I’ve just watched a fantastic and humbling Ted talk delivered by Tracy Edwards. Tracy talked about her life and the journey to where she is today coupled with the awesome achievements she has been able to do with promoting equality in sailing. There are so, so many paralels with our own journey and the start of Morvargh Sailing Project. The first few minutes of Tracy Edward’s talk are such a fantastic way of describing the power of sail training!
As with Tracy my own experiences in school weren’t the best, I left with very few qualifications and it wasn’t until I was 25 that I was ready to go back and change that. I was lucky to find and engage with a land-based FE college and I studied the HND in Countryside Recreation Management (Outdoor Leisure) course. From the outset the HND was a perfect mix of experiential education and formal class lectures. I learnt about Kurt Hahn, Kolb, Maslow and other important people who have all shaped outdoor education.
It was experiencing the outdoors in a structured way, engaging in it, teaching on it that I found the passion that I now have for how much sail training can help young people. I was very lucky to get given the opportunity to sail with the Rona Trust early on and that experience changed my outlook on life completely! I was aboard for 7 days and I saw how quickly sail training gave young people the confidence to be ‘them’, gave them the resilience to believe they ‘can’ and gave them the grit and determination to be who they wanted to be.
This experience changed my life! We crossed the channel to France and the Channel Islands sailing a little over 220nm in a week. The group aboard worked hard and made some life changing discoveries; not only did it change the lives of the young people aboard, it changed mine. I saw the potential of sail training, the power of learning through adversity, the way it improves and changes lives. This epoch moment in my life saw me researching ways youth development is used in sail training – what came out; a youth development programme to be used on a sail training vessel and the idea of Morvargh was born.
The benefits and importance of youth development through sail training has been well documented in a number of studies, most notably in the research conducted by the University of Edinburgh. Each piece of research concludes that those participating in a structured youth development program on a tall ship benefit in a number of ways. We regularly see increased teamwork and leadership capabilities as well as increasing the level of community responsibility and academic ability in both girls and boys. Everyone has a chance to excel at something regardless of who they are. It doesn’t matter who your were when you started; it is your actions aboard that define you. There is nothing stopping anyone becoming the Skipper aboard and this is one of our most important guiding principles.
At the end of each sailing trip, everyone shares their ‘best bit, worst bit & funniest bit.’ and its always one of our most proudest moments. Of course the best and funniest bits have all merged into one amazing memory of laughter, funny songs, and silly names for things!
As I sit here writing this blog it is hard not to get despondent on a whole year of enforced shutdown and the prospect of a lost 2020 but it is videos and messages from people like Tracy and the conversations with previous crew members that keep us looking forward to when we can sail again.
Tracy’s own journey inspires our own; (especially the hard bits, we can share your pain!) it has always been that we believe that sail training helps everyone to further themselves in whatever way comes naturally; regardless of gender, race, or beliefs. Sailing is such a fantastic leveller that we agree whole heartedly that everyone needs to expereince it!
Thank you for such an inspiring message Tracy!