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Sail Training Taster Days Prove Extremely Popular

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5 August 2021

Sail Training Shetland and The Swan Trust have just finished 6 days of sail training taster days onboard Swan, for 13-23 year olds. Taking place from 28th July to 2nd August, with a new set of trainees each day, the experiences offered young people the opportunity to sail the Swan and hear more about future voyages with Sail Training Shetland, including taking part in The Tall Ships Races.

Due to Covid-19, the taster days were a new offer from the sail training organisations, which proved to be incredibly popular. Applications opened late June, looking for 30 trainees to take part over 3 days. This was exceeded very quickly, with 57 applications received in total. In response to demand, a further 3 taster days were added to make sure all applicants could take part.

Peter Campbell, Chairman of Sail Training Shetland, said: “We were thrilled with the interest, which bodes well for Shetland hosting the Tall Ships Races again in 2023. Sail training is a unique experience, which builds confidence, skills and friendships and we hope these days will inspire those aboard to take part in a longer voyage when possible. We are very grateful to our sponsors for enabling us to offer the taster days free of charge, along with Summer Activities for Children and Young People Funding from the Scottish Government. This meant that we could offer all applicants a sailing experience, especially important as we emerge from the pandemic, which we know has been particularly difficult for young people.”

While sail training includes instruction in all aspects of sailing, its purpose goes far beyond this. It uses the experience of being at sea principally as a means to help young people learn about themselves and to discover hidden strengths and talents. It also builds self-confidence, independence, team working, communication skills and friendships. Furthermore, although the day sails gave just a small taste of a longer passage at sea, it enabled trainees to learn about working a boat, including working sails, watch systems, taking the helm, and basic navigation, as well as learn more about the Tall Ships Races and the role of Sail Training Shetland in this as they prepare to offer increased numbers of sailing voyages in preparation for Lerwick being a host port in 2023.

Rachel Dorrat, a previous sail trainee who helped during the trips said “I’ve had such a fantastic day on board Swan. There haven't been many events during the past year or so for our age group to get excited about, so it’s brilliant to get the chance to go sailing! I can’t wait for the opportunity to sail further afield too. When the Tall Ships Races 2023 arrive in Lerwick, I’m so looking forward to the atmosphere, events and perhaps, if I’m lucky enough, the chance to sail on a larger Tall Ship and experience a longer voyage with Sail Training Shetland - there’s lots to look forward to!”

Tommy Allan, Trustee of The Swan Trust, said: “Our long-standing partnership with Sail Training Shetland has enabled hundreds of young people to experience sailing Swan and take part in international festivals, such as Tall Ships Races. These taster days will build foundations for 2023 and beyond, and we hope to welcome many of those taking part for longer journeys in years to come.”

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