Twenty young trainees have been selected for the “once in a lifetime experience” of taking part in the Tall Ships Races 2022.
Sail Training Shetland announced the successful applicants today (Sunday) as the first group set sail on board the Swan to make the start of the race.
The charity said it had been “overwhelmed by applications for these inspiring, action-packed voyages at sea”.
It comes as excitement builds ahead of the Tall Ships 2023, for which Lerwick is to be a host port.
The chosen trainees will have the chance to create international friendships and take part in large host festivals as part of this year’s races, which are held from 7th July-7th August.
Half of the trainees boarded the Swan at Lerwick today to sail across to start the race in Esbjerg, Denmark, on Thursday.
From there, the fleet will race to Harlingen in Holland and take part in host port festivities.
The second group will join the Swan for a “cruise in company” leg between Harlingen and Antwerp, Belgium, before heading back to the UK in a feeder race to Lowestoft, for the Excelsior Trust’s Centenary Smack Race celebrations.
Sail Training Shetland said that despite the challenges of travel post-Covid, it was delighted to support these “incredible adventures”.
It said these were especially important following the challenges of the past two years, which have been particularly hard on young people.
Chairman Peter Campbell said: “Since 2009, Sail Training Shetland has provided invaluable sailing experiences to young people.
“As excitement builds ahead of the Tall Ships Races 2023, we are delighted to facilitate more fantastic opportunities this year helped by generous sponsorship and fundraising activities.
“An enthusiastic group of young people are about to set off across the North Sea to participate in the renowned Tall Ships festival celebrating crewman-ship and a sense of adventure.
“We are confident that their time on board will be very positive and look forward to learning of their sailing stories and race highlights when they return.”
Maggie Adamson, who has taken part in many Tall Ships Races and will be the Swan’s skipper for the first this year, said she was looking forward to leading the crew.
“To see the trainees come aboard a little unsure, not really knowing anybody or what to expect, and then grow in confidence both in their own ability and gelling as a crew is so rewarding for everyone aboard,” she said.
“We are delighted to be working with Sail Training Shetland again this year, to provide these life changing voyages, as well as the taster days earlier in the year.
“The calibre of applicants was very high, which made it hard to select just 20 trainees but also bodes well for next year, when the races return to Shetland.
“We can’t wait to celebrate Shetland’s maritime heritage in 2023 with these voyages in 2022 starting the incredible year we have ahead of us.”