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Young adventurers sail with Olympic kitesurfing trainer Maddy Anderson

A group of 10 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds had a chance to sail with Team GB Olympic kitesurfing trainer Maddy Anderson on a voyage of exploration with Tall Ships Youth Trust (TSYT).

A life-changing adventure at sea

The young crew, aged 12 to 15, were selected from Wiltshire Young Carers and Splash Targeted Youth Support Services, two organisations that work with vulnerable and marginalised young people in Wiltshire. They joined TSYT, a youth development and outdoor learning charity, for a week-long sailing trip on one of their 72ft Challenger yachts.

The voyage was part of a partnership between TSYT and Youth Action Wiltshire (YAW), the national award-winning youth arm of Wiltshire-based charity Community First. The partnership has been running since 2016, providing 120 young people with a transformational voyaging experience over the past seven years. The voyage was also supported by The Hugo Halkes Charitable Trust.

During the trip, the young people learned various skills such as hoisting and stowing the sails, navigating and steering, tying knots and preparing the Challenger to dock. They also developed their self-confidence, communication, problem-solving, teamwork and leadership abilities.

Young adventurers sail with Olympic kitesurfing trainer Maddy Anderson

A special guest on board

On the final leg of their voyage, the young crew were joined by a special guest: Maddy Anderson, a renowned British kitesurfer and Olympic trainer. Maddy is a member of the British Women’s Kite Foiling Team and part of Team GB’s training squad for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Maddy described her time on board as a “really special morning”, after joining the voyage in Warsash and playing a hands-on role in the home stretch to Portsmouth. She also sat down with the young people for a Q&A session, where she shared her experiences and lessons from her sailing and kitesurfing career.

Maddy said: “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.”

A positive impact on the young people

The young people who took part in the voyage expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity. They said they enjoyed the sailing, the scenery, the wildlife and the company of their fellow crew members and the TSYT staff. They also said they learned a lot from Maddy and were inspired by her achievements.

One of the young people said: “I loved meeting Maddy, she was really nice and helpful. She taught me how to steer the boat and how to use the compass. She also told me about her kitesurfing and how she got into it. She made me want to try it someday.”

Another young person said: “It was amazing to sail with Maddy, she was so cool and friendly. She answered all our questions and gave us some tips on how to improve our sailing. She also showed us some videos of her kitesurfing and it looked awesome. She was very inspiring and motivating.”

The TSYT staff also praised the young people for their enthusiasm, resilience and cooperation. They said they witnessed a positive change in their attitudes, behaviours and aspirations throughout the week.

One of the TSYT staff said: “It was a pleasure to sail with these young people, they were a fantastic crew. They worked hard, learned fast and had fun. They also supported each other and showed great respect and kindness. They should be very proud of themselves and what they achieved.”

A rewarding partnership for the future

The partnership between TSYT and YAW is set to continue in the future, with more voyages planned for 2024 and beyond. The aim is to reach more young people from Wiltshire and help them discover their potential and broaden their horizons.

Richard Broadhead, CEO of Community First, said: “We are delighted to work with TSYT and provide these life-changing opportunities for our young people. We are very grateful to The Hugo Halkes Charitable Trust for their generous support and to Maddy Anderson for her time and inspiration. We look forward to seeing the positive impact of this voyage on the young people’s lives and futures.”

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