North Sails NEWS


London’s first inner-city school sailing club fosters on-the-water experiences for the next generation

It began approximately two years ago when teacher and program initiator, Jon Holt, began taking groups of 24 students at a time down to Poole Harbour to work toward getting their Level 1 RYA Dinghy Sailing certificates. Over 250 students completed the course. The emerging crew members set their sights on the horizon and, after spreading the word to their peers, salvaged and restored a MacGregor 26 to spend the afternoons sailing out of Poole. Holt spearheaded a fundraising effort to acquire Scaramouche, a 45ft German Frers yacht. Holt and a crew of eight 15 year old students restored and sailed her throughout the summer before they entered and won the ASTO Small Ships Race, a national training regatta. Now, with a gem of a racing boat on their hands, the group has an ultimate goal of entering the 2016 Round the Island Race and next year’s Rolex Fastnet.

“The crew have worked very hard, not just sailing but also promoting sailing to others who normally cannot access the sport. They now have delivered their presentation 30 times to 22 primary schools. They were invited twice to speak at the Royal Yacht Squadron and their talk was very well received,” said Holt.

The North Sails team in the UK has already built a new jib and are working on a new mainsail for the team with extra support from British sailing legend Lawrie Smith.

“Lawrie has been the inspiration behind this and following his input has driven my crew to not just sail when I organize trips, but to buy dinghies off eBay and sail them on King George’s Reservoir in London,” said Holt.

Nigel King, former keelboat manager of the RYA and part of the Academy’s initiative to foster experiences on the water, reminds us of the primary individuals creating these opportunities: the teachers.

“I gave them a few contacts initially. They have run with them and moved forward. It is really about the youngsters, just really ensuring they get every opportunity possible,” King remarked. “But the bit that stands out for me is that the teachers are really taking a punt. There really are a million reasons why they would not want to do this. It is scary and different. But what they are doing is planting a seed and then, hopefully, we can all help take it forwards.”

The crew of Scaramouche spent an afternoon with the North Sails UK team at the new cutting-edge sail loft in Gosport, likely spotting their new mainsail in the works. Regional sales manager, Sam Richmond, reported the young team’s enthusiasm was an inspiration, “It is truly gratifying to see programs like Greig City Academy finding unique opportunities for students to explore outside the classroom. Even more exciting is they have chosen sailing as their platform. Of course we are thrilled to help in any way we can.”

Follow the team’s progress on the Greig City Academy website and Facebook page:

Images; Top: The Greig City Academy crew were invited to talk with the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace, February 2016; Above: Montel at the helm of Scaramouche