Trainees set for races on Swan and Statsraad Lehmkuhl
A group of youngsters will soon take to the seas aboard historic sailing boats to compete in international races watched by millions online.
Sail Training Shetland has arranged for a total of 24 trainees to guide the Swan and the Statsraad Lehmkuhl through Tall Ships races.
The organisation’s chairman, Peter Campbell, said he was delighted to have recruited a “spirited” group from across the isles.
He added: “We’re confident that all of the young people participating will take away something positive from their experiences and will be great ambassadors for our community.”
On Sunday, ten trainees will sail for Sunderland where they will meet the rest of the Tall Ships fleet before taking part in a race to Esbjerg in Denmark.
Emma Sandison, 17, of Lerwick, is eagerly awaiting the start of the trip.
She said: “I’m really excited. I can’t wait – I’m a little bit nervous though, mostly for the seasickness.”
Another who will be taking part is 20-year-old Lori Smith from Weisdale.
The Robert Gordon University student said: “I’ve never done anything like it but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been off in boats before but never sailed on a sailing boat.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know everybody and it’s a totally new experience and I’m excited to learn all the different things.”
The rest of the trainees will leave Lerwick by ferry on 18th and 19th July, going on to fly to Esbjerg.
Ten will join the Swan and four will join the Norwegian three-masted barque the Statsraad Lehmkuhl and all will take part in the cruise-in-company leg to Stavanger,
Norway, from 21st July to around 26th July.
Leighton Anderson, 15, of Dunrossness, is excited to throw himself into a “completely new adventure” on board the Swan.
Asked what he was most looking forward to, he said: “Going out and seeing the world without the comforts of a cushy hotel and actually working hard to go and get a result.”
The trial sailing day proved to be a pivotal moment for the Anderson High School pupil.
“I said to myself if I didn’t enjoy the day out I was not going to go through with it but I really enjoyed the day out we had – we had really good weather for it.
“Everything was fine and everyone worked well as a team and that’s the main thing. Because there’s no point in arguing and not getting to where you need to go.”
The Swan skipper Thorben Reinhardt will be taking charge for his third season.
The German said the Tall Ships races are “great” events and provide trainees with positive experiences.
“It’s a great way of sailing on a Fifie… but also interacting with people from all over the world,” he said.
But Mr Reinhardt was also ready to outline some of the difficulties which his young charges will have to contend with.
He said: “Crossing the North Sea is a challenge in itself that can bring issues like seasickness. Luckily with youngsters they usually get over it within a day.
“And the other thing is obviously the close quarters that we need to live with – personal space and privacy is either limited or not existing on the vessel and we’ve got 15 people on board for two weeks at a time.”