Young sea pups are getting a taste for the sailing life in the Cowes Small Ships Race series this weekend.

Over in the Solent this Saturday, 3 October 2015, around 24 vessels will be taking to the water with some very brave crew members onboard.

It’s the annual Small Ships Race and, to take part, 50% of each crew must be made up of members who are under 25 years old, most of whom will not have sailed before.

Participating boats gather in Cowes on Friday afternoon, 2 October, with a race on the Saturday and prize giving on Saturday evening.

ASTO, who organises the race, wants to give the young people involved an experience they may not otherwise have had the opportunity to enjoy.

And evidence suggests that by providing a first taste of the high seas the future of sailing is secured.

Lucy Gross, general manager at ASTO, agrees and told us, “While the emphasis is on having an adventurous and challenging experience, many of the young people taking part grow an interest and passion for sailing and will stay involved.”

Small Ships Race 2014

Young sea pups participate in the Small Ships Race 2014.

Each vessel that takes part this year, including a 35 foot Bermudian sloop and a 100-year-old gaff cutter, is operated by not-for-profit organisations and the event is supported by clubs and charities such as the Royal London Yacht Club, Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes Yacht Haven and the Herapath-Shenton Trust.

Around 230 young people are given their first onboard adventure in about 24 vessels, and the race is run under the same rules as Tall Ships Races.

The event was launched in 2002 with a race from Weymouth to St Malo, and since then host ports have included Ipswich, Delfzijl, Glasgow, Greenock, Belfast, Cowes, Torquay, St. Peter Port, London and Portland.

ASTO now organises two types of race event: an annual ’round-the-cans’ race and, about every two years, a longer ‘passage race’ with at least two host ports and a longer stretch of offshore racing. Details of the 2016 and 2017 events will be announced soon.

More information about how you could get involved as a volunteer or a spectator can also be found on ASTO’s website.

The future of sailing is plain to see. And it’s looking good.

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