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Ten-minute chat
  1. David Mason


Vet David Mason and his four-strong crew will be among thousands of sailors taking part in the Round the Island Race around the Isle of Wight on June 1. He will be raising money in aid of the BSAVA's charity PetSavers.

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Why is Round the Island described as Britain's favourite race?

The race started in 1931; it's 50 nautical miles long with 1700 boats and 16,000 sailors participating. It's an opportunity for amateurs to compete against world- renowned sailors like Sir Ben Ainslie and Dame Ellen Macarthur – it's the largest mass participation yacht race in the world, and the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK.

Have you entered before?

We entered last year but having attended the weather briefing the day before, which warned of 12 foot waves, we retired when we got to the Needles.

Who will be sailing with you?

Alongside myself will be Duncan Ross who is also a vet at the Shrubbery, plus my uncle and son-in-law, as well as a friend. A couple of other friends are also helping get the boat to Cowes – it takes about four days.

How tricky is it negotiating around 1700 other yachts?

Tricky – especially at the start – but we go off in groups of about 200, about half an hour apart. The Solent is pretty wide, but going round the Needles can be a bit unnerving.

How long does it take to sail around the Isle of Wight?

The current record is three hours, 53 minutes, so the first boat could be back before we start; we're hoping to complete it in under 10 hours.

How much time do you get to sail?

Kora is moored close to my home in Suffolk, so I get out on her quite a bit in the summer. Later this year we hope to go over to see a Dutch veterinary colleague and that will be our first time crossing the Channel.

Why PetSavers?

I was chairman of fundraising for PetSavers about 20 years ago; I like supporting a charity that, through its studies, provides regular improvements in small animal medicine. With the yacht race and the London 10K, which I am doing with my daughter Kelly in July, we hope to raise £500. AT Systems, Bayer, Henry Schein, Merial, Virbac and Zoetis have already sponsored the boat, and we hope to be a floating PetSavers billboard.

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Have you done much racing?

I did a bit of racing as a teenager, and at the RVC, which had a couple of Firefly dinghies on the Welsh Harp reservoir in north London; the principles are the same in bigger boats.

Have you had any embarrassing yachting moments?

Like most sailors, I've fallen in a few times – I always wear a lifejacket so luckily I have never been in serious danger. I've run the boat aground (fortunately only on sand), and I was once rescued by a volunteer lifeboat after deliberately jumping out of a dinghy for a swim off the beach at Felixstowe.

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