Sail Training International Youth (STIY)

Biographies of the members of STI Youth Council are listed below.

Rebecca Kuehn
is studying medicine at the University of New South Wales. She took part in the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme in 2006 in an 11 day voyage from Brisbane to Sydney. The following year she received an Australian Sail Training Association (AUSTA) Youth Exchange Scholarship between Australia and the United Kingdom, and sailed for three weeks on-board the STS Lord Nelson from Las Palmas to Southampton as part of a mixed ability crew with the Jubilee Sailing Trust. She also completed the Jubilee Sailing Trust's Leadership At Sea Programme in 2007. Since then she participated in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on-board Young Endeavour in 2008, and sailed as a Watchleader onboard the Spirit of New Zealand in 2010. Rebecca is currently working on developing an Alumni youth sail training group within Australia.



Anousch Vallaeys is 19 years old and has lived her whole life in Antwerp, Belgium. She learned to sail with dinghies when she was 9 years old. Since 2011, she is instructor in the same sailing school. The first time she attended the  Tall Ships Races was in 2010 with T/S Rupel. Since then, she is addicted and she will never quit. In 2013, she sailed a month with the Dar Mlodziezy with her school and in the same year she expanded her experience as a mentor on Tall Ship Gulden Leeuw and as volunteer on Morgenster. She will participate on next Tall Ships Races with other ships. ‘The more ships, the better’  is her slogan! She is currently studying in her second year of Nautical Sciences at the Antwerp Maritime Academy and she has the dream of sailing the 7 seas her whole life. Since September 2013, she is now youth representative for Belgium and active in STAB. 

LaKai Dill
spent four years in Mexico completing a Licenciatura (equivalent to a B.A.) in International Relations at Fundación Universidad de las Américas, Puebla. Post graduation, she moved to Cape Coast, Ghana for six months to volunteer as a Human Rights Intern with the Commission on Human Rights & Administrative Justice. In 2009, she returned home and worked for the Ombudsman for Bermuda, desiring to learn about alternative dispute resolution. She joined Bermuda Sloop Foundation in September 2010 as a Watch Leader, with no sailing experience.  Currently serving as the Education & Programmes Manager, she is very pleased to have been appointed by Sail Training Association of Bermuda as a delegate to the STI Youth Council for a two-year term.



Christine Chesterman first learned to sail when she was 17 as a trainee on the brigantine Fair Jeanne. She has been hooked ever since by the tall ship way of life and the incredible impact sail training can have on youth. She studied physical geography in university, spending summers sailing as a watch leader on Fair Jeanne, and more recently as captain of her sister ship, Black Jack. These experiences showed her that there is no job more awesome than working on a boat full of kids. Through the James Myatt Trust, Christine was able to participate in the STI races in 2011 aboard the John Laing and Sørlandet, loving how truly international the tall ship community was. After a car crash prevented her from sailing for a time, she realized what wanted most was to stick with sail training in every way possible.


Czech Republic

Tomáš Hollein is a 24 year old student from the Recreology Department at Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic. He finished his Bachelor degree of Sport Management and is now in the process of obtaining his Masters degree. He had also been studying at the Istanbul University for six months as an Erasmus student. After this experience he started to work for the Erasmus student network as a Treasurer of the National Board.  His first sailing experience was in Croatia in 2009. He participated in the Mediterranean Tall Ships Races as a trainee on board Gulden Leeuw. He also sailed and raced in the Brandarisrace, Holland. He works with Michael Kalman who is his teacher and also the NSTO manager for Czech Republic. They are planning a University Tall Ships Race for Summer 2014.  They are also promoting sail training throughout the Czech Republic.


Andreas Fink Mejlgaard
has been sailing regularly since the spring of 2008, when at the age of 13 he made his first journey on the Jens Krogh.  He has a great interest of sailing both as a hobby and as a living.  He is studying seafaring in Frederikshavn, Denmark, with the desire to become an engineer.  Onboard Jens Krogh he acts as a watch leader, and is about to gain a certificate for sailing as an engineer on engines with limited size.  He attended the Tall Ships Races for the first time in 2010 when his home port Aalborg hosted the race, and he finally reached the required age of 15.


Linda Marie Ormus
started sailing from a very young age on board her family yacht. For the first time she participated in The Tall Ships Races in 2006 and since 2009 she has been regularly sailing The Tall Ships Races as the mate and chief mate on board sail training yacht St. Iv. Linda Marie is an active sail trainer working with youth at sea and motivational speaker introducing sail training opportunities to young audience. Currently Linda Marie is finishing her Master’s degree in cultural and social anthropology in Tallinn University. Her Master’s thesis as well as her Bachelor’s thesis are about sail training and sail trainers. She is the founding member of Sail Training Association Estonia, a member of the Collegial Body of Estonian Institute of Humanities and also works as the board member on the Student Union. She is a qualified skipper and sees her future tightly connected with sail training and the sea.

