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Funded Clipper race places for young people

Photograph: David Stewart Howitt with the branded Clipper yacht at Gosport Marina. Reproduced with permission

 By Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas

THE application process is under way for a new scheme which offers young people fully funded sail training and the opportunity to take part in the Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race.

Gosport-based Clipper Ventures PLC had to stop its sailing activities when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March last year. Now, as well as launching this initiative – in conjunction with a new partner organisation – it is planning to bring crews back for training and to re-start the 2019-20 race.

Partnerships have been an important source of funding for the race organisers. However, the tie-up with Our Isles & Oceans Limited goes beyond the usual sponsorship of a boat.

Founder David Stewart Howitt explained: “In these challenging times, Our Isles and Oceans seeks to bring together the powerful forces of business and sport to offer an inspiring opportunity for the youth of today.”

He, and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston – the first person to sail solo, non-stop round the world, and co-founder of the Clipper race – are well aware of the damaging impact the pandemic lockdowns have had on young people.

But Sir Robin is convinced sailing offers a way of supporting those affected because it is, “so much more than just a sport or pastime as it gives you experience that is as useful in the workplace as it is on board a yacht. The sport develops self-confidence and self-esteem which is so important to restore following the pandemic.”

The first part of the Our Isles and Oceans initiative is the offer of 50 places for people aged between 18 and 35 on a fully funded sail training course off the West Coast of Scotland this summer.

They will be on board a 68-foot Clipper yacht and under the guidance of a Clipper Race Training Skipper.

Applicants do not have to have any experience of sailing and all sailing equipment and clothing will be provided. Further information including the application process can be accessed.

  ‘You’ll often find young people

are judged too early’ 

There will then be the opportunity for 10 of those completing the course to apply for four weeks of intensive ocean racing training at the Clipper base in Gosport. If successful, they would receive a funded place on board the 70-foot Our Isles and Oceans team entry for one leg of the Clipper 2023-24 Race.

For Sir Robin: “Problem solving is key to sail training, as is leadership and teamwork. You’ll often find young people are judged too early. Putting them on a yacht, with a team, is a great equaliser. You’ll see things are picked up quickly and as each challenge is overcome, confidence grows, with a new belief in themselves that they can achieve anything.”

His Clipper Ventures also has a race to complete.

The 2019-20 circumnavigation of the world was suspended due to the pandemic. The boats were tied up at Subic Bay in the Philippines and the crews dispersed to their homes across the world.

According to Clipper Ventures, the company had kept in contact with the participants over the last 15 months and was now gearing up to get the race under way again from Subic Bay in February 2022 with an expected finish in August.

To achieve that, the crews will start coming back to Gosport for training beginning in two months. That will also see training begin for those who wish to take part in the 2023-24 race – the application process for which is now open.