Young sailors overcome strong headwinds to arrive in Dartmouth for postponed Mayflower 400 Race

After two days of beating into a strong westerly headwind, 12 UK Sail Training vessels, crewed by young people, arrived safely in Dartmouth to mark the end of ASTO’s Mayflower 401 Small Ships Race.

The event, which began on 15 August, saw a fleet of UK Sail Training youth charities take part in a race to commemorate the 401-year anniversary of the Mayflower. Originally billed as the Mayflower 400 SSR last year, the event was postponed due to the pandemic. Sail Training vessels use the experience of being at sea to teach young people about resilience and overcoming challenges, while having fun and making new friends.

The race began at Southampton’s Ocean Village Marina and saw the vessels round the eastern end of the Isle of Wight before making their way West again towards Dartmouth. Strong winds and rough seas battered the fleet but amongst the crews, spirits remained high. Many of the young people had not sailed before, let alone through the night in difficult conditions. The first vessel to cross the finish line just south of the Mew Stone was Challenge Wales’ 72ft yacht, Challenge Wales, shortly followed by Morning Star Trust’s Sigma 38, Eastern Star.

Much like the Mayflower in 1620, a few vessels in the fleet were forced to stop for rest and repairs, with Ocean Youth Trust South’s Prolific anchoring in Studland Bay in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Meanwhile other vessels including Boleh Trust’s junk yacht, Boleh, and The Island Trust’s topsail Schooner, Johanna Lucretia, made the decision to retire early due to the strong westerly winds making sailing very difficult. Repairs were made rapidly, and all vessels and crews were able to continue sailing later in the week.

The sense of achievement and joy of the young people was evident in the on-the-water prize-giving ceremony where trophies and prizes were hand-delivered to the winning vessels moored in Dart Harbour by way of water taxi.

At the prize giving, ASTO’s Chair, Mark Todd, said to the young crews: “You were probably challenged on that race, worried whether you could do it, and you did, so next time life throws a challenge at you, remember this experience and know you can get through it. Your first night at sea was boating to windward in big seas and big winds, and you should feel immensely proud of yourselves. Teamwork, determination, resilience and communication skills is what Sail Training is all about and they’re skills that will help you get through life.”

This event was the first opportunity for Sail Training vessels and young people to gather since the lockdown. Since mid-July, over 30 Sail Training charities are finally able again to provide life-changing positive experiences for young people and disabled people.

Prize Winners:

  • Seven Seas Trophy (Line honours) – Challenge Wales, Challenge Wales
  • Aurora Trophy (First after corrected time) – Jolie Brise, Dauntsey’s School
  • Richard Langhorn Trophy (Spirit of the race) – Olga, Sailing Tectona CiC
  • Bloodhound Cup (Youngest average age crew) – Jolie Brise, Dauntsey’s School

Visit to learn more about ASTO, Sail Training, and the positive work  the UK Sail Training member organisations do. To find out more about other Mayflower 400 commemorative events in the South, visit:

A video of the prize giving is available on

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