Ottery family's gruelling Fastnet feat

PUBLISHED: 10:30 28 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:07 18 June 2010

The Matson family who competed in the Fastnet race recently

The Matson family who competed in the Fastnet race recently

Father and son Neil and Sam Matson (18), from Ottery St Mary, crossed the Plymouth finishing line in the Fastnet race, to take 47th place in the IRC3 class, writes Mike Rice.

Father and son Neil and Sam Matson (18), from Ottery St Mary, crossed the Plymouth finishing line in the Fastnet race, to take 47th place in the IRC3 class, writes Mike Rice.

Now Neil Matson can tell the story of this gruelling race in his own words: "There was a lot of drizzle and rain with winds from 0 - 28 knots, and we seemed to be beating into the wind most of the way, but it was a great race.

We were becalmed off St Albans Head for hours and we should have put an anchor down to avoid losing ground with the tide. Crossing the Celtic Sea there was a horrible, boat slamming chop and when we were within 20 nautical miles of the Fastnet Rock, we were almost becalmed again.

"We managed to creep round the rock at about two knots. We thought we would have the wind behind us to take us on a run to the Scillies but, no sooner had we gone around the spreader mark than the wind turned and we were again on a (slow) beat. As we reached Bishop's Rock the wind moved around to the South West and increased and we were, at last, on a run - 100 nautical miles with the spinnaker to Plymouth.

"This was an amazing run, with speeds in excess of 10 knots in the darkness and Sam doing the sail trimming. We crossed the finish line in the early hours of Saturday morning, five days and 15 hours after leaving Cowes, to take 47th place in the IRC3 class.

This was a major event for the Matson family, as Neil's eldest son Mike was also in the race, crewing on the Class 2 boat Artemis.

As Matson said to the event organisers on arrival at Plymouth: "This was the first time we had competed in the Rolex Fastnet Race and the challenge of taking part in a renowned offshore race such as this, along with the opportunity of doing it with my son, is my reason for taking part.

"It was an amazing experience.


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