Sailing adventure bringing ‘life changing’ opportunities to return

An organisation providing funded training opportunities alongside one of the biggest challenges in the world, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, will return this spring to deliver further programmes on the West Coast of Scotland.

The Our Isles and Oceans mission statement is ‘Youth Opportunity and Professional Development for Sustainable Livelihoods’. After launching in June it has already seen 40 young people go through its training and development programme.

Our Isles and Oceans is privately funded and was created in response to the employment difficulties faced by people in the 18 – 35 age bracket because of the pandemic and lockdown. The programmes within the organisation focus on building confidence and resilience, finding opportunities and creating a community where mentorship, advice and support is at the core.

As the first new British Team Entry in the Clipper 2023-24 Race, Our Isles and Oceans will race alongside 10 other yachts in a circumnavigation around the world. Through the programme those who have taken part in the initial sailing training will be able to apply to secure a funded position on the 2023-24 race.

Gordon Ritchie, managing director of Our Isles and Oceans, said: “We are training young people for one of the biggest adventures in their life where we will be looking to create a winning racing team with competitive sailors who have gone through our own training programme. The Clipper Race is a fantastic ocean race to be part of as it provides a unique opportunity for business and networking, and we intend on promoting our message of opportunity on the global stage.”

Elizabeth Balmer, 27 from Largs, suffered with long-Covid for more than a year and took part in the Our Isles and Oceans programme this summer. She said: “I had a really tough time during the pandemic, I got Covid in March 2020 and suffered with long Covid for over a year spending seven months in bed. This was my chance to get back out there.

“Having the opportunity to immerse myself with people, after being scared to get Covid again and losing my confidence has been really special. The fact that I have managed to do it, I feel like I am finally back and I have recovered.”

With young people being particularly impacted over the last couple of years, Our Isles and Oceans Founders, David Stewart Howitt and Anthony Stodart, hope this new programme will continue to make a positive change in young people’s lives.

“We are really excited to be heading into our second season of programmes for 18 – 35-year-olds who need a hand after the last two years. Our Isles and Oceans offers 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. We want to encourage young people to get back out there, to live their lives and we hope we are giving back after all the sacrifices they have made since the pandemic begun.”

Our Isles and Oceans is once more looking for individuals who want to make a change in their lives and who might never have the opportunity to learn to sail, or to become part of a unique community such as this. Applications are now open:

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