sailing largeFour Sunderland Sail Training Ambassadors have just returned from a memorable two week voyage on-board the sailing ship ‘STS Lord Nelson’ operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST)

As part of the upcoming Tall Ships Races in 2018 the Sunderland Sail Training Ambassador Programme is an ambitious initiative designed to encourage communities to embrace sail training. Over 20 young people from across the region have been nominated to take part in the programme which was launched by HRH the Princess Royal in May.

Setting sail from Greenwich (London) Brandon Barker, Andrew Cowe, David Wade and Chris Finley had a fabulous time navigating the Southern English coastline. They then continued their odyssey sailing to Isles of Scilly, up the West coast of England, rounding the top of Ireland and passing the Isle of Arran before docking in Greenock on the river Clyde

Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “Sail training uses the experience of being at sea as a means to help people learn about themselves. It gives participants the opportunity to discover hidden strengths and talents and understand the value of working as a team.”

Supported by local businesses and organisations the Sail Training Ambassadors will enjoy a challenging but enjoyable two-year programme of sail training, nautical and cultural activities including tall ship voyages. They will also have a confirmed place on the first leg of The Tall Ships Races 2018. The first race is from Sunderland (which is to be the start host port for the 2018 race series) to Esbjerg in Denmark.

Cllr Kelly continued “These four adventurous souls took the opportunity to do something they had never done before and never thought they would have the opportunity to do. There are still opportunities for local businesses to sponsor an Ambassador and I would encourage them to be part of this fantastic project.”

Project Director for Tall Ships Sunderland 2018, Ian Flannery, said:” Participants are required to confront demanding challenges, both physical and emotional. Generally those who take part find it a positive life-changing experience and something that gives them a great advantage going forward.

“Each supported ambassador will represent their sponsor at selected events as well as feeding back their adventures via social media.”

STS Lord Nelson and her sister ship SV Tenacious are pioneers in the world of tall ships. They are the only two vessels which have been designed and purpose-built to allow people of all physical abilities to sail side-by-side on equal terms.

Sunderland Sail Training Ambassador Andrew Cowe said: “The crew on ‘Nellie’ as everyone called her gave everyone the chance to do as much as they could. Every aspect of sailing this fantastic ship was made available, from setting the sails and going up the mast to taking watch and steering her. We had a great time and I hope as many people as possible take the opportunities for adventure that the Tall Ships Races will bring.”

For further information about opportunities to sponsor an Ambassador please contact Ian Flannery 0191 561 1397. To receive updates on the project follow the team on Twitter @TallShipsSund or on Facebook at TallShipsRacesSunderland