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Swan Skipper Named International Sail Trainer of the Year 2022

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21 November 2022

The Swan Trust’s Skipper, Maggie Adamson, has been announced Sail Trainer of the Year 2022 at the Sail Training International Awards in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

The International Sail trainer of the year award recognises a high performing professional sail trainer, who delivers a sail training programme for young people at sea. On learning of her award, Maggie said: “I’m absolutely delighted, and want to recognise the hard work of all the Swan crew, volunteers and the Trust itself, as well as the enthusiasm of the trainees and other crews they met during the races. This has all culminated in this special end to a fantastic season.”

Maggie has sailed as part of the Swan crew since 2016 and, with the help of the Trust, she qualified as a skipper in 2019. Due to Covid, 2022 has been Maggie’s first full season as skipper, and what a season it has been!

In terms of youth sail training, this year alone, Maggie has welcomed 216 primary pupils aboard for half day sails and 110 trainees aged 15-25 for full sail training taster days, as well as 37 trainees aged 15-25 for overnight and longer passages - which included 30 days taking part in the Tall Ships Races with Sail Training Shetland trainees, visiting Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium, followed by the Excelsior Trust Centenary Smack Race, in Lowestoft, England.

With Maggie as skipper, 2022 has been the most successful Tall Ships Races the Swan Trust has ever had, with awards for Most Welcoming Ship; Best in Crew Parade and coming 3rd in Class B in Race one from Esbjerg to Harlingen.

Everyone has given excellent feedback about Maggie and how she interacts with all ages, shares her knowledge at a level they understand and inspires them to believe in themselves as individuals and a crew. Some of the comments received from Sail Training Shetland Trainees included:

During the trip, someone explained to me the difference between a “Captain” and a “Skipper”: you achieve the title of “captain” through your qualifications, but you achieve the title of “skipper” by earning the respect of your crew - Maggie is definitely a skipper. She naturally inspired and motivated our crew during our trip, and made us all want to try our best for her and ourselves. The respect she showed us made us automatically respect her.

Maggie taught me to be a better sailor and motivated me to become a better person with how upbeat and motivated she always is.

Maggie is so patient and calm in every situation and we realised how lucky we were to have her as our skipper when we had to make difficult manoeuvres in locks and went through extremely busy areas of the North Sea, where she stayed amazingly calm and gave clear instructions which led to us getting through these situations without a stress. I will forever be in awe of Maggie’s talent, success and kindness; she is a good leader to both adults and young people and has an endless skill set.

She was an excellent teacher, there was never a question that wasn’t answered with enthusiasm and clear explanations no matter how silly.

Even in the depths of a watch in the pitch black when everyone was tired, she did a great job of keeping our spirits up, keeping us entertained and engaged with the job at hand. Maggie carried this attitude into port where she joined in the crew games and encouraged us all to make the most of our time ashore and meet crews from other vessels.

We are very lucky to have such a talented, passionate, and inspiring Sail Trainer in Shetland!

The Annual Sail Training International Awards are presented to vessels, vessel operators, individuals and organisations that have made a significant contribution to sail training. The winners are decided by a Sail Training International Awards Committee and are announced at their annual conference. This is not the first time The Swan Trust has been recognised at the awards, with previous awards for Sail Training Organisation of the Year (2011), Young volunteer of the year (Ailish Parham, 2013), and Young Sail Trainer of the Year (Scott Sandison, 2014).

Peter Campbell, Trustee of the Swan Trust SCIO, said: “For a small sail training organisation, operating one of the smaller ships in the International Tall Ships fleet, our excellent youth sail training work has not gone unnoticed. Maggie is very deserving of this accolade, and we could not be prouder of her, and her work. We are also so proud that she has come up through her training with the Trust, and of her achievements in other sailing circles. She is one motivated, energetic and inspirational individual, and we are delighted to call her our Skipper. Congratulations to Maggie, and we are looking forward to 2023.”

Youth sail training is at the heart of the Trust, and is an experience which builds self-confidence, independence, team working and communication skills. Like Maggie, many previous Swan Trust trainees have gone onto marine careers, but the life skills gained on a sail training adventure are transferrable to any discipline, and all previous trainees have said their Swan sail training experience has helped them in their future education and/or career path.

The Trust is a charity which relies on volunteers and a range of funding to cover its annual costs. If you would like to support the Trust, you can volunteer or donate.

Representatives of The Tall Ships Races Lerwick, who were at the awards ceremony, collected the award on Maggie’s behalf. Thier Director, Sandra Laurenson, officially presented Maggie with her Award at the Swan Trust end of season gathering.

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