A Cheltenham student has been awarded funding to train for a career working on luxury superyachts.

Annabel Fairlie, 20 is currently on phase one of UKSA’s Superyacht Cadetship.

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Annabel began her training in October after being selected for a coveted bursary by Trinity House. As a real alternative to university, the course combines study sessions and sea phase training at UKSA, with work as deckhands on superyachts. The course also includes a Foundation Degree in Operational Yacht Science delivered in conjunction with Falmouth Marine School and validated by the University of Plymouth. While working, students can typically earn €2,000 a month tax free (not including tips), and while once onboard a vessel almost all their living costs are covered by the yacht too. If sensible, students can graduate debt free and sail into a lucrative career.

The 20-year-old from Cheltenham said: “I’ve always wanted an active career based on sailing, the ocean, or travel. My family have done yacht charter holidays and I started getting really interested in a sailing related career. I found out about working on superyachts and while I was in Italy I saw a few and my mind was made up, I think they are incredible. I knew the UKSA cadetship was for me but I couldn’t afford it so I started to plan how I could work to save up for it and fund myself. So I was absolutely over the moon to be granted funding by Trinity House and it made my worries go away. Having the name of Trinity House behind me is really important to me. I’m having the best time ever and I feel like I am learning so much. I started off by doing a lot of classroom work and I am really excited to be going out on my sea phases to put everything I have learnt into practice. My ultimate goal is to be a captain. It’s going to take a long time but that’s what I’m aiming for.”

UKSA Cadetship Manager, Emma Baggett, explained: “With expensive tuition fees and graduate unemployment rates, vocational training has definitely become the new university – and ours is particularly in demand because of these bursaries on offer.

“With the help of our bursaries, aspiring young officers can now take the first step into this unique career path. We currently have some 140 cadets at various stages of their training working in the industry and it’s our global relationships with crew agents and captains themselves that make the cadetship so successful. This support, which carries on throughout their careers, is unique to UKSA.”

The cadetship is a viable option for those considering vocational training over the traditional university career path. With the Foundation Degree recently being granted full-time status it can now be applied for through UCAS, plus successful 2014 cadets will be able to drawn down on student loans to assist them – as well as taking advantage of all the other associated benefits that full-time students enjoy.

There is funding available for the October 2015 intake. Applicants should be 18-25 years old and will have to go through a selection process. Priority is given to those who display a clear welfare need and/or have a proven family connection to the maritime industry. Students should have obtained at least 120 UCAS points (or the equivalent in work experience) and have high grade passes in GCSE Maths and English. They must be seeking a genuine alternative to university and also demonstrate a keen desire for a long term career in the superyacht industry – and whilst previous water sports and/or yachting experience is highly desirable, it is not essential. For those not accepted onto their chosen bursary, there is the option of a Career Development Loan worth up to £10,000 – and the rest contributed by the student.