Unique Tall Ships Experiences Up for Grabs

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21 February 2023

Sail Training Shetland are inviting applications from young people aged 15 – 25 to take part in The Tall Ships Races 2023 this summer, with a series of free Taster Day Sails aboard the Swan in April to whet the appetite. Young people from all over Shetland can apply for an inspiring, action-packed voyage at sea, providing a unique experience, the opportunity for travel, international friendships, and festivals in host ports.

With thanks to generous sponsors, and fundraising by Sail Training Shetland, the experiences are fully funded in recognition of what is an exceptional opportunity to participate when Lerwick hosts the Races between 26 – 29 July this year. However, that does mean that spaces will be limited.

The application process will be in two stages, but only one application from needs to be submitted. Stage 1 will be a taster day sail aboard Shetland's very own Tall Ship, Swan, after which Sail Training Shetland will select successful applicants to go onto stage 2 - being offered a Tall Ships Races placement. These placements will take place across the Cruise in Company and Race 3 legs of the event.

Trainees will take part in the Cruise in Company, onboard three very different ships Eendracht, Christian Radich and Swan. Joining the ships at Fredrikstad, Norway, the trainees will enjoy an adventure sail across the Norwegian and Scottish coastline, stopping in at various guest harbours along the route, including in Shetland, before arriving at Lerwick.

A second group of trainees will join the fleet at Lerwick for Race 3, to Arendal in Norway, onboard Swan. During their placements the trainees and crew will enjoy the warm hospitality and festival programmes provided at Fredrikstad, Lerwick and Arendal.

Absolutely no sailing experience is needed to take part, just a keen sense of adventure and a willingness to try something new. Trainees will work under the guidance of the ship’s crew to learn a wide range of hands-on skills, such as watch-keeping, setting sails and other domestic duties which they will share during their time onboard.

With the charity keen to hear from young people it has not previously supported, Sail Training Shetland is also proudly supporting four ambassadors from last year’s scheme to help promote sail training to new applicants. Over 300 sail trainees have been supported to date, with outstanding feedback from both trainees and their families.

Peter Campbell, Chair of Sail Training Shetland, said: “We are so excited for the return of the Tall Ships Races to our home shores and the opportunity to welcome the fleet here for a third time. Having Shetland trainees take part with their peers on these magnificent ships will provide a lifetime of memories and valuable life skills, reaping the benefits of increased self-confidence, independence, team working, communication skills and testing their personal and physical boundaries”.

Maggie Adamson, Skipper of the Swan, said: "We are delighted to be working with Sail Training Shetland again this year, in providing both Taster Day Sails and Tall Ships Races placements. Sail Training Shetland provide fantastic opportunities for our young people, and we would encourage anyone eligible to apply. You really do need absolutely no experience to take part and, from a crew members perspective, I can say that seeing our young folk come aboard a bit unsure and nervous but leave a competent and confident member of the crew is one of the most rewarding, and best, parts of my job."

The closing date for online applications is 5pm, Friday 31st March 2023.

If you are aged 15-25 and not a Shetland resident, find out more about sponsored Tall Ships Races opportunities open to you here.

If you are aged over 25, or 15-25 and self-funding your placement, click here for opportunities to join ships for the Tall Ships Races.

Find out more about the Swan Trust's youth sail training work here.

If you would like to help support Swan follow these links to donate or volunteer with the Trust.

Anyone can sail on Swan, for details of trips available to book check out our upcoming trips


Want to get involved in maintaining and operating a traditional wooden sailing vessel? There are a number of different ways you can volunteer to safeguard, care for and sail this unique heritage asset.

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