Finland - Anni Peljo

Anni Peljo has been closely knit to the sea since the infancy due to the family´s cabin on an island in the outer archipelago of the Gulf of Bothnia. There she learned the basics of sailing with dinghies and explored the surroundings with a small family boat.  She followed her brother into the Tall ship´s world in the age of 13, sailing the first summers onboard the Finnish Sail Training vessels, above all the Schooner Helena. She participated her first Tall Ship´s races  in 2006 - - a three-week journey onboard  Bark Europa, and has returned onboard a tall ship ever since when having free from the everyday duties on land. Her role onboard is normally something between a mentor, watch leader and even a cook. She is studying architecture in Helsinki, and has been a board member in Finnish sail training alumni organization, Snupu, since 2008. 

Martin Blouet is 27 years old and works as an engineer  for an  aerospace company in the UK. He doesn't know what it's like to spend a summer without sailing. He got the chance to grow up by the sea and to have parents who made him sail ever since. After years of cruises and races on yacht and dinghy, Martin, always looking at new horizons, discovered Sail Training International and the Tall Ships Races. After a first trip on board  Morgenster in 2008, his life change forever. He got addicted and went back several times on Morgenster (2009, 2011, 2013) as trainee and volunteer crew and also sailed on board of Thalassa (2009) and Tenacious (2013).  Martin also sailed around the Atlantic (2012/2013) on board the Tres Hombres, the only sailing engineless cargoship in the world. Martin thinks it would be selfish to not spread the word about Sail Training International. Active in the French Sail Training Association he is the French representative in the Youth Council since September 2014.

Eva Costard is a 22-year-old student at the University of Witten/Herdecke studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics. She first started sailing on yachts in Sweden when she was little, but paused until 2011 when she first joined the barque Alexander von Humboldt for The Tall Ships Races for four weeks (Lerwick – Halmstad – Stavanger) and again in 2012 (Lisbon – Cadiz – La Coruna). She is a deckhand now and is sailing other Sail Training ships as well like the schooner yacht Esprit. Eva also assists the youth representatives of the Sail Training Association Germany. In August 2013 she will join an international youth exchange as mentor onboard the barquentine Thalassa in cooperation with the organization At Sea Sail Training.

Balint Veer is a university student currently studying at the International Business School of Budapest majoring in business and diplomacy. Having lived around the world for most of his life, he has had one standing hobby, sailing, which he first started at age 10. Having participated on his first Tall Ships Races in 2013 aboard the Gulden Leeuw, he has been active in the sailing community - recently achieving a board member position at Sail and Life Training Hungary. 

Currently he is in charge of promotion and recognition of sail training in Hungary and is excitedly looking forward to the challenges of the Youth Council.

Aoife Ledwidge-O'Brien
is a final year chemical engineering student at University College Dublin. She started sailing in 2010 on Lord Nelson. Following this she was recommended for the position of Bosun's Mate and has since sailed many more times on both Lord Nelson & Tenacious. Aoife has taken part in the 2011, 2012 & 2014 Tall Ships Races. She also sailed as watch leader for an Irish Youth Exchange in 2012 on the Pelican of London. Aoife has decided that since she is finding herself chipping, sanding and painting parts of ships she already has before - that now is the time to add something new and the Youth Council is perfect for that! Her future work will include bringing Irish sailors old & new together as part of an alumni group while assisting with the Belfast Tall Ships Festival 2015.


Reinis Gedzuns
is 23 years old and comes from Riga, Latvia. He studied Geography at the University of Latvia. Sailing has been his family's passion for quite some time. He started active sailing when he was 16, since then he spent most summers on the waters. Since 2009 he has been part of the S/Y Spaniel crew, of which he is very proud. In 2012 he received his yacht captain certificate and for the last two years he has been a captain on the Spaniel. He joined the STI Youth Council in 2012.


Michelle Rutten finished her Bachelor of Health studying Speech and Language Therapy, earlier this summer. With the start of this study in 2009/2010, she also started sailing onboard the Clipper Stad Amsterdam - and a new passion started! She started working with Sail Training Association Netherlands (STAN) a year later, in 2011. With the help of STAN, she organised international exchanges onboard the topsail schooner Wylde Swan in 2011 and 2013. Michelle also sailed on Lord Nelson during an exchange in 2012. Onboard Lord Nelson was (and there still is!) a mixed ability crew - this inspired her to do her final internship in a rehabilitation centre in Ghent (Belgium). Although she loves the profession Speech and Language Therapy, she decided to give sailing a professional turn. Michelle recently started with Maritime School in Enkhuizen (Netherlands), in order to be able to (maybe?) become a captain one day.


