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Join the adventure of a lifetime

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Published on 15 September 2017

University of Sunderland Sail Ambassador Ellie Lyall
University of Sunderland Sail Ambassador Ellie Lyall

The University’s Sail Training Ambassador Ellie Lyall took to the waves to promote a new scheme to get more young people involved in Sunderland Tall Ships 2018. Ellie, 20, from Ellington in Northumberland, is in the final year of her BA Journalism degree. She joined Sunderland Paralympians John Robertson and Matt Wylie to encourage young people to sign up for the adventure of a lifetime and take part in next summer’s Tall Ships Race as a Sail Trainee.

Opportunities are now available for anyone between the ages of 15 and 25 to take part in this action-packed, skill-enhancing and potentially life-changing experience.

Ellie wrote about her experiences as the University of Sunderland’s Sail Training Ambassador.

“My biggest highlight so far has to be the voyage I took part in earlier this year on the Lord Nelson. It was my first experience sailing on a tall ship, and also my first experience with seasickness unfortunately!

“Thankfully, other than the core experienced crew, I was quite literally learning the ropes with people in the same boat as me. The group, of about 40, consisted mainly of staff from Barclay’s bank and one other Sail Ambassador, who all had limited experience sailing as well, so that was a relief in a way.

“Over the course of four days (well, three if you count the one day I spent getting used to the constant movement of the boat), we got used to the routine of sailors. We split up into our watch groups and got into the shift system, where we all did our bit during mess duty. It is MUCH more difficult on a moving vessel, and that’s coming from an experienced waitress! I even had a go at steering the ship when it was my turn for watch duty.

“As well as picking up those new skills, we also took a step back from our reliance on technology. We were not allowed to use alarms to wake ourselves up for an overnight watch shift. Instead, we had to rely on people from the previous watch to wake us up, which I’ll admit was a difficult concept for me to trust when I felt someone tugging on my pillow at 4am. As well as this, our phones had no signal, and the close proximity meant you could strike up a conversation with practically anyone and almost any given time. The conversations were one of my favourite parts of the voyage, second only to the sunrises over the clear horizon. Breathtaking.

“Being an Ambassador has given me opportunities I never in a million years imagined myself taking up when I first enrolled in 2015. I also didn’t consider the benefits it would bring to my journalism degree. Working with the press and with the media team at the council has allowed me to gain invaluable contacts for stories, interviews and even boost my employment prospects once I leave university.

“I can see how the world of sailing does seem daunting and exclusive to a beginner, as I too felt the same. But, once you take that one step, doors begin to open up before your eyes, doors you didn’t think existed. Not only will you take part in a once-in-a-lifetime adventure aboard a world-class vessel, but you will pick up skills, confidence, lifelong friends and a sense of achievement that will shine through your character when trying to establish yourself in the working world.

“If you have not already, then I strongly encourage you to sign up to be a Sail Trainee for the Tall Ships Race 2018 from Sunderland. This is an amazing opportunity for the entire city, and to say you were a part of that will earn you some pretty epic bragging rights for many years to come!”

The Sail Trainee scheme is now open for anyone between the ages of 15 and 25. For further information about becoming a Sail Trainee go to www.tallshipssunderland.com or email TallShipsProjectOffice@sunderland.gov.uk

The Sunderland Tall Ships Races take place in Sunderland from 11-14 July, 2018.