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South Coast youth charity's annual sailing race to take place this weekend

by Association of Sail Training Organisations 28 Sep 2021 19:28 BST 2 October 2021
Jolie Brise - Small Ships Race © Max Mudie / ASTO

More than 100 young people will take part in a youth charity's annual sailing race in the Solent this weekend (Saturday 2nd October).

The Cowes Small Ships Race is hosted by the Gosport-based charity, ASTO (Association of Sail Training Organisations) with support from the Royal London Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Squadron.

The annual event has run for almost 20 years and sees young people aged between 12-25 (known as Trainees) competing against each other on a fleet of Sail Training vessels. Many of the young people on board have never been sailing before, so the race provides an opportunity for the Trainees to challenge themselves and to take pride in their achievements. The popular event also provides the chance for many Sail Training organisations across the UK to celebrate the end of their season.

ASTO's UK Sail Training member organisations are youth charities or organisations that specialise in youth development. Sail Training uses the experience of being out on the water, in an unfamiliar environment, and often with new people, to teach young and disabled people about the importance of teamwork, communication, and other key skills that they can use later in life.

Sail Training can also improve mental health and wellbeing as it can help to boost levels of confidence, self-esteem, and resilience amongst our Trainees.

Lucy Grodie, General Manager of ASTO said: 'I'm delighted we are able to run our annual Cowes Small Ships Race again, almost back to normal. The pandemic has been a very tough time for Sail Training charities, and it is great to see them back on the water, providing such valuable experiences for young people from all over the UK.

Sail Training is such a positive, life-affirming experience, that can make a huge difference to young people who have been stuck indoors, anxious, and not able to socialise.

ASTO and all our members firmly believe that Sail Training adventures can help restore some sense of normality, fun, and hope to the young people taking part.

The Small Ships Race fleet consists of a range of vessels from traditional Schooners to modern charter yachts. Amongst the vessels competing this year are Ocean Youth Trust South's Southampton-based, Prolific; and Cirdan Trust's 109-year-old yawl, Duet.

The UK Sail Training fleet is due to arrive in Cowes Yacht Haven on Friday afternoon. The race will start at 10:00 on Saturday morning following the Parade of Sail at 09:30. In place of the usual inperson awards ceremony ashore, ASTO are holding a Virtual Prize Giving which will be broadcast on the UK Sail Training Facebook page on Saturday Evening.

For more information about UK Sail Training, and ASTO's Small Ships Races, visit or find us on social media: @UKSailTraining.

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