UTC Reading Cadets prepare for Round the Island race

A group of landlubbers from UTC Reading have been entered into the incredibly exciting Round the Island sailing race, taking place this summer.

UTC Reading Cadets prepare for Round the Island race

28 March 2022

  • Royal Air Force
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The race, the largest of its kind in the world, sees around 1,200 yachts race from Cowes around the Isle of Wight and back again - about 50 nautical miles (93 km).

None of the CCF cadets selected to take part in the event have sailing experience, but all have shiploads of enthusiasm.

To prepare for the gruelling race, the crew have been doing theory lesson on sailing twice a week, and this week (March 28-April 1) they are living and sleeping aboard a 44ft yacht and sailing around the Solent. By the end of the week, all will achieve RYA Competent Crew award.

Being run by Commodore Yachting, the crew are learning: knowledge of general sailing terminology and the parts of a boat, including her rigging and sails; sail handling and setting the sails; ropework and knots; fire precautions and emergency actions; personal safety equipment; man overboard actions; emergency equipment; meteorology; seasickness; helmsmanship; general duties; manners and customs; rules of the road; tender use and rowing.

At the end of the course, the aim is for the team to be handy and capable members of a crew.

Thank you to the RAF Charitable Trust, Ulysses Trust and Connaught Trust, which have given very generous donations to help fund this exercise.

UPDATE 06/04/22

They braved snow, sleet, strong winds and a broken engine on one of the boats, but we're delighted to announce that all the students PASSED and are now qualified competent crew!

David McArthur, Computer Science Teacher at UTC Reading, accompanied the crew and said on his return:

“I don’t know about the rest of the crew but I slept about 12 hours last night!”

“I hope [the students] all had a great time! It really was a week of two halves with the first three day’s winds being very light, great for training and finding sea legs and then two days of weather that a lot of sailors would say: ‘Yep ...think I’ll stay in and watch the TV!’

“The windy weather Thursday and Friday meant we were not able to go as far west to Yarmouth and Lymington as planned as there was the possibility that the weather might prevent us getting back on time.

“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 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."

How you can help:

UTC Reading are looking for fundraising opportunities. While this is nil cost for the students taking part, there is a substantial cost to make it happen. The college has already received very generous donations from the RAF Charitable Trust, Ulysses Trust and the Connaught Trust, and The Royal Navy have provided waterproofs. They would appreciate any other donations to the event. If anyone has fundraising opportunities they would like to offer, please contact neil.pouney@utcreading.org.uk