SAILING: Training young people to sail in partnership with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

By Harry Bell

Funded sailing training programmes off the west coast of Scotland have been described as a ‘life-changing experience’ by participants.

The Our Isles and Oceans project launched in June and is training young people to sail in partnership with one of the biggest challenges in the world, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Our Isles and Oceans is the first new British team entry in the Clipper 2023-24 race and prior to that, will be training 120 young people over the next three years to sail with intention to then fund positions in the global race through its ambassador programme.

The Our Isles and Oceans mission statement is ‘Youth opportunity and professional development for sustainable livelihoods’.

The initiative intends on, through the vehicle of sport and business, highlighting the importance of a sustainable future for the next generation through activities and partnerships with sustainable organisations and enterprises.

Oban is a popular harbour for yachtsmen and women.

Says Benjamin Rowe, a 26 year-old cabaret singer : “My gigs disappeared overnight, so I’ve been doing home deliveries to keep me by. This is completely different, it’s been such an experience. Everyone needs to do this at least once in their life.

“Our Isles and Oceans has given me an opportunity that nothing else has before, my confidence has come back and I feel like I am ready to move into the next stage of my life.”

The sail training programme is led by the Clipper Race Training Team, under the guidance of deputy race director, Dale Smyth.

Each group of recruits have been challenged to learn new practical skills, develop their self-belief and work as a team.

The Clipper Race is the only event of its kind which offers everyday people the opportunity to train to become ocean racing sailors. The confidence built and the skills learnt through the sport of sailing can be transferred from on deck to the workplace which is why the first Our Isles and Oceans programme is on a Clipper Race yacht.

Harry Hunter, 18, said: “When we’re sailing, that feeling, you can’t get that anywhere else.

“I do landscaping and a bit of joinery, and I have a lot of mates who are joiners so now I want to build my own boat.

“It’s been the best experience of my life. I cannae say the same for other folk because they might’ve had better but I dinae think so. I think everyone’s enjoyed it as much as me.”

With young people being particularly impacted this past year, Our Isles and Oceans founders, David Stewart Howitt and Anthony Stodart, hope this new programme will make a positive change in the successful candidates’ lives.

“Our Isles and Oceans offers applicants the chance to learn from experienced professionals and to push themselves outside their comfort zone to equip them for the challenges of today’s marketplace.

“The success of the first two weeks, the ambassadors coming off the programme with smiles on their faces, make all the hard work worthwhile. We want to encourage young people to get back out there, to live their lives and we hope we’re giving back after all the sacrifices they have made for the older generation since the pandemic begun.”

Follow their journey at www.ourislesandoceans.co.uk

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