Articles Exmouth RNLI volunteer enters Round Britain and Ireland Race

Exmouth RNLI volunteer enters Round Britain and Ireland Race

Exmouth RNLI volunteer enters Round Britain and Ireland Race

Neil Matson, a volunteer Deputy Launching Authority at Exmouth RNLI, has joined the growing list of entrants for the 2014 Round Britain and Ireland Race run by the Royal Western Yacht Club of England in Plymouth.

It’ll be the first time he’s taken part in the legendary event, which runs every four years and he’ll be joined by Adrian Troop from Ottery St Mary.

The two-handed race, which will start on 1 June, began back in 1966 and starts and ends in Plymouth with stop overs in four ports. Entries are now being accepted for the event, which is open to all yachts and multihulls between 30 and 50 feet in length, crewed by two people only. Neil (59) will be competing in his Dufour 34 Performance Vela Fresca, which he keeps on the River Exe.   He says retirement means he can now indulge in his sailing passion;

‘When I was working as a Clinical Psychologist I had to fit the sailing in around work and family commitments. Fortunately I love single and double handed sailing, which was handy when the children were too little to be at sea for any time and my wife didn’t relish long passages.  I however, love the challenge of short-handed offshore racing and long distance sailing and have been to the Canaries and back and competed in a number of offshore races including the AZAB race to the Azores and back in 2011.’

‘Last year Adrian and I sailed the boat back from Madeira via the Azores. It was a gruelling trip, 1,400 miles on a beat in force 5 to 8 winds. It took 10 days and we were very bedraggled at the end. Despite this when I texted Adrian asking if he’d like to do the Round Britain and Ireland Race he still said yes and fortunately that trip acts as our qualifier so we are all systems go.’

‘Robin Knox-Johnston is a hero of mine so it’s great to follow in his wake with the Round Britain and Ireland Race and the highlight for me will be the challenge of this kind of racing. We were first in our class for the AZAB race but in this event I just want to finish successfully and having sailed the boat well.  The bit I don’t look forward to is the sea sickness, which I usually suffer from in the first few days.’

‘I think it’s entirely appropriate that the RNLI is the chosen charity for the 2014 event, especially with our focus on coastal safety and actually I’m surprised that this partnership hasn’t been thought of before.’

Adrian Troop (51) first started sailing as a boy in dinghies and in his Dad’s yacht. After a gap of more than 12 years when he started a family, Adrian came back to the sport in his mid-thirties. The owner of a Devon Yawl and an Etap 32, he’s done some offshore racing but the Round Britain and Ireland Race is his first major challenge:

‘I’ve never done an event of this magnitude before but Neil is an inspirational skipper, a man made of steel, and I can’t think of a better person to face this race with.  When we sailed back from Madeira I learnt a huge amount from Neil and I actually enjoyed the passage despite the prevailing conditions. His belief is that if you look after the boat, the boat will look after you and it’s that professional approach to sailing that has built a trust in our friendship.’

‘Sailing Round Britain and Ireland certainly isn’t something I would take on myself but I like the idea of doing it with someone more experienced and it really is a unique opportunity that I’m very excited about. I’m just busy getting fit now.’

‘I’m an offshore member of the RNLI so I’m delighted that the charity has been chosen to benefit as part of the race. To me it’s a perfect partnership and I hope the RNLI will be rewarded well by the tie up.’

Author: Tamsin Thomas, RNLI Public Relations Manager for the South West