Simon Le Bon, frontman of iconic British band Duran Duran, is setting sail with the Tall Ships Youth Trust to celebrate the end of their Round UK Sailing Challenge. The pop star will step on board the 72ft Challenger yacht in Cowes and sail across the Solent with a group of young people aged 12 – 15 from Tower Hamlets in inner city London. The yacht will have just finished the final leg of its Round UK Challenge which was part-funded by a crowdfunding campaign which was supported by Simon Le Bon.

The project sees 6 groups of 10 young people, from all walks of life, each taking part in one leg of a relay-style voyage around the UK. The young people, aged 12 – 25, have been responsible for everything on board, from cooking and cleaning to steering and learning to read charts.

The locations and teams for the journey legs are as follows:

  • Portsmouth to Brixham crewed by young carers from Torbay and the organisation Young Devon
  • Brixham to Liverpool crewed by young people from the Hive, Wirral Youth Zone in Birkenhead
  • Liverpool to Greenock crewed by young people from the Temple Shafton Youth Project in Glasgow
  • Greenock to Newcastle crewed by young people selected by the Newcastle Social Services team
  • Newcastle to Ipswich crewed by students from Hull Trinity House School and Hull Schools sponsored by North Atlantic (Holdings) Ltd
  • Ipswich to Portsmouth crewed by students from Stepney Green Maths, Computing & Science College and George Green's School based in inner-city London

Working together, the young people are responsible for all aspects of sailing, from cooking and cleaning to setting the sails and taking the helm of the ocean-going racing yacht. Whilst on board they are assigned to watches (teams) working in shifts to complete duties through the day and night. 

This is a unique physically and mentally challenging experience at sea which develops the youngsters’ long-term life skills including team working, confidence building and problem solving skills. 

The Trust has a well-established reputation for providing invaluable preparation for the challenges we all have in our lives, at work and as part of society. This is achieved by breaking the pattern of conventional behaviour and encouraging team participation and interaction under challenging and sometimes arduous conditions. Learning how to rely on others and be relied upon, how to lead and make decision are all skills fostered by the Tall Ships Experience. 

Simon Le Bon said: “I am delighted to join Challenger 4 for the final part of this exciting project. This is a fantastic charity which helps some of the UK’s most disadvantaged youngsters experience the joy and camaraderie of what it’s like to sail at sea, whilst also helping them with key life skills. I am so pleased my support during the crowdfunding challenge has helped enable the Trust to create the opportunity for individuals to undertake even more adventures, opening up valuable chances to learn life skills and set them on a good path in life.”

Richard Leaman-Grey, CEO at the Tall Ships Youth Trust said: “We’re incredibly grateful for Simon’s support with this project. We are delighted to have him on board and to have his high profile advocacy for the important work we do. 

Our voyages provide a safe but challenging environment in which our young people will transform the way they think and feel about themselves, at a critical time in their lives. With nearly 800,000 young people who are not in Education Employment and Training, we want to do more, and Simon’s help is invaluable in raising awareness of our work, and the funds necessary to do it”.