New Zealand

Peter Renshaw was born in the UK and moved to New Zealand aged 13. Since then he has been heavily involved in sailing and sail training, receiving his Boat master certificate at age 14. His association with the Spirit of Adventure Trust and its ship the Spirit of New Zealand began with a trainee voyage, followed by voyages as a volunteer crew member. At 17 he became a cadet for 15 months, which led to a permanent mate position. Over the next eight years he rose to First Mate, a position he has held for the past two years. Peter has a New Zealand Offshore Masters STCW 95 Unlimited and a British Square Rig Masters Endorsement, and has completed several ocean passages on yachts. Although an obvious tall ship enthusiast, his driving passion is youth development. In his spare time Peter enjoys rock climbing, scuba diving and sailing with friends.



Ingrid Elizabeth Haraldseid grew up in a family closely connected to the tall ships eventsin her hometown of Stavanger.  She has been fascinated by the Tall Ships and sailing since she was allowed to climb aloft for the first time aged only ten years old on the Christian Radich.  Ingrid has been a scout since the age of six, both in the sea scouts and now in a scout mountain rescue group where she practices outdoor life, including ski instructing.  Her first Tall Ships race was in 2010 and she has now sailed with all the three Norwegian vessels during less than 12 months and also seen it from the quay side in numerous cities and countries since 1997.  Ingrid's aim now is to gather enough former trainees from The Tall Ships Races in Norway to establish an alumni group.



Magda Makowska joined The Tall Ships Races in 2008 as a captain of Gedania and became the youngest captain of the fleet. One year later, during The Tall Ships Races 2009 together with her crew of Sharki, she won the Friendship Trophy. Thanks to her continually participation in STI events and her commitment to sail training ideas she was awarded the Sail Trainer of the Year 2010 and has been chosen to represent Poland in the STI Youth Council. Except sail training, Magda is a sail racer and a marketing professional. She has worked for the Yacht Club of Poland, Extreme Sailing Series and many other sailing projects.

Marta Martins
, who started sailing on the summer of 2012, has her heart divided between her passions.  She is studying to be a verinarian, but she also loves sailing and sail training. Her first sailing experience was onboard Caravela Vera Cruz, during the Tall Ships Races 2012, and she was so fond of it that she couldn't stop herself from craving for more adventure! During the year that followed, she joined Aporvela on their trips onboard of the Caravela Vera Cruz, she sailed on the NTM Creoula and she started sailing on Laser. She is now developing several projects for portuguese youth at Aporvela and she is excited to continue learning and embracing new trips and adventures!

South Africa
Linsay Ferguson is 23 years old and lives in Cape Town, South Africa. She comes from a background of sailors, her mother and grandfather whom both taught her to sail at the age of four. She has studied two courses one at Varsity College to obtain a diploma in Business Administration and Finance, and a second course in Personal Fitness Training at ETS. She works as an Administrative Manager at a company called Izivunguvungu MSC Foundation for Youth which is a development programme for students from a previously disadvantaged background. She also is a sailing coach at the school when required on a weekly basis. Moreover, Linsay runs a full sailing programme at the local yacht club called False Bay Yacht Club. She has sailed on many various different types of boats and went on to sail many regattas with successful results.

Anna Larsson
grew up in Stockholm and first set her foot on the ketch Shamrock at the age of 14. Since then she has been sailing several tall ships, spent many winters with ship´s maintenance and has been involved in several sail training related organizations. She was one of the founding members of the Swedish sail training alumni association where she is still active. At the moment she is studying Liberal Arts in Maastricht.


United Kingdom
Robbie Crow began sailing back in 2005 onboard the sail training vessel Alba Venturer, operated by Ocean Youth Trust Scotland. He has participated in the trust’s Young Leader Development Program and has went from sailing as a trainee to sailing as a watch-leader onboard all 3 of the trust’s vessels.
Robbie also sits on the Board of Directors for OYT Scotland. Aside from sailing extensively in the west of Scotland, he has also circumnavigated Ireland, sailed in Canada and participated in the 2012 Tall Ships Races. Robbie is currently (November 2012) about to complete his Honors degree in Marketing at the University of Stirling, and his thesis will be centered around the Marketing of Sail Training. Robbie is a well-known face in UK Sail Training and is therefore perfectly placed to represent the young people of sail training in the United Kingdom.

United States of America
Brian Holmen
is currently studying business at the University of Utah to get a degree in Business Administration. Having grown up in Park City, Utah was a little difficult to go sailing, but he was able to make it out to Los Angeles every summer to go sailing on the brigantine Irving Johnson. In the summer of 2008 he got the opportunity to sail aboard the United States Coast Guard Cutter, the “Eagle” from Los Angeles to San Diego as part of Pacific Coast Tall Ship Challenge. In 2010 he sailed on the Europa from Sault Ste. Marie to Duluth as part of the Great Lakes Tall Ship Challenge. He looks forward to continuing his involvement with the Tall Ships Challenges in the United States and Europe.