobs, like final antifouling, will be undertaken before they head down across the Bay of Biscay to the Spanish port of A Coruña for the formalities and Ari’s departure in the GSC. Ari will set off in the second half of October.

Once Ari will have completed the GSC, he will return to Cherbourg with Fuji and finally back to Helsinki in time for the 2024 spring racing season.

Ari is a member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and after the GSC one of his commitments will be hosting the 2024 edition of the RORC Rochier Baltic Sea Race from Helsinki Around Gotland on a 635nm course starting 27th July 2024.