Tall Ships Youth Trust (TSYT), a nationwide youth development and outdoor learning charity dedicated to empowering young people through life-changing sailing opportunities has entered the prestigious Rolex Fastnet Race 2023 with three of its Challenger vessels.
TSYT’s owns four 72ft Challengers, which were all built in 2000 and are famous for having raced twice round the world, as part of the Global Challenge races.
For the race, Challenger 2 is being crewed by a group of enthusiastic fundraisers aiming to raise a total of £42k to give 12 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the race on board Challenger 4.
Challenger 4 Skipper, Sue Geary said: “Our youth crew would simply not have been able to participate in this prestigious race without the fundraising efforts of our adult crew. The young people have all previously voyaged with us and were recommended to return and train as a volunteer. Their first voyage with TSYT really opened their eyes to a newfound passion for sailing.
“For our first adult-sponsored youth Fastnet team, we needed to know that our young people would have the resilience necessary to take on this considerable challenge, and that they would embrace and make the most of this fantastic opportunity. The final youth crew was chosen following the completion of an intense Fastnet training and selection voyage in April.”
Challenger 3 sees a crew from First Class Sailing (FCS) take on the challenge as part of the adult crew.
This is the latest effort in TSYT’s and FCS’ long-term partnership to bring adventurous and exciting sailing voyages and races to amateur sailors across the UK.
FCS Principal, Charlie Tulloch, said: “We are excited to again be working with Tall Ships Youth Trust to offer our customers what will be our eighth Fastnet campaign with the charity, on a 72ft Challenger yacht.
“We have a particular affinity with TSYT as we understand the power of sail training. The work they do is hugely transformational to the lives of young people.”
The Rolex Fastnet Race is an iconic biennial offshore yacht race that draws sailors from around the world to navigate its demanding 695-nautical mile course, starting in Cowes, Isle of Wight, and finishing in the city of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin in France, via the Fastnet Rock off the coast of Ireland.
The race, which started from the Royal Yacht Squadron on Saturday 22 July is celebrating its 50th edition this year.
For TSYT, this prestigious event represents a unique chance to showcase its commitment to transforming the lives of young individuals through adventurous sailing experiences.
Alastair Floyd, TSYT CEO, who is participating in the race on board Challenger 4 with the youth crew, expressed his excitement about the forthcoming race, saying: “We are thrilled to be part of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2023 with not one, but three of our Challengers. Our participation in the race exemplifies our passion for empowering young people through the medium of sailing.
“Adventurous racing opportunities like this are a key part of our three-voyage programme, which was launched earlier this year and aims to support young people aged 12-25 on their journeys to adulthood.”
“We’re very grateful to our fundraising crew on board Challenger 2 and their commitment to support 12 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is the first time we’ve introduced this model of adult crew members fundraising to support our youth crew, who would otherwise be unable to take part in the race.”
Alastair adds: “They have been fantastic role models for our youth crew, sharing their life stories throughout the Fastnet training programme to inspire and motivate us all.”
“One of our aims as an organisation is to improve diversity amongst our crews, so we’re really proud to have four women leading our boats in this iconic race. Sue Geary as Skipper, Sophie Crocker as Mate, and Martha Kneebone and Iona Taylor as Watch Leaders.”
Challenger 2’s crew of dedicated fundraisers, aimed to raise a total of £42k on completion of the race. They have already exceeded the target. This ambitious fundraising endeavour has enabled 12 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate.
Among the crew on board Challenger 2 are 12-year-old Tom Marsh, 14-year-old Zoë d’Ornano and 18-year-old Chris Frederick.
In the previous edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race in 2021, Zoë d’Ornano participated for the first time with TSYT and became the youngest ever competitor in the race’s history. Chris Frederick first entered the race with his school in 2019, aged 14 and was one of the youngest participants at the time. This year, Tom Marsh (12) is the youngest entrant and all three of them are competing on board Challenger 2.
Racing alongside her parents in 2021, Zoë d’Ornano helmed a 16-strong, internationally formed crew from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the USA across the finish line. Zoë herself is a dual French and British national and is pleased to be participating in the proud offshore tradition of both countries.
As part of her efforts in the previous race, Zoë exceeded her £10,000 fundraising target, raising more than £10,700 to give 12 disadvantaged young people a life-changing voyage with TSYT.
Chris Frederick (18) is a student from Greig City Academy, a disadvantaged state school in Harringay, North London.
Chris has been sailing dinghies since year 7 and according to his teacher, “immediately excelled”. Sailing became part of his life, and as well as dinghy sailing, Chris has also worked to restore and upgrade numerous mini tonner yachts, the most well-known being Riot.
Chris has helped to deliver talks to raise funds for his school sailing project and became one of the youngest sailors to complete the Fastnet race in 2019 on board the school’s vessel, Scaramouche.
Mr Jon Holt, Head of Sixth Form and Outdoor Education at Grieg City Academy said: “Chris’ whole family and school community are immensely proud of him and are very grateful to Tall Ships Youth Trust for giving him this amazing opportunity.”
Tom Marsh, a Summer Fields School pupil enters the Rolex Fastnet Race for the first time this year, aged 12. Competing alongside his father, Tom will be documenting his experience by writing a newspaper article about the race.
He said: “I’ve been sailing ever since I can remember and I’m feeling excited to experience my first Fastnet Race. I’ll feel proud when I’ve completed it, and to have raised money to enable other young people to do the same.”
To find out more about the life-changing work of TSYT, visit: www.tallships.org