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The School’s annual sail training trip took place in April, with the team sailing out of the Hamble estuary for Old Harry Rock, anchoring for the first evening in Studland Bay.
Setting sail for Weymouth the next day, the group battled the tail end of a south Atlantic storm with swell and strong winds. The decision was taken to make for Sark in the Channel Islands. Sea conditions tested the pupils’ skills and resilience. But, they were up to the challenge.
A very hard overnight sail, the crew crossed the Channel shipping lanes in very testing conditions and manoeuvred the yacht to time their passage safely through. The team encountered force 7 and force 8 westerly winds with a 10-metre swell as they hammered south to the islands, arriving at 4.00am. A day anchored off Sark allowed them to recuperate and investigate island life.
Rested, the crew left for Guernsey that afternoon on a more relaxed voyage. On arrival in Guernsey, the BT World Challenger 4 racing yacht was in harbour and St John's pupils were invited to consider taking part in the 2015 event. They departed for Cherbourg and were invited by the Captain of the replica 17th-Century Russian frigate Standart for a look around, after which the pupils made full use of the local hypermarket to stock up on chocolate!
The team left Cherbourg the next morning for Gosport marina in gentle winds and arrived safely in the afternoon. St John's pupils used this opportunity to work through their competent crew requirements. After a good sleep and an early rise to clean the yacht, the crew set sail for the final destination on the Hamble. The six days flew by and the pupils had to dig very deep at times to cope with the challenges a large sailing yacht offers. Covering 293 nautical miles, the after-guard (Skipper, 1st Mate and Watch Officers) were highly complimentary of all St John’s pupils.
Joe Witt (North) was singled out for the Scott Award, a special prize awarded to crew members less than 16 years of age. The rest of the crew should also be commended for their positive and determined attitude.
Mr Mooney commented, ‘It was a pleasure to take them yacht sailing. My thanks also go to Mr Mortell for his support in this trip and we hope to run this yacht sail training trip again in 2015.’
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