A group of 10 young people were given the opportunity to sail alongside renowned British kitesurfer and Olympic trainer Maddy Anderson after working hard to develop their skills on a Voyage of Exploration with Tall Ships Youth Trust (TSYT).
The crew of 12 to 15-year-olds, who were sailing as part of a partnership between TSYT and Youth Action Wiltshire (YAW), were joined by British Women’s Kite Foiling Team member Maddy for the final leg of their voyage on Friday 27 October.
Maddy described her time on board one of TSYT’s 72ft Challenger yachts as a ‘really special morning’, after joining the voyage in Warsash and playing a hands-on role in the home stretch to Portsmouth.
The kitesurfer also sat down with the young people on Challenger 3 for a Q&A session about her formative experiences in sailing and the lessons she has learned on her journey to earning international acclaim and becoming part of Team GB’s training squad for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Maddy says: “These young people have clearly had a really fun week, they’ve been really friendly to chat to and they had some great questions for me.
“I think they will all take different things away from this week, but they’ve clearly worked super well together and it’s really nice to see them working as a team on something that is completely different to everyday life.”
As one of the UK’s largest youth development and outdoor learning charities, TSYT has worked with YAW, the national award-winning youth arm of Wiltshire-based charity Community First, since 2016, providing 120 of their young people with a transformational voyaging experience over the past seven years. Throughout the partnership, the voyages have also been made possible through support from The Hugo Halkes Charitable Trust.
The latest voyage of this partnership gave 10 young people, all selected from Wiltshire Young Carers and Splash Targeted Youth Support Services, a unique opportunity to develop their self-confidence as well as skills in communication, problem-solving, teamwork and leadership.
Will, 14, one of YAW’s young leaders, says: “It’s been awesome to see some brilliant teamwork going on within the group, especially from those who were quite hesitant to put themselves out there at first but were then able to go forward.
“Having someone like Maddy who has a background in sailing come and see what we’re working towards has been brilliant. She’s given us some great insight into the world of sailing and if anyone is interesting in moving forward with sailing, they now have her as a role model.”
Rachel Greig, Inspire Tutor and Splash Support Worker with YAW, adds: “This voyage has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the young people to try something completely new and raise their aspirations. For some of them, this is a much-needed break from their caring roles but for all of them, this is a chance to create positive memories that will stay with them for life.
“The experience has been made even more special by Maddy joining the young people and I was so impressed by how confident they were in showing Maddy their new skills.
“By hearing about the incredible journey that Maddy is currently on, I hope our young people feel encouraged to continue their journeys at sea.”
During her time on board, Maddy assisted the crew with activities such as hoisting and stowing the sails, navigating and steering, tying knots and preparing the Challenger to make its final docking of the voyage.
As a member of the British Sailing Team, Maddy has benefited from funding from The National Lottery. TSYT and YAW have also previously received lottery funding, enabling both charities to continue providing life-changing support to young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Having started her sailing journey on dinghies at a young age, Maddy was one of four Brits to finish in the top 10 at the Formula Kite World Championships in The Hague, Netherlands, before placing 5th in the Formula Kite European Championships in Portsmouth earlier this year. She is now focused on training her teammate Ellie Aldridge towards victory at Paris 2024, where kite foiling is set to make its Olympic debut.
She says: “Sailing has shaped my whole life: it’s something that I fell in love with really young and there’s not really been many other things that have come close to it. It’s always been something I’ve strived to get better at, but I’ve always enjoyed just being on the water.”
All 10 young people on board earned their Start Yachting qualification from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and Leadership award from the Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN), as well as successfully completing the first stage of TSYT’s three-voyage programme.
TSYT’s three-voyage programme is tailored to young people’s needs, starting with a Voyage of Exploration which focuses on embracing new experiences, exploring the ocean environment and building awareness before moving on to longer and more challenging Voyages of Empowerment and Leadership.
Alastair Floyd, TSYT’s Chief Executive Officer, says: “We are delighted that Maddy could join the crew from Youth Action Wiltshire for the final passage of their voyage.
“As a charity, it is our purpose to empower young people to realise their full potential, and for some of those young people, their journeys to adulthood may lead to careers in the maritime sector and the blue economy.
“As someone who has taken her early love of sailing and channelled it into an exciting sporting career, Maddy is a positive adult role model who young people can learn from and strive to create better outcomes for themselves and for their communities.”