Matson sails into class honours in the Azores Islands race

PUBLISHED: 18:26 29 June 2011



June has been an intense period for offshore racers from the River Exe, write Steve and Rachel Hughes,

Neil Matson, our single-handed long distance sailor, took part in the classic race to the Azores Islands (AZAB) and took line honours in his class and second on handicap, despite very testing weather conditions towards the finish.

He also had to contend with malfunction to his steering gear, which he managed to repair while under way.

He is currently homeward bound on the return leg to Falmouth – this time with son Sam as crew.

In a week which saw the drought well and truly broken, five crews from the Exe joined 17 other yachts in the South Devon Offshore Racing Series which comprised a weeklong series of races across to the Channel Islands and off the coast of North Brittany, visiting the ports of Treguier, Trebeurden and Perros Gueric. On the outbound race, Maybee sailed by Martin Minter scooped a second place, while Stardust sailed by Steve and Rachel Hughes came fourth in their fleet, with Fable sailed by Exe Sailing Club Commodore, Rex Frost, fifth – after some tricky sailing around the south side of Guernsey.

The race from Guernsey to Treguier on the rock strewn North Brittany coast was postponed due to violent weather, but subsequently the gale having gone through, Maybee again scored a second and Fable a fourth. Chris Rhodes sailing his new high performance yacht Footloose was third in his fleet and went on to win all the subsequent coastal races and score second overall.

The final race back across the Channel to Dartmouth was brought forward owing to the threat of the next gale. A strong westerly breeze powered the fleet back at speed with Maybee again scoring second to consolidate her position as second overall.

The offshore event was organised by Tim Whitehead of the Royal Torbay Yacht Club and as always, was complemented by a rich social programme, as well as providing an opportunity to explore the charming hideaways on the French coast and to test navigational skills in strong tides and narrow approaches.

Later in the same week, a further six yachts from Exe Sailing Club joined up for the annual cruise to France, for obvious reasons known as the Wine Run. They too had to deal with some fairly challenging conditions, but most reached their intended port of Carteret on the Contentin Peninsula. The precious cargo of French wine and cheese will be tasted and compared sometime soon!

Finally a reminder to all that entries for the River Exe Regatta close on Wednesday, July 6.

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