Three Explorer Scouts from Wisbech flew out to Turku, Finland to join the Class C Yacht, Offshore Scout to take part in the International Tall Ships Race from Turku, Finland to Klaipeda, Lithuania
The Explorer Scouts, from the 2nd Wisbech Scout Group are Philip Taylor, aged 18, James Geddis, 16 and James Nott, 17
Offshore Scout is operated by Adventures Offshore, a Sail Training organisation aimed primarily at young people and part of the Scout Association.
Back in Wisbech, the Explorers are Plane Sailing with a 20th place in the 'C' Class and 39th out of 103 entrants overall. This is the best performance by Offshore Scout in any Tall Ships Race and the crew were clapped and cheered as they moored up in Lithuania.
The Tall Ships Races are organised by Sail Training International and offer young people a unique opportunity to experience a long sea passage, travel abroad and meet thousands of like-minded young people on other vessels from around the world. Races are held every summer in European waters. Each year the event plays host to between 80 and 100+ vessels from up to 30 countries, crewed by some 6-8,000 trainees from up to 50 countries, 3-4 million visitors and 300-400 media representatives in the four host ports. The young people take part in this unique event that combines four days of activities in each port with racing or cruising-in-company between ports. During the race series the young crews get the chance to gain experience by sailing with their contemporaries from other countries while facing the physical and emotional challenges that only the ocean can provide.
Sounds like this could be an expensive hobby and not oen to all young people but it is not. Wisbech Scouts received £1,000 sponsorship for the experience from Norfolk Boats who want to offer ocean sailing experiences to as many young people as possible.
For Philip Taylor, aged 18, this was a fantastic adventure:
"If had to pick one thing it would be sitting on the front of the boat as we were finding our place to moor up in Klaipeda, Lithuania and the people lining the bank, clapping and cheering for us. It was a fantastic welcome and it gave me a great sense of achievement. The greatest challenge for me was navigating past all the tiny islands and privately owned boats between Turku and anchorage near the start of the race in Noto, Finland.
I am most proud of is how well we worked as a team and how well we did in the race, the Skipper said that it was the best the boat had ever done in a Tall Ship Race, which meant we were doing something good to get those positions. I have improved my sailing technique, learning how to tell when the sails need adjusting, how to tack and change sails efficiently.
Above all the Tall Ships experience has taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to. "
For James Nott, aged 17, an experience not to be missed:
"I most enjoyed the different experiences we had in port either side of the race! The sailing was great because of the beautiful weather and perfect wind conditions! The greatest challenge for me was staying optimistic even when things weren't going right, for example when the wind died. I did well to keep my optimism all through the race!
I learnt quite a bit; what different buoys and lights mean, how to recognise a ship at night and what the different types of rigs are called on the big square riggers"
Overall I'm most proud of how we performed as a team and how well we did in general during the race."
And James Geddis, aged 16 wants to join the race again next year:
"I truly enjoyed this years Tall Ships Race and will undoubtedly take part again next year , The most enjoyable aspect was the sailing , the reason for this is that the weather was good and as the Baltic Sea is only partially tidal , it is a great deal calmer than the North Sea.
For me the greatest challenge was overcoming my fear of steering the boat during the hours of darkness , helped by perfect conditions and the limited hours of darkness in the Baltic.
The achievement I am most proud of is our placing in this years races , beaten only by extremely expensive , built for purpose racing yachts and with a massive handicap because they are a fraction of the weight of our boat, also our use of sails and perfectly timed direction changes , coupled with our high wind speed to boat speed ratios lead to a very satisfying final position.
I learnt a huge amount about the countries I visited and lots about sailing. I am looking forward to next year , where I hope to gain my RYA Competent Crew Qualification."