Several young Islanders, some with little or no previous sailing experience, are now training for a career in the maritime industry after taking part in a yacht race.

Youth charity UKSA submitted a team of local young people for the Association of Sail Training (ASTO) Race in October, after working with them since February on a training and fundraising project.

They started recruiting in February, focusing on those who had little or no previous sailing experience. There were lots of land-based team building exercises to start with, including fundraising activities.

The participants took part in a litter pick which raised £100 from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and fundraised on Wightlink which raised £126. A bursary of £548 was also awarded to the group from ASTO.

The team started as a group of 12 and resulted in a fully committed team of seven, who stayed the distance to complete the race in October. They enjoyed five days of Sail Training before the big day, then managed to come a respectable second within their race, and first within their class, sailing on UKSA’s Albatross II.

As well as participating in the race, Aaron “Flash” Bradley completed his RYA Competent Crew and is now doing BTECs in Outdoor Industries at UKSA. Brendan Kearley, Alice Chambers, Arron King and Carl Rutherford got their RYA Start Yachting certificates. Many of the participants are now working towards or looking at maritime careers.

Alice said: “When I went sailing, I got to do various things on the boat including helming the boat, and operating the winches. I really enjoyed the experience, as before I took part I had never sailed before and had no interest in sailing, but I now definitely want to go sailing again.”

Brendan said: “Taking part in this year’s ASTO race was an inspirational experience. Having only a small amount of sailing experience myself I saw how the whole experience changed everyone involved, from the skipper to the least confident of us.

“It was a pleasure training and racing with this crew and should the chance arise I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again!”

The team are all keen to do the race again next year and are looking for more young non-sailors to join them. Anyone aged 14-19 can apply. There is no financial commitment, just a commitment of time.

To apply, email [email protected] or phone Lee on 01983 294941.