Bursary opens for Clipper Race sailing programme

Mayor Cllr Brenda Stevenson pictured at the launch of the Clipper Race Sail Race Bursary opportunity, also included is Helena Hasson, Derry City Council. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com
Mayor Cllr Brenda Stevenson pictured at the launch of the Clipper Race Sail Race Bursary opportunity, also included is Helena Hasson, Derry City Council. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com

An amazing opportunity to train alongside the crews taking part in the ultimate global endurance test – the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2015/16 – is up for grabs through a special bursary scheme opening this week.

Organisers of the event have announced details of the ‘Your Next Chapter’ Bursary which is open to young people aged 18 and over, who are currently unemployed, participating in an employability programme or in receipt of benefits, and living in the Derry City Council or Strabane District Council areas.

Four selected participants will get to spend four weeks undertaking the training required to sail the 70 foot ocean racing yachts, which all race crew members have to complete at the Clipper Race headquarters in Gosport, South England.

Mayor of Derry, Councillor Brenda Stevenson, who was on the docks to greet the Clipper Race fleet during their rapturous welcome into Derry-Londonderry in 2014 said, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some local young people to avail of specialised professional sail training. Not only will it provide them with a new set of skills but it will allow them to experience what life at sea is really like.

“The Legenderry Maritime Festival which saw the Clipper Race boats captivate the city, had a huge impact on the people of the city and district and we are delighted to continue with our legacy commitment and build on the interest in sailing by offering this bursary opportunity.”

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston founded the Clipper Race to encourage and help ordinary people do extraordinary things. When the 2015-16 race fleet sets sail on August 30, it will mark the beginning of the tenth anniversary of the race, so it’s a special year for those selected for ‘Your Next Chapter’ to be part of.

Speaking about the scheme Sir Robin said, “The objectives of the ‘Your Next Chapter’ scheme match many of my own goals when I founded the Clipper Race nineteen years ago. Sailing provides the opportunity to develop so many core skills that are invaluable throughout life, such as discipline and honesty, because your success and survival is down to a real team effort.

“The Clipper Race training challenges people mentally and physically, but also brings a remarkable sense of achievement when you reach your goal. Many of the people who have completed this training previously find that they have a new zest for life and approach work with a new found confidence.”

The Clipper 2015-16 Race returns to Derry-Londonderry in June next year, which marks the city’s third team entry in the world’s longest ocean race.

‘Your Next Chapter’ follows the success of the ‘Back to Work’ bursary project that Derry City Council ran in partnership with the Clipper 2011-12 Race. Of the five finalists who were each selected to sail a leg each of the Clipper Race, four ended up in full time employment or a placement as a direct result of the scheme. All of the participants agreed that the scheme had a positive effect on their future employment.

Thanks to the 2011-12 bursary, Matthew Plummer, 46, completed the training and sailed from San Francisco to New York. He said: “The ‘Back to Work’ scheme for me was a once in a lifetime experience. It was a tremendous opportunity to sail and work alongside so many people from different parts of the world. It provides the ability to learn new skills and develop in ways you wouldn’t believe possible. The crew works so hard together and everyone endeavours to do their best to achieve a common goal, because after all it is a race round the world.

“The bursary scheme is a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself to work hard to achieve new goals by pushing and motivating yourself. The experience can lead to exciting opportunities both in your personal and professional life. In my opinion to take part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is something many people can only dream about.”

Those interested in taking part are urged to apply by downloading the application form available online at www.derrycity.gov.uk/clipperrace. A strict criteria is in place for all applicants, and no participants in the previous ‘Back to Work’ scheme are eligible to apply.

The closing date for application is March 9 2015. Successful applicants will be required to be interviewed at the end of March and be available to travel to England for level 1 and 2 training in early May and for level 3 and 4 training at the end of June/beginning of July.