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Sue Geary

Skipper and Youth Development and Outdoor Learning Lead (Offshore)

Offshore crew, Onshore crew

Please tell us a bit about yourself

I’m an escaped primary school teacher and started sailing in my early thirties. Having realised that I had been at school for 30 years (since I was four), I took a belated gap year and ran away to sea, ending up working as a cook and hostess on a Swan 51 charter yacht in the Caribbean. When I came back I heard that TSYT had bought four Challenge 72 yachts and were looking for volunteer cooks. I did my first voyage in February 2008 and was hooked. I passed my TSYT Skipper assessment after the Fastnet Race in 2011 (cook to Skipper in three and a half years!) and, in 2014, I gave up teaching to become a freelance skipper with TSYT. In March 2023 I was taken on in a dual onshore/offshore role as Skipper and Youth Development and Outdoor Learning Lead (Offshore) to develop TSYT’s three-voyage programme on the water. I don’t have very much spare time, but yoga, walking, reading and sleeping feature quite highly when I do. I still love cooking, but sadly I don’t get to do it so much on boats anymore.

Please tell us a bit about your role at Tall Ships Youth Trust

The role of a Youth Development Skipper is a very diverse one. You might find me making hot chocolate for 12 year olds and tucking them into their sleeping bags on the foredeck to look at the stars, or teaching a race crew how to get maximum speed out of their sail trim. No two trips are alike, no two groups are alike and it’s never, ever boring. At the Portsmouth Hub, I’m to be found working on voyage plans, youth development activities, staff training, producing resources and generally doing my best to make what we do on the water with young people as fantastic (dare I say empowering?!) as it can be.

What has been your most memorable moment at Tall Ships Youth Trust?

All voyages have memorable moments – judging a bake off between three 13 year old boys from a Pupil Referral Unit and trying to eat cake with no hands, crossing the ARC  finish line in Rodney Bay, St Lucia, after skippering my first transatlantic, watching dolphins play in the phosphorescence in the bow wave in the final stages of the Fastnet Race when everybody was knackered and a bit down, seeing someone who first sailed with us as a 14 year old trainee now succeeding in a very prestigious job in the sailing industry…shall I go on?

What is one thing you think people should know about Tall Ships Youth Trust?

It’s a family. Once you voyage with us, you’re part of a community that works together, supports each other and laughs together.

Please describe your job in three words




If you were famous, what would you be famous for?

Being the benign dictator of the non-democratic Geary republic and getting the world properly organised! My Indonesian-style beef curry is pretty famous, too.

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