Greig City Academy making waves after being accepted to enter Rolex Fastnet Race

Greig City Academy's four skippers with their instructors.

Greig City Academy's four skippers with their instructors. - Credit: Archant

A state school is making waves in sailing after being accepted to enter the Rolex Fastnet Offshore race in August.

Sailors from Greig City Academy, which expects to be the first ever comprehensive school to compete, will take part in the race that runs for more than 600 nautical miles and takes about four days to complete.

The crew will sail down the English Channel and into the western approaches of the Atlantic before rounding the Fastnet Rock off Southern Ireland and returning to Plymouth.

Jon Holt, head of sixth form and co-ordinator of outdoor education at the High Street school, will be selecting the crew over the next three months.

He said: “The four sixth formers who have just completed their Royal Yachting Association day skipper qualification will be included – they are our most experienced sailors.

“The day skipper course involved a six-day assessment along the south coast. They are now qualified to take paid work and sail any boat during daylight hours.

“Even though it’s termed ‘day skipper’, the assessment still required the boys to sail through the night. They also had to cope with fog and a force 6 wind, sailing unaided for more than 100 miles.

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“This is in addition to life saving practicals and navigation without electronics – I’m extremely proud of them.”

Crew member Montel Fagan-Jordan said: “The hardest part of the course was getting used to the boat we sailed on for the course.

“We’re used to the school’s yacht, Scaramouche, which is bigger. Also we’ve taken part in a lot of races where the focus has been on speed whereas on the course we had to focus more on navigation and safety matters.”

Fellow sailor Shabazz Patterson added: “It’s a big challenge for us. You have to be alert all the time on deck, everything can be still with no other boats in sight and then there will be a sudden change in the direction of the wind and it all becomes very intense as you tack to change course.

“We’ll be working in shifts over the four days. You think you won’t sleep between shifts, especially if it’s choppy, but as soon as you get into the berth you fall asleep because you’re just so physically tired.”

“At least four of the crew will be able to join the Royal Ocean Racing Club after the Fastnet race.”