Youth charities back on the water for Mayflower 401 event

The Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) will hold its Mayflower 401 anniversary Small Ships Race this month with youth charities heading out on the water. The regatta, which was postponed last year, will take place from 15 August to 20 August 2021, and will commence at Ocean Village Marina in Southampton, and finish at the Royal Dart Yacht Club in Dartmouth. 

The Mayflower 401 Small Ships Race will see 13 UK sail training vessels take part, including those owned and operated by Ocean Youth Trust South, the Rona Sailing Project, the Island Trust, Morning Star Trust, and others. 

For many of the youth charities taking part, this will be their first major event in two years due to the impact and restrictions of the pandemic. Most vessels were only able to restart residential sail training in the last two months. Organisers say the race will serve as an opportunity to celebrate the reopening of this sector, which provides life-changing experiences for disabled people and disadvantaged youngsters.

The Mayflower 401 Small Ships Race is being held to commemorate the 401-year anniversary of the departure of the Mayflower ship on her way to transport Pilgrims from Southampton to the ‘new world’ in 1620.

More than 100 young people will take part in the three-day passage race which, like the Mayflower, will leave from Southampton and call into Dartmouth. Many of the young people competing in this race have never had the opportunity to go sailing before and will work as a team to steer, set sail, and navigate. 

Part of UK Sail Training Fleet at Cowes SSR 2019. Image courtesy of Max Mudie, UK Sail Training

“I’m so pleased we are finally able to host the Mayflower 401 Small Ships Race,” says Lucy Grodie from ASTO. “Sail Training is a brilliant way for young people to gain confidence, learn new skills and enjoy the outdoors. The benefits Sail Training can bring to so many young people are especially important after such a tough 18 months.

“While the event is billed as a race, it’s really the taking part and making the effort that counts. The young crews will come away with a renewed sense of what they can do, new friends and memories for life.”

Originally, the race was due to go ahead last summer to coincide with other Mayflower 400 events taking place across the South. The event is being supported by Ocean Village Marina, the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, Dart Harbour, and the Royal Dart Yacht Club. 

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