The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Monday, 7 September 2009

Ayrshire students sail for Duke of Edinburgh’s award

Senior pupils from the four South Ayrshire Schools, who participated in their practice sailing expedition in June, completed their qualifying expedition at the end of August.

[Pictured: Claudia Cameron of Marr College at the helm. A further selection of images is available on Flickr CLICK HERE]

The sailing expedition was a pilot programme to test whether yacht sailing can be a viable option as a Gold Award expedition. Once evaluated by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award headquarters it could become an option open to all Award participants in the rest of the UK and internationally.

Councillor Hywel Davies, Lifelong Learning Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: “I would like to congratulate all the pupils involved in the sailing expedition on their outstanding achievements. Sailing is very challenging and I know that the pupils did not always experience favourable weather, but handled the stormy conditions very well.

“The pupils have gained a wide range of sailing skills, learned more about their environment and the information that they gathered about the location of a number of mammals who live in our water will be very valuable.

“This experience has given the pupils many exciting memories, enhanced their personal skills and I am sure that the lessons that they learned on the voyage will be of great value to them in the future.”

The pilot sailing expedition was a great success with the pupils returning with many exciting memories and experiences that helped to boost their confidence and self-esteem in preparation for life out of school.

After learning to sail a 42 foot yacht in June the pupils took command of a yacht in August. Through their own endeavours and courage, while under supervision, they sailed the yacht around the firth of Clyde and the North Channel exploring remote islands and coastlines.

The pupils anchored at Sanda Island off the coast of the Mull of Kintyre, Little Cumbrae and remote bays on the west coast, where they observed many marine mammals in their natural habitat at sea. Pupils saw minki whales, porpoises, dolphins and seals during the week, and reported their location to the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust as part of the organisation’s Community Sighting Programme.

Speaking about her experience Claudia Cameron, aged 17, an S5 pupil at Marr College said: “It was an excellent experience that I would highly recommend to others. Seeing the whales and porpoises was amazing.”

While at sea the pupils also completed the John Muir Explorer Award which is an environmental award to discover wild places explore its wilderness, help to conserve it and share the experience with other people.

In addition the pupils completed their Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Competent Crew Qualification. In two groups they sailed about 140 miles each over eight days.

During their time at sea pupils took many photographs, and video footage of the experience and these will be on display in Rozelle Galleries in October and November this year.

The pupils’ practice expedition can be viewed on ‘youtube’ at

The expedition was sponsored by South Ayrshire Council, Hillhouse Quarry, Association of Sail Training Organisation and Central Scotland Sea School.

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