Exmouth sailor Sam Matson in top two finish by Rookies in the Solitaire Du Figaro single-handed race

22:52 02 July 2014

Sam Matson at the end of the Solitaire du Figaro race which ended at Cherbourg.

Sam Matson at the end of the Solitaire du Figaro race which ended at Cherbourg.

Archant

Exmouth sailor Sam Matson completed the Solitaire Du Figaro single-handed race when he sailed into Cherbourg harbour at the end of the fourth and final leg of the famous race, writes Steve Birley.

After wishing for a windy leg for the first three legs, the British skippers got what they’d wished for and it broke them!

The course was shortened to 440nm from 490nm to avoid a ridge of high pressure that would have slowed the boats from the Needles Fairway to Cherbourg, so instead the 36 skippers went from Les Sables d’Olonne, through the Chaussée du Sein and on a windy kite run in 30 knots to Ouessant lighthouse.

After Ouessant they thought the conditions would relax, but they didn’t! All of the British skippers said they had expected to sleep here, but they couldn’t and they could barely hold on to their spinnakers in the wind. From Ouessant they raced to the Manacles buoy off of Lizard Point and then upwind all the way to Cherbourg. Leg four was a typical Figaro leg, tough, physical and fast - compared to the light and tactical racing they have endured over the previous three legs.

Coming into the docks the guys hair was wild, their faces red and crusted with salt - sporting the authentic offshore look.

Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) was the first British skipper into Cherbourg in 13th, and Sam Matson was the third Brit home in 25th and third Rookie in Leg Four.

However, this result was enough to see Sam finish the 2014 Solitaire du Figaro 15th overall and second Rookie – the Artemis sailing Academy’s best British result this year and an amazing result for the Exmouth skipper.

In 2013 Jack Bouttell became the first British skipper to ever win the Solitaire du Figaro Rookie division, and he finished 21st overall - so that just goes to show the high level of competition that was among the seven skipper Rookie fleet this year.

After the obligatory spraying of champagne over his boat Artemis 21, and a hug from Mum and Dad, Matson spoke of the race.

He said: “The Solitaire du Figaro is one massive mixed bag of emotions. A full month of sailing to the extreme, I certainly experienced a lot of things that I’ve never done before – it was a pretty incredible experience. I don’t know anywhere else you could go and feel and work so hard for a month.

“The first 24 hours of this were my lowest for sure. I got stuck in a wind hole and watched everyone sail off. The highs were tacking up the shore past Guernsey this morning, taking fast and taking back the places. Just generally sailing well – as well as there being a nice sunrise and flat water.

“We had a lot more wind for this leg, up to 30 knots at some points. It was much more of a Figaro leg – but it was also quite disappointing because where I dropped back so much in the beginning, it was more like I was trying to play catch up that really enjoying the race and try and make a dent on the leaderboard. That was pretty frustrating. But this leg was really good, the sailing was good, the conditions were good and I really enjoyed it once I got back in with the fleet.

“Coming in from a tough fourth and final Solitaire du Figaro leg to find out that I’m 15th overall and second Rookie is absolutely overwhelming. It’s an unbelievable achievement. My main goal was to get on the Rookie podium and I’ve done that and to finish 15th overall is absolutely incredible. When you look at Jack last year finishing top Rookie in 21st overall, and this year 15th is second – it really shows the level of the Rookie competition this year. It’s not been easy, but Gwenolé Gahinet is a great guy and he deserves the win.

“I’m going to head back to the UK this weekend, and hopefully start putting together a campaign that is even bigger and better for 2015.”

The Exmouth Journal then spoke with Sam and asked what his pre-race expectations had been. He replied: “I went into this race expecting to be face with every thing, and I’ve come out of it having been through everything. It was incredibly tough, so in terms of the race itself the challenges were expected. What I didn’t expect was my results – what a bonus.”

