ALMOST 200 young people from across the UK are taking part in an exciting nautical challenge.
The group was due to leave Dartmouth today in the inaugural Asto Dartmouth to Gosport Small Ships Race, a 160-nautical mile race which is due to finish in Gosport on Wednesday.
The young people will be sailing under the banner of the Association of Sail Training Organisations, the UK’s Sail Training umbrella organisation.
At least half of the crew on board each vessel are under 25 with the youngest sailors being 12 years old. The majority have never sailed before.
Lucy Gross, general manager of Asto, said: ‘I’m delighted that our Dartmouth to Gosport Small Ships Race is so well supported. A total of 23 Sail Training vessels from 13 separate organisations are taking part giving young people the chance to sail.
‘The fact that Asto is based in Gosport, where the race will finish, makes it even more special and I hope many more young people will be inspired to take part in similar adventures.’
A special welcome awaits the crews when they arrive in Gosport on Wednesday. A 250-strong crew parade will start outside Gosport Town Hall at 5pm, head along Millennium Walk, cross Haslar Bridge and enter Hornet Services Sailing Club for the prize-giving ceremony.
Gosport mayor Cllr Lynn Hook, will start the crew parade and present prizes with Commodore Peter Wykeham-Martin, Commodore of Hornet Services Sailing Club.
Asto is working with the Royal Dart Yacht Club and Gosport Marine Scene, a not-for-profit organisation promoting Gosport as a centre of excellence for yachting.
Peter Cardy, secretary of Gosport Marine Scene, said: ‘We’re delighted that Asto’s Small Ships Race is coming to Gosport. It’s a chance to showcase the huge range of services and facilities we have here.’
Seven teenagers from Gosport are taking part. They are doing the Marine Futures Programme, a six-month course of team building activities and sail training.
Cllr John Beavis chairman of community safety partnership & Gosport Marine Scene advisor said: ‘It will be something very special as it will be the first time this event has come to Gosport.’