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Gentoo Youth Programme sailors making waves in Italy

by Gentoo Sailing Team 13 Jul 2023 13:50 BST

Cameron Hook and James Bassom, two of our 2023/24 Gentoo Youth Programme sailors headed out to Genoa last week for their first Marina Militare Nastro Rosa Tour; a multi-stage travelling race off the Italian coast, organised by Difesa Servizi S.p.A and Marina Militare.

This year saw the race's third edition and involved challenges at sea for different classes through various forms of sailing, from offshore races to spectacular inshore races. The pair sailed on a Figaro 3 in the Genoa - La Maddalena a 220nm leg claiming an impressive 2nd prize, and sailed a strong and tactically smart leg 2, 240nm from La Maddalena to Naples.

Faced with low breeze and some big planning decisions, it was a fantastic opportunity to rack up some double-handed miles and accrue some more offshore experience...after all, you can never have enough!

We recently caught up with both Cameron and James on how they joined the Programme as well as their plans and aspirations for the future...

"Hello! My name's Cam, I'm 18 years old and I've been part of the Gentoo Youth Programme for 2 years now. I've been lucky enough to have taken part in many different events, including the Défi-Azimut and Route Du Rhum in 2022 which I otherwise wouldn't have been able to attend and be a part of had I not been on the Youth Programme. James (Harayda) and Gentoo have opened a lot of doors for me, enabling me to try new offshore races and equipping me with better skills to succeed. This includes some double-handed sailing for the first half of 2023 with my co-skipper Max (an ex-member of the YP) in a few of the early season RORC races. As well as all of these cool opportunities, I've also sailed onboard the IMOCA alongside James which is a different beast! Every day is a school day on the boat and I'm super grateful to James for giving me a much needed leg up into this industry."

"Hello, I'm James and I am 23. I've been sailing since I was 8 and have always loved being on or around the ocean. I sailed both dinghies and small yachts as a teenager but am now focusing on developing my offshore sailing skills and knowledge and starting on what I know is a long, hard road of fulfilling my dreams of completing the mini transatlantic and the Vendée Globe one day.

I heard Gentoo was running a Youth Programme and just knew it was exactly what I needed! After going through the application process, I was lucky enough to be one of the twelve sailors selected. I've had the opportunity to sail on a variety of different boats including the Farr X2 (kindly provided by Sea Ventures who support the programme) and the IMOCA 60. I've been heavily involved with the refit of the IMOCA, learning invaluable information about the onboard systems and the critical level of maintenance these race boats need.

I am currently studying mechanical engineering at university and am finding I'm increasingly able to apply my studies directly onto a 'real world' project which is extremely rewarding. Being just a 'good sailor' isn't really enough these days - you've got to have very adaptable skills and knowledge about a variety of systems that are pretty complex. My sailing has progressed so much since joining the programme and I'm so grateful to surround myself at this early stage in my career with incredible sailors, coaches, mentors and industry experts both on and off the water - a real 'go for it' opportunity!"

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