Matson on his way in the Falmouth 500 race.

PUBLISHED: 14:21 29 June 2010 | UPDATED: 14:21 29 June 2010




The early sailing season has been a busy time for the cruiser racing fleet of ESC, writes Rachel Hughes.

On the final Sunday of May, Neil Matson sailing his boat Vela Fresca set off from Falmouth as a single-handed competitor in the Falmouth 500 Race.

The course took him around the Fastnet Rock off the coast of Ireland and then down to Ushant off the West Brittany Coast, and then back to Falmouth. From his account the last 100 miles were the toughest, requiring a long beat into 25plus knots of wind, rough seas and driving rain through the night.

Many competitors retired but Neil stayed on, recording a win in his class and second overall - an achievement all the more notable - since having finished he sailed directly on to Torquay to pick up his crew and join a fleet of 17 other boats for a week of racing across the English Channel and then around the Channel Islands and Brittany coast.

Two other boats from Exe SC , Stardust and Exuberant, also joined this Offshore Week organised by the Royal Torquay Yacht Club, and enjoyed a busy programme of competitive and cultural pursuits both on and off the water.

Strong tides and variable winds meant that some races had to be shortened or abandoned, but of those completed Exuberant scored a win and Vela Fresca a third and a fourth.

On returning to Torquay, Vela Fresca immediately set out on another long distance race - this time sailing two-up with Neil and his son Sam Matson as crew.

Neil and Sam placed second in the first leg of the prestigious Triangle Race which took them from Torbay to Kinsale in Ireland.

We have just learned that they scored second again in the subsequent leg from Kinsale to Treguier in northern France, which positions them well for a good result overall.

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