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Marine / Sail trainees enjoy Swan sessions ahead of Tall Ships

YOUNG people have enjoyed a series of seven sail training “taster” sessions on board the Swan ahead of the Tall Ships Races in the summer.

Taking place from Lerwick, with local skipper Maggie Adamson leading the way, these days acted as glimpses into the “incredible adventures” which lie ahead for applicants who will be selected to participate in a longer voyage for the Tall Ship Races.

The Sail Training Shetland scheme this year includes placements on Swan but also larger Class A vessels such as Statsraad Lehmkuhl, Christian Radich and Eendracht.

During their time aboard the Swan on the recent sessions, the trainees learned how to work as a team to operate the ropes and sails, as well as what it is like to take part in the Tall Ships Races as a trainee aboard a vessel.

Photo: Lakota Clubb

Speaking on behalf of the Swan Trust, vice chair Tommy Allan said: “With sail training at the heart of the Trust, we always love welcoming youth sail trainees aboard and the past seven days have been no exception.

“The trainees have all been fantastic, engaged and keen to experience more.  It must be an extra incentive for them to see that Swan’s crew this year are all previous trainees – something we are very proud of.

“Since Swan returned to Shetland in the early 1990s, the provision of maritime education, which used to be taught in schools and through local boating clubs, has all but disappeared.

“A trip on Swan may now be the only sailing experience our young people can access and, judging by the incredible level of applications received and the enthusiasm of those aboard, something our young folk are really keen to do.

“I wish them all luck in securing a placement for the Tall Ships Races 2023, and encourage those who do not secure a place this year to apply again in the future.”

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Sail training is said to be an activity which “inspires self-confidence and the recognition of personal responsibility, promotes an acceptance of others, whatever their social or cultural backgrounds, and develops a willingness to take controlled risk”.

Sail Training Shetland chair Peter Campbell said: “Sail Training Shetland and The Swan Trust have offered traineeships to take part in the Tall Ships Races for nearly 25 years, and every year trainees have had the best of experiences.

“I can remember the last two times Lerwick hosted the races, in 1999 and 2011 – the community events and atmosphere were fantastic and the parade of sail, watching the fleet sail out of Lerwick, was truly memorable.

“The taster days we have delivered this year show that young folk are keen to take part in a sail training adventure, and even more so when they can participate in this internationally renowned event returning to their own islands.

“With Lerwick being a host port, we have pushed ourselves to vastly increase the number of Tall Ships Races placements on offer this year, and the level of applications received has still far exceeded the placements available, which demonstrates the demand for these experiences to our various sponsors and funding bodies, and confirms to us as volunteers that all the time and energy we put into funding and organising these placements is worth it. 

“We know from years of running this scheme the huge benefits it can bring to the youths involved, and the wider community.”

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