Alumna Lois Baker (2012) shares her story of tall ship racing last summer from Portugal to Bermuda.
Last summer, I took part in the Transatlantic Tall Ships Race sailing from Portugal to Bermuda on the sail training yacht ‘Rona II’, with the Rona Sailing Project (RSP). On board we were 22, of which 19 of us were female. We lived and worked together on the 21m yacht for 5 weeks - with the longest period at sea 19 days. Daily activities included keeping watch, navigating, cooking, cleaning, and maintenance interspersed with a few hours of sleep!
I have volunteered with the RSP for 6 years, after initially sailing as a trainee. The charity’s main focus is week-long youth-development training voyages for 14 to 19 year olds, helping build confidence, responsibility and teamwork skills. Trainees who have ‘given of their best’ have the opportunity to participate in the annual Tall Ships Races.
The Project relies on over 300 volunteers who sail as Skippers, Mates, Watch Officers and Watch Leaders, depending on their level of experience. I currently sail as a Watch Officer, and am looking forward to gaining the necessary qualifications to progress to Mate.
The trip was an incredible experience with tough sailing and plenty of setbacks, but beautiful weather. We worked a 4 hour on/ 4 hour off watch system throughout day and night, which can get very tiring. The most challenging aspect was staying staying completely alert and trimming sails during long night watches, but highlights included incredible sunsets, plenty of dolphins, and swimming in the middle of the Atlantic!