AFLOAT: Mason begins offshore bid

Dorset Echo: MASON'S MISSION: Richard Mason MASON'S MISSION: Richard Mason

RICH Mason has taken on the challenge of the prestigious Offshore Race.

After a year of preparation, the Artemis Offshore Academy’s eight British solo sailors set off on the 484-mile leg one of the 2014 Solitaire du Figaro – from Deauville to Plymouth.

There were eight British boats on the start line and a strong British flavour to the race with seven channel crossings.

The Solitaire du Figaro sees the very latest new crop of solo talent and past legends compete side by side on a level playing field.

If the sailors can perform well in this arena then their future in solo sailing is more assured.

Crossing the start line at 12:00 last Sunday in eight to 10 knots of northerly breeze were 2014 British Solitaire Rookies Mason (Artemis 77), Alan Roberts (Art-emis 23) and Sam Matson (Artemis 21) who put in a promising performance while making their Solitaire du Figaro debut.

Mason, the first of the Rookies to round the first mark in 15th, explained his objective for the race. “The first thing I need to do is just finish.

“Four hundred and eighty-four miles is a long way, I’ve not spent four nights at sea before and I’ve not raced the Solitaire du Figaro before, so getting to Plymouth in once piece is the first thing and if I can stay in touch with the other Rookies, then that is fantastic.”

The wind over the four days was variable, shut downs and thunderstorms, making the racing challenging.

The 2014 Solitaire du Figaro covers 2,014 miles over four legs, concluding early July in Cher-bourg, France.

This 45th edition of the race, has the biggest and strongest line-up of British sailors the Solitaire has ever seen.

There were eight British boats on the start line and a strong British flavour to the race with seven channel crossings and a UK stop-over in Plymouth.

Mason finished third British Rookie and 27th overall on the first leg of the race, thereby achieving his objective.

* You can track the British fleet via the Artemis Offshore Academy and Solitaire du Figaro websites.

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