At 22 year’s old Alesya Kasyanova, one of the trainees aboard the Russian vessel Akela
, may be young, but she probably has more sailing experience on sail training vessels than many twice her age.
Having raced six times in tall ships races aboard Akela, and sailed thousands of miles including a two-week passage from St Petersburg to St Malo for the 2006 Anniversary Race, Kasyanova (pictured right) feels completely at home on board. She is a capable sailor and will doubtless become a Watch Leader in the near future. According to others on board she can turn her hand to most tasks including helming but one of her biggest talents is communication and teaching.
A student of the University of St Petersburg and graduating this year, Kasyanova tells us she’s studying water communication, which includes culture and tourism. After five years she’s now ready to move on and her dream is to use her knowledge to work in the tour guide, cultural sector specialising in sailing. “Ideally I’d like to get a job working on a yacht as a guide or crew, maybe to promote Russian culture. Some of these jobs pay well and are only six-month terms, which really appeals to me. I also love travelling so that would be good too. It’s my dream.”
Before then however, Kasyanova is concentrating on the job in hand, as trainee and teacher aboard the 13-metre racing yacht Akela. This yacht, which is one of a fleet of 10 owned by St-Petersburg Institute of Water Transport and used by the university students, is now 14 years old. She is the newest of the fleet and is now the only one that competes in the tall ship races. After thousands of miles of use she is, however, looking a little tired and when she returns to St Petersburg, will undergo maintenance.
Kasyanova commenting on the trainee aspect says sail training is a valuable experience that young people should be encouraged to take part in: “Apart from learning a lot, and gaining huge experience, you make many lifetime friends. I am lucky in that I am sailing with some of my fellow students from the university and some of the Russian Mir cadets but I know that youngsters who turn up at these regattas alone have no option other than integrate and almost instantly become part of a team. STI events are such fun on and off the water, and I am really looking forward to this race, particularly sailing through Istanbul.”