My sailing journey

I started sailing when my family moved from Bristol to South Devon when I was 11. during the first month they enrolled me in a week long watersports course. I loved stand-up paddleboarding, I loved Kayaking, but when I tried sailing, I hated it.

The thing is, to learn how to sail, you sort of just have to start doing it. You make mistakes and you learn from them, well, you capsize and then you learn how to not capsize.

I really didn’t enjoy my first time sailing, It was wobbly and unstable, there were two other eleven-year-olds in the boat and I didn’t know what to do. Everything felt so out of my control, but the next summer I had proper lessons with a different teacher and she explained everything so well that when I’d finished the course, I just wanted to get out and sail again. I did my sailing level three and four the next summer and then I joined the sea scouts where we sailed once a week in the summer.

For an early Christmas present when I was 13, my Gran got me a SWYSA winter sailing club membership. Every other weekend I went to a different sailing club and learnt all the ins and outs of sailing. We sailed in rain, hail and even in snow. Most of the other kids there were training to dinghy race, or they already did and were wanting to improve, but I just wanted to be out on the water in my little topper, singing to myself, as I always did when sailing alone.

I turned 14 in February and there were only a few weekends of winter sailing left, but that summer my mum found an advert on our local Facebook news page, that the town council were looking for three young people to send on the adventure of a lifetime, an all inclusive trip on the famous tall ship Jolie Brise. I immediately said no, I had only sailed on little dinghies before, but my mum convinced me to just apply, and before I knew it I had submitted all my medical info and I had an interview with the mayor, the manager of the Wetherspoons that were funding the trip, and the skipper of the Jolie Brise who I talked to via skype.

I got a letter two weeks later saying that I’d been chosen. I was ecstatic, but also very nervous. The trip crept up on me and the few months before I set off rushed by. We were taken up to London where the tall ships rendezvous took place before we set off for the official start of the 2017 transatlantic tall ship race began in Torquay.

It didn’t take us too long to get from Greenwich to Torquay, two or three days if I remember rightly, and we stopped there until we had to set off again, no sleeping for longer than four hours at one time until we got to Sines, Portugal!

Four hour watches were interesting to say the least, but when we passed the finish line dolpins joined us! We turned around and went to explore a little town before we went back to Sines for the prize giving (and crew party) we had won the first leg! We were all very happy and I had officially caught the tall ship sailing bug.

A few months later I hadn’t had enough, and spent five days in Dartmouth doing a Competent crew course run by Dartmouth sailing club, which I had sailed at during my winter sailing days.

Because of this, I was one of the first people to be called upon when the skipper of the Jolie Brise needed an extra pair of hands to get the Tall ship from Ramsgate to the Isle Of Wight in summer 2018

I carried on sailing on the club yacht at my local Yacht club and intended to get back on the water in summer 2020, but of course Coronavirus scuppered those plans, but I’ll be sailing again whenever I get the chance.

Author: Rosa-May Bown

I study BA(Hons) Multimedia Journalism at Manchester Metropolitan University ⛵ my hobbies include listening to Norwegian pop, writing poetry, sleeping in and sailing whenever I can.

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