New project launches to provide funded sailing programmes for young people affected by lockdown

The Clipper Race has partnered with a new campaign, Our Isles and Oceans, which will create funded programmes for young people affected by the pandemic and lockdown. 

The first stage of the initiative launches today and is calling for 18 to 35 year olds from across the UK to apply to a sailing programme aimed at developing self-confidence and self-esteem. There could also be the opportunity for 10 successful candidates to take part in the Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race as it sails around the globe, as an Our Isles and Oceans team entry has been announced today.

Over the past 15 months, lockdown has had a negative impact on the age group’s education and employment opportunities over the last 15 months.

The charity Young Minds ran surveys* earlier this year and found that 67 per cent of young people believe that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health. Our Isles and Oceans aims to provide positive experiences for these young people.

The Our Isles and Oceans mission statement is ‘Youth Opportunity and Professional Development for Sustainable Livelihoods’ and intends on, through the vehicle of sport and business, highlighting the importance of a sustainable future for the next generation through activities and partnerships with sustainable organisations and enterprises.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. Image: Martin Allen Photography

With young people being particularly impacted this past year, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, record-breaking sailor and co-founder of the Clipper Race, hopes this new programme will make a positive change in the successful candidates’ lives.

“Sailing is so much more than just a sport or pastime as it gives you experience that is as useful in the workplace as it is on board a yacht. The sport develops self-confidence and self-esteem which is so important to restore following the pandemic.

“Everything you do on board a sailing boat is practical and I feel practical skills have somewhat been lost over the years. Knot tying is one of the obvious skills that will be learnt but the crew will also start to understand the weather, the enormity of the sea and how to cope with them both.

“Problem solving is key to sail training, as is leadership and teamwork. You’ll often find young people are judged too early. Putting them on a yacht, with a team, is a great equaliser. You’ll see things are picked up quickly and as each challenge is overcome, confidence grows, with a new belief in themselves that they can achieve anything.”

The Clipper Race is the only event of its kind which offers everyday people the opportunity to train to become ocean racing sailors. The confidence built and the skills learnt through the sport of sailing can be transferred from on deck to the workplace which is why the first Our Isles and Oceans programme to launch will take place on a Clipper Race yacht.

This summer, along the West Coast of Scotland, up to 50 successful candidates will take part in a funded sailing course on board an Our Isles and Oceans branded (68 ft) Clipper Race training yacht. Under the guidance of a Clipper Race Training Skipper, each group of recruits will be challenged to learn new practical skills, develop their self belief and work as a team.

In addition, 10 of these recruits will then be offered the opportunity to apply for an additional four weeks of intensive ocean racing training to be held at the Clipper Race Training HQ in Gosport, Hampshire. If successful, they would receive a funded place on board the (70 ft) Our Isles and Oceans team entry which will be competing in the Clipper 2023-24 Race.

Each recruit would complete one leg of the Clipper Race circumnavigation. Taking part in this endurance challenge would see them face oceans such as the North or South Atlantic, Southern Ocean and North Pacific, carrying the message of Our Isles and Oceans from a national to a global stage.

Our Isles and Oceans Founder, David Stewart Howitt, explains: “In these challenging times, Our Isles and Oceans seeks to bring together the powerful forces of business and sport to offer an inspiring opportunity for the youth of today.

“Our Isles and Oceans will offer applicants the chance to learn from experienced professionals and to push themselves outside their comfort zone to equip them for the challenges of today’s marketplace.

“Outwardly focused and with a relentlessly positive approach, we at Our Isles and Oceans believe that there is opportunity for all given the right chance. We also want to bring awareness to the plight of the oceans and to promote the importance of sustainable livelihoods.”


Applicants aged 18-35 can apply through www.ourislesandoceans.co.uk. The focus of recruitment will not be based on past job or work experience but will instead be based on an applicant’s ambition to take part in this special programme. The campaign is looking to assist people who may think opportunities such as these are out of their reach.

The Our Isles and Oceans campaign begins with the first series of sailing programmes in July 2021. Applications are now being accepted through the website at www.ourislesandoceans.co.uk.


*The charity Young Minds surveyed 2,438 young people aged 13-25, between 26 January and 12 February 2021)

More news from All At Sea

Menu