As for what was the hardest part fop the race, Matson answered: “The hardest part of the race is when you’re at the back of the fleet, trying to keep a leveled and positive mindset. At soon as you let it get to you, you end up in a dark and inefficient place and you spiral. You need to just keep going and think about the gains that could come up later. Each leg is a long race and I’ve managed to come back from further down the fleet in most of the legs - just because I’ve not let it get to me. It’s really mentally tough when you’ve been spat out that back, but being confident that there will be an opportunity to get back in the race is really beneficial to doing that.”

With regard to the best part of the race, he said: “The best part of the race for me was sailing into Plymouth. That was so cool. And to come home with such a great result was just crazy. There’s plenty of moments when you’re racing where you start talking to yourself, or singing, or talking to the boat. When you snap out of that, that can be amusing. I also had a pigeon hitch a lift with me for a day or so. I talked to him quite a lot, but he kept getting in the way and I trod on him at one point and he wasn’t very happy about that. So I had to push it off.”

As for his eating during the voyage, Matson said: “I’ve really enjoyed eating pate and dried bread. I don’t know why because I don’t even really like pate. I think I must be really fed up of freeze-dried food. Anything not out of a packed and that you don’t have to add water to, to eat, is a bit of a treat.”

As to what he did first on getting Artemis 21tied up, he said: “The first thing I did when I hit the dock today was popped a bottle of Pol Roger Champagne, spray it over the team and then hug my Mum and Dad. Then I got off the boat and jumped about a bit to test that the ground wasn’t moving.”

Last, but not least, we asked him what happens to his boat now. He said: “Artemis 21 now goes back to the UK and is still my responsibility until September. Once back in Cowes, we start quite a busy corporate season with Artemis, and I’m also helping with the 2014 Selection Trials for next year’s squad – see who is worthy to take her on in 2015.”

Sam – we salute you on a tremendous sail!

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sidmouth Herald visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sidmouth Herald staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sidmouth Herald account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other Sport Stories

11:54

The Exmouth and District Netball League begins a new season next month.

Read more
11:17
N1 Tri Club's George Tomkins at the Sherborne event

After a quiet few weeks on the competition scene, N1 Tri Club members were clearly inspired by the superb performances of Team GB triathletes in Rio and were back out swimming, biking and running their way to podium finishes again this weekend, writes Ellie Dominey.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:09

Beer Albion’s loyal supporters who travelled to Winslade Park on Saturday were left wondering how their team contrived to lose their opening Macron Devon and Exeter League Premier Division encounter with Clyst Valley 2-1, after being in control for long periods of the game, writes Richard Honnor.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:08
Exeter Chris Richards Falcons who rode a second half meeting at Somerset on Friday 13th May. Riders numbers 1 Henry Atkins, 2 Craig Nethercott, 3 Stevie Anderson, 4 Saul Bulley with team managers Rob Doran (wearing glasses) and Alan Spencer.
Picture by Kim Wyllie. Ref exsp falcons

Exeter Chris Richards Falcons were in action last Friday at Plymouth where they rode a second half meeting against Devon Demons.

Read more
Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sidmouth could have the Devon double in the bag by Sunday night if they win the golden jubilee Euro Shopper Devon Cup final, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

Read more
Thursday, August 18, 2016
golf generic picture

On Wednesday Sidmouth Ladies played for the Arthur Skinner President’s Cup, writes Maria Clapp.

Read more
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Wood Driver by Golf Ball June 2000

On Saturday, club president Roger Bawden held his first president’s Day, writes John Barnard.

Read more
Thursday, August 18, 2016
There were great conditions for sailing races at Sidmouth on Saturday. Ref shsp 30-16SH 2158. Picture: Simon Horn.

Sailors are continuing to enjoy the warm sunny weather which has remained unusually breezy, writes John Keast.

Read more
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Cricket

Ottery St Mary II became only the third team this season to lose to Ipplepen when they went down by a margin of 46 runs in a contest that saw the bat rule over the ball throughout.

Read more
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Sidmouth Cricket Club at The Fortfield

Sidmouth thrashed Plymouth by 126 runs in a game that was over long before the end, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 16°C

Most Read Sport

Great British Life


Great British Life

Useful Links

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Competitions
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the Sidmouth Herald e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up


HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists


Local business directory

Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications