12th May 2017

Spring is a milestone in everyone’s calendar; the days become longer, the weather warmer, and new life marks the end of our winter months. In the boating world, Devon boat yards are equally full of energy as boat owners hurriedly work through the long list of outstanding jobs, working to the looming deadline of launch day. The Easter break was no different at South Devon Marine Academy as we worked hard preparing our two yachts for the upcoming season and imminent ASTO Small Ships Race! This year we kicked off the season with a Torbay based race to support the well-timed departure of the Transatlantic Tall Ships Race before embarking on our usual two week expedition with our Foundation Degree Yacht Operations students.

The Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) supports sail training nationally, alongside Sail Training International (STI), who are responsible for co-ordinating sail training on a worldwide scale; including the well-known Tall Ships Races. As a county we’ve done particularly well out of this spectacle the last two years, as 2016 saw Tall Ships from all over the world crossing the start line in Torbay for their race to Lisbon and this year crowds of people gathered on Berry Head to watch as Tall Ships were accompanied to the start line of the sensational transatlantic Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Race, which sees sail training vessels from all over the world compete in a circuit of the Atlantic, taking in Portugal, Bermuda, Boston, Nova Scotia, and Quebec before racing back across the Atlantic to France. Yacht Operations students and staff have secured places on each leg of the Tall Ships Race with the Rona Sailing Project on board Rona II and have already enjoyed line honours for leg 1!

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Following on from the success of last year’s Dartmouth to Torbay Small Ships Race, and at the request of Gordon Oliver (Mayor for Torbay) ASTO, in partnership with Royal Torbay Yacht Club, organised a Small Ships Race in Torbay and invited South Devon College to participate. Of course, we jumped at the opportunity to pitch our two yachts against each other, especially after Endeavour took 1st place in last year’s practice race! This time though our sights were set on some silverware and the students and boats didn’t disappoint. The racing took place over two days in the lead up to the start of the Tall Ships Race; Aspiration and her crew swept the board, taking line honours (first across the finish line), first in class, and first overall! Endeavour was beaten into second place by Aspiration in both races; however South Devon Marine Academy dominated the podium and Aspiration and her crew were awarded The Glenlee Trophy for 2017!

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Following on from their triumphant wins, both yachts, along with many other local vessels including Brixham based Trinity sail training vessels, accompanied the Tall Ships Race to the start line to wave off their fellow students, before embarking on a night passage to Guernsey for the first leg of their assessed expedition. All students on the trip were working towards industry recognised RYA qualifications as part of their degree; for some of the second year students this was their final opportunity to develop their practical skills before the end of the degree and progression into careers within the marine industry, such as deck-hands on superyachts, skippers for flotilla companies, and mates for crew transfer vessels.  For the first year students though, they have a year to enjoy their well-earned trophy and work on tactics to try and hold onto next year!

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For more information on our marine courses visit southdevon.ac.uk Alternatively, come along to our next Open Evening on the 17th May 5pm-8pm at our Vantage Point Campus, Long Road, Paignton, TQ4 7EJ.

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