OFFSHORE competitor Rich Mason has arrived in Plymouth along with the 11 other Artemis Academy “rookies.”

They were familiarising themselves with the stretch of water separating the UK and Northern France in preparation for the 2014 ‘Solitaire du Figaro’.

For the first time in its 45-year history, the race stops in Ply-mouth. Making the most of their time in Britain, this next generation of solo ocean racers and their French counterparts braved the rain to get to grips with the tides of the south-west coastline.

The fleet of 12 Figaros were an impressive sight and were probably the most Figaros Plymouth will have seen since the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race.

Starting off from the historic French port of Deauville on June 8, the iconic French race will take 45 skippers and the 33ft keelboats 484 nautical miles to Plymouth. The second leg will be to Roscoff in France.

Mason is looking forward to lining up for the race and has been well prepared by the Artemis Offshore Academy, the UK’s only solo offshore training school.

This year is set to be a big one for Britain and its growing number of budding solo offshore sailors.