Exmouth sailor Matson still the best placed rookie in the 2014 Solitaire du Figaro race

Sam Matson on board his Artemis boat Sam Matson on board his Artemis boat

Thursday, June 19, 2014
10:52 AM

Exmouth solo skipper Sam Matson (Artemis 21) surfed into Roscoff, France under a moonlit sky on Wednesday morning to finish the second leg of the Solitaire du Figaro 18th overall and third Rookie.

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Having raced two of the four legs that make up the full 2014 mile Solitaire course, Sam maintains his overall Rookie lead by 18 minutes and 14 seconds and sits an impressive 14th overall on the Solitaire du Figaro leaderboard after two legs.

Sailing 540 miles in straight lines from Plymouth, UK to Roscoff, France via Fastnet Rock, Leg 2 looked like a straight forward speed run on paper, however with moderate but shifty winds, TSSexclusion zones to navigate and a shut down at Fastnet Rock in the Irish Sea – there was still a tactical game to be played. Positioned 31st on the second day of racing (Monday, June 16), by that very evening British Rookie Sam had pulled back 12 positions to 18th on the approach to the Scilly Isles. It was here that Sam entered into a Rookie podium grudge match with Artemis teammate Rich Mason (Artemis 77) and Gwenolé Gahinet (Safran-Guy Cotten).

With early front-runner Sébastien Simon (Crédit Mutuel Espoir) having sailed away with the Leg 2 Rookie podium top spot, the race was on for second and third. Rich was the first skipper to drop behind, leaving Sam and Gwenolé to battle it out to the end – Sam eventually finishing just one minute behind the young Frenchman after three days, five hours, 33 minutes and 51 seconds of racing.

Back on the docks Matson said: “First British skipper home for a second time, leading Rookie overall and top 20 on the overall leader board – of course I’m happy, I’m chuffed. It was a great race.

“I think I paced myself quite well in this leg. There’s always the danger that when you’re at the back of the fleet like I was at the beginning of the race, you push too hard and then knacker yourself out for the rest of the race. I started at the back of the fleet after a poor windward leeward start in Plymouth Sound, but from there I slowly gained places and didn’t loose any – that’s a really nice feeling.

“I was pretty gutted to lose out to Gwenolé just coming into the finish line, but he made some good calls and I think he probably was working a bit harder that I was, not that I was taking it easy, but I didn’t see him leave the helm once on the final leg – he was just driving hard all the way home and for that he deserved his lead. Sébastien (Simon, Leg 2 Rookie winner) sailed a killer race from the off, as did Gwenolé sail a great race. They deserve first and second. It’s nice to know I’m competitive amongst the fleet.”

The next (third) leg of the race starts Sunday June 22, taking skippers 505 miles from Roscoff, France, to Les Sables d’Olonne, France – home of the Vendée Globe.

For updates from the race as it happens, visit the Artemis Offshore Academy website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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