UTC @ Sea

Students report on their week-long adventure learning to sail.

All aboard: The students embark on their home for the week

The week of March 28 this year, ten lucky students went on an amazing adventure to become competent crew in Gosport and the surrounding coastal waters.

Mutahira Sheikh, Year 11, called the trip: “Life changing. This made everyone bond on a family level, we all feel so close.”

Andre Mingle, also Year 11, added: “It was a challenging but exhilarating experience and we made new friends, strengthening our teamwork skills and co-ordination.”


Over five days the students, ranging from years 10 to 13, learnt to tie various rope knots, how to tack and jibe, sail out of port and dock in the marina. All of this on a 44-foot yacht!

Washing up was part of their duties

In addition, the students, who were split between two yachts, had to prepare every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and then sit, family-style and converse about the day’s events. This was new to some students, many who had never cooked before.

Charlotte Longworth commented: “It was awkward at first eating together, but I eventually really enjoyed this time at the end of each day and actually miss it now.”

Buster Jupp added: “It wasn’t just about learning to operate a boat but also learning important life skills which we can use every day.”

The weather turned chilly over the week

Over the course of the week the two crews went out on the Solent, from Gosport, to Cowes to Southampton, sometimes in adverse weather which even sailors shun. At one point the winds were gusting force eight, the crews were caught in snow and sleet, and being bombarded by cold fronts – or ‘squalls’ – which called upon all their newly learned experience.

Carl Tipper said: “Our boat broke down at one point, we were trapped in a blizzard and I felt like I would never be warm again! It was still one of the greatest weeks I’ve ever had.”

Life on the ocean waves

The aim of the week was to qualify as competent crew, teachers and students alike, in order to compete in the Round The Island Race in the Isle of Wight in June of this year. All the participants passed the Competent Crew course and now are eagerly looking forward to the upcoming race.

Leslie Ngowi said: “Even though we have learnt a lot on this trip, we need to keep practising the skills we have learnt. We need local businesses or charities to help us raise the rest of the money so we can realise our dream. I have found a new passion in life and can’t wait to get back sailing.”

Kirsty Thomas, one of the teachers on the trip, expressed her admiration: “Looking back on the week it was a phenomenal experience for all of us. I was amazed at how quickly the students took up the challenge of sailing. It was extremely hard work and we got very little sleep on the boat over the five days, but their enthusiasm never diminished! I am so thankful to have been chosen to guide such a tenacious group of students and I’m lucky I also now can sail, I’m looking forward to the next stage of our journey too.”

David MacArthur, also a teacher at UTC who took the students sailing, added: “I just want to say how impressed by how well they all did. They arrived on Monday morning, not knowing one end of a boat from the other and more jargon to memorise than one of my comp sci classes. By the end of the week they were out tacking, gybing and sailing in a force 7! (…the scale goes up to 12 and recreational sailors rarely go out in anything over 7!)

The team passed the Competent Crew course with flying colours!

” The week was more than just about learning the fundamentals of boat handling – it takes a team working together and communicating to make sure that everything happens in a safe and controlled way – they had to trust and rely on other (…and that includes the cooking!)

“They worked together incredibly well and learned a lot about what it takes to live and work in what is an incredibly cramped space – I hope it’s given them a sense of anticipation and excitement for the Round the Island race in June.”

Watch this space as the adventure continues!

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