​Programme returns to give pandemic-impacted young people opportunity to learn how to sail and gain life changing skills

03 May 2022

A sailing programme giving young people who have suffered as a result of the pandemic a week of funded training aboard a Clipper Race yacht has returned to Scotland’s West Coast. Following last year’s successful training courses, Our Isles and Oceans launched its second programme, welcoming the first of 40 new Ambassadors onto a 68-foot racing yacht.

Image: The first Our Isles and Oceans class of 2022

Born from the pandemic, Our Isles and Oceans aims to provide young people who experienced difficulties during lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions with the opportunity to learn to sail in Scotland and the opportunity to apply to take part in the Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race.

Our Isles and Oceans is working with several partners including Argyll and Bute Council, United Nations Association Climate and Oceans, the Scottish Association for Marine Science, GRM Marketing, ArdMoor, BID4Oban, Royal Dee Yacht Club and Snap Innovations.

“After 2021’s successful launch, we are really excited to be heading into our second programme for those who need a hand getting the ladder of life re-erected after the last two years,” says Anthony Stodart, Our Isles and Oceans Co-Founder and Managing Director of ArdMoor.

The programme’s focus is to aid young people aged 18-35 – the generation most impacted by the pandemic’s lockdowns and restrictions – in creating sustainable livelihoods. Ambassadors can go on to apply to be part of the Our Isles and Oceans team, benefitting from a fully funded crew member position in the Clipper 2023-24 Race.

Image: The participants of Our Isles and Oceans

Emily Caruso, Clipper Race and Our Isles and Oceans Programme Skipper said: “It’s been an amazing week for the ambassadors on the first 2022 OIAO programme in Tobermory. We’ve had amazing vistas, incredible wildlife- last night we had hundreds of dolphins around the boat in bioluminescence. We’ve seen some amazing changes, results and reactions from our crew, it really has been incredible!”

Dougie, 25 from Edinburgh comments on the week spent sailing: “It’s been absolutely incredible! The crew clicked really well from the moment we met, and we’ve gone from strength to strength! It’s been amazing working on the boat together, and seeing the dolphins- there were literally hundreds of them on the night sail! It’s just been an incredible experience. We’ve also started planning trips for the rest of our ambassadors after we go home. It’s a long term thing and I’m really excited about it!”

Hear what the rest of the participants had to say about the unique experience:

The spring programme is based along Scotland’s west coast from Oban and Tobermory and around the Isle of Mull, with the aim to reach the Isle of Skye in this programme.

Our Isles and Oceans offers its Ambassadors the chance to learn to sail whilst also learning about the ecosystem around Oban and Mull from an educational component developed by the Scottish Association for Marine Science in collaboration with last year’s Ambassadors.

In June 2021, Our Isles and Oceans saw 40 young people complete the programme. This year’s spring programme will see another 40 learn to sail and receive their RYA Start Yachting Qualification following five days of sailing and activities.

Applications will open in summer 2022 for the next Our Isles and Oceans programme coming later this year.

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