Students Set Sail on an Ocean Adventure
School students from Cornwall sailed an ocean racing yacht last month in a pioneering project designed to inspire and boost the confidence of young teenagers.
The selected students (aged 14-19 years) from Treviglas Community College in Newquay were the first in the country to join the awesome sailing experience, and received the same training given to round-the-world yachtsmen and women.
The project is a result of a partnership between Cornish company The Adventure Centre and Clipper Ventures – the organisation that runs and prepares sailors for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
As part of the nine-day programme, the youngsters received two days of intensive outdoors training with The Adventure Centre at Lusty Glaze Beach. These shore based exercises included team-building challenges, first aid and surf rescue training, rope rigging and abseiling.
The Newquay group then travelled to Plymouth for professional sailing instruction on board a 60ft racing yacht. After initial safety briefing and orientation, the youngsters sailed a big boat from Plymouth to Dartmouth, then on to the Solent, in very strong winds and rough seas.
Despite the particularly challenging conditions, all the participants said they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Teenager Daryl Kent said: “I loved this trip. It was the best week of my life and I would do it again because it is much better than school.”
Fellow student Jacey added: “It was like a dream world; a once in a lifetime experience.”
These comments were echoed by all involved with the project. David Cusworth, sailing programme manager for Clipper Training, commented: “Staff, students and parents all agree that the exercise was an exceptional success. The group faced their fears and overcame obstacles to achieve something memorable and remarkable.”
He added: “The training they received was the same we give to people joining the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. It is technically challenging stuff and was not watered down because of their age.
“None of them had ever done anything like this before. They never dreamed they would one day sail on a round-the-world yacht. The students have done themselves and their school proud.”
Organisers worked with Cornwall Council and The Learning Partnership for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to secure funding for the sailing programme through European Social Convergence Funding and the Learning and Skills Network Molenet project.
The Molenet project provided the students with handheld devices which they used to record their experiences through written, video and photographic diaries.
The Adventure Centre’s Tracey Griffiths, who spearheaded the scheme with Clipper, is excited about the potential of the project.
Mrs Griffiths commented: “The project is designed to inspire teenagers and give them the confidence to do something constructive with their lives, perhaps by entering further education in the marine industry. Some may even decide to join a leg of the round-the-world race.”
At the end of the nine-day course, the students returned to Lusty Glaze Beach in Newquay for a presentation and beach barbecue to celebrate completion of the potentially life-changing experience.
During the presentation, the students watched a video link with legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who was the first person to sail single-handed, non-stop around the world.
The yachtsman and chairman of Clipper Ventures said: “2,000 people have sailed around the world with Clipper since 1996. It has proved an enormous success for all those who have dared and achieved. Many started with no knowledge of sailing, but they finished as experienced and accomplished sailors.
“I want participants to realise that if you really want something badly enough, and make the effort, and it does not have to be sailing, you can achieve your dreams.”
The group behind the project is now looking at funding opportunities to allow more young people to benefit from the unique sailing adventure in the future.
* See the sailing scetion for more information on sailing lessons andlearning to sail in Cornwall.