Pictured: Trainee David Murray
With less than nine months to go to Waterford’s hosting of The Tall Ships Races 2011 - presented by Szczecin and organised by Sail Training International – three Irish young people who were on board Tall Ships as trainees this year have given the experience a huge ‘thumbs up’ and encouraged others to sign up for next year.
Dozens of Irish youths aged 16-25 will sail from Waterford to Greenock, Scotland in early July in the first race in The Tall Ships Races 2011.
Gavin Roche, 19, from Cork Road, Waterford, spent 11 days in the summer on board Dutch sail training vessel Eendracht
, including a five-day sail from Kristiansand, Norway to Hartlepool, England.
While his only previous experience on water was travelling by car ferry to the UK, Gavin took the view that he “might as well go for it – see what it’s like”. He found the experience hugely positive: “It was great. You get loads of responsibility and the professional crew are very trusting so we even got to steer a ship. Everyone was very welcoming from the first day we went on board in Norway and we were able to enjoy the festivities there and in Hartlepool where we walked in the Crew Parade which was good fun.
“During the sail from Kristiansand to Hartlepool, everyone got stuck in and we became good friends – I’m still in touch with some of the other trainees on Facebook now. We saw dolphins, whales and North Sea oilfields during the journey. We quickly got used to life at sea! I’d really recommend the experience and I’m already planning how I can go again in 2011.”
Aoife Ledwidge O’Brien, an 18-year-old UCD engineering student from Bray, Co Wicklow, sailed for 10 days this year on board Lord Nelson
from Milford Haven, Wales to Whitehaven, England via Waterford. “Sailing with Lord Nelson was the first time I’d ever sailed and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever done. From working away in the engine room to climbing the masts; from mess duty in the kitchens to helming; from dolphin-watching to the plentiful food and from exploring ports to tying up and bracing sails, it was tremendous – even the 12midnight-4am watches! It really is very special to me and I can’t wait to be on the deck, up the masts or in the engine rooms again.
“I’m going to be going back – I know that and don’t think I could stop myself if I tried. There is maintenance scheduled in Southampton during October and I am going over for a couple of days to help whatever way I can. I really, really hope I can race next year. I’m lucky I discovered it at 18. An extra dimension with Lord Nelson
is that it’s fully accessible for people with disabilities. We had a wheelchair user, Nat, on our watch and it was amazing just how accessible the ship was to her and she even went up the masts.”
David Murray, a business information systems student at UCC and originally from Butlerstown, Waterford, is fast becoming a sail training veteran having first sailed in June 2009 on Tenacious
from Waterford to Dublin and Kinsale. Also last year, he sailed on Lord Nelson
with his brother Paul around the north coast of Scotland.
In the current year, David, 20, sailed as bosun’s mate on Lord Nelson
from Southampton to Glasgow and on Eendracht
from Kristiansand to Hartlepool. At Hartlepool, he joined Tenacious
as bosun’s mate to sail from Hartlepool to London via Bruges, Belgium. Days later, he rejoined Lord Nelson
– again as bosun’s mate - to sail from Falmouth, England to Waterford via Milford Haven, Wales.
Speaking about the experiences which he hopes to build on further in 2011 when The Tall Ships Races commence in his native Waterford, David said: “It’s been a very busy but great couple of summers with Tall Ships and I’m really looking forward to next year – especially with Waterford again hosting the fleet and crews from around the world. I strongly recommend sail training to anyone who gets the opportunity and the fact that the races start from Waterford next summer makes it even easier to get involved. Sail training is for everyone and I’ve met a great mix of people on the different ships I’ve been on. It’s been a brilliant experience.”
When they leave Waterford after the spectacular Parade of Sail along the Suir Estuary on July 3, the Tall Ships will race around Ireland’s south, west and north coasts to Greenock, Scotland. Later, there will be a cruise-in-company from Greenock to Lerwick in the Shetland Isles. The second race in the series will then go from Lerwick to Stavanger, Norway from where the third and final race will bring the fleet to Halmstad, Sweden.
THE TALL SHIPS RACES 2011
are presented by Szczecin and organised by Sail Training International. Further information is available at www.waterfordtallshipsrace.ie
or by calling 051-849640.