Sue Dowell


Tall Ships Youth Trust
The Tall Ships Youth Trust is the world’s oldest, largest sail training charity for 12-25 year olds, taking 3,000 individuals to sea a year. It helps disadvantaged and disabled young people to develop their self-confidence and life skills, to develop a healthier more active lifestyle and to start volunteering. James (16) "I’m always being told that I’m trouble, that I’m not good at anything - but my voyage changed all that. I’ve learnt how to work in a team, that discipline gets things done and above all I can do all sorts of things I didn’t know I could." Ellie’s Mum (daughter has Downs Syndrome) "This is the first time Ellie has been assessed on her ability not her disability. From the moment she stepped on board she was accepted as part of the crew. It truly changed her life". The Trust has a fleet of 6 vessels - 60m tall ship, 4 x 22m ocean going yachts and a 19m catamaran. Over 100,000 individuals have sailed 1.9 million nautical miles with the Trust.

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Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 - Team 'Challenger 1'

Sue Dowell, William Mitchell, Anthony Sargent, Simon England, Amy Versey, David Cousins, Rob Mathieson, Toby Downes, Neil INgle, Fergus Duncan,

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In a mad moment, nine people who had never met (apart from Fergus & Toby who are partners in crime of old that is!) all signed up for the Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 with the Tall Ships Trust to complete the infamous race (everyone is quick to remind us of the 1979 Fastnet when 18 people died in freak storms...) on one of their 72ft Challenger racing yachts, Challenger 1, starting on 11 August 2013.

This adventure will see us sailing the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s iconic biannual offshore 608 mile race from Cowes in the Isle of Wight to the Fastnet Rock off the South West coast of Ireland and then back as far as Plymouth. First held in 1925, the 2013 race will have the largest number of participants in it’s 89 year history with up to 380 yachts from 5 continents and crew from over 22 countries taking part. The Fastnet race tests both the inshore and offshore skills of the most experienced yachtsmen...and then there’s us novices taking it on!

We all met for the first time at a sea safety training weekend in April - hauling each other into a life raft in a tropically heated swimming pool may not be an entirely realistic environment for the race we're about to face but it was certainly a good ice breaker! Since then the team - Amy, Bill, David, Fergus, Neil, Rob, Simon, Sue & Toby, ably lead by Skipper Mike Collier (AKA Monkey), Mate Mike Perham & Watch Leaders extraordinaire Chris & James - have so far (as of 30 June) shared 14 days on board, sailed 669.7 miles, completed 2 qualifying races, crossed the English Channel, survived a hail storm & what felt like a hurricane (to the uninitiated), got stuck in the doldrums off the coast of Cornwall, eaten our body weight in pasta, chocolate and flapjacks several times over, & consumed approximately 280 well earned cups of tea between us (many while at an angle of 45+ degrees)...not to mention the odd shandy or two to celebrate our survival in the pub once we’ve got back to dry land!

We can now sweat the main, hank sails on/off even while slamming into waves, flake sails, hoist sails, steer in a straight line (sometimes), differentiate between the uphaul & the pole up (on a good day...), & by the time we get to the Fastnet itself in August we should all be pretty proficient thanks to Monkey & Mike's expert tuition...

Then, just a couple of weeks before the race itself, three more willing recruits signed up to join the team on Challenger 1 in the form of...Alex, Anthony & Robin!

While the Fastnet is obviously an adventure for all of us who have made Challenger 1 a home away from home from April to August this year, we've all chosen to sign up for it with the Tall Ships Trust so that we're supporting their amazing work as a charity with young people at the same time.

The Tall Ships Youth Trust, formerly the Sail Training Association, is the UK’s oldest and largest sail training charity founded in 1956 and is dedicated to the personal development of young people aged 12-25. Sailing as part of one of their youth crews is a way for young people to really participate and be empowered by getting stuck in as part of a team and, whether on their Tall Ship Stavros S Niarchos, one of the Challenger yachts or the Catamaran, it provides a unique, physically and mentally challenging residential setting in which young people can really explore their true potential. With over 3,000 people sailing with the Tall Ships Youth Trust every year, on average over 70% of the young people are disadvantaged or disabled, and their time on board working as part of a team can be a life changing experience for many of them, building self esteem and self confidence and inspiring them to find a new path in life moving forward.

The Tall Ships Trust makes a very real difference to young people, and while we’ve all paid for our place as a crew member on Challenger 1 for the Fastnet 2013 Campaign, we would really like to raise some additional money in support of the Trust’s work with young people in recognition of the difference that they make to so many lives for people who may not otherwise get the opportunity to learn what their true potential is.

With your help, if we raise £3,000, together we can sponsor three berths on one of the Tall Ships' boats for a year which means that three places are available for disadvantaged young people on each of their youth voyages. That way we can turn all our bruises, aching muscles, lack of sleep, sweat and tears into something positive for lots of young people which would really make all our suffering worthwhile!

We really appreciate your support and we promise that we’ll be working really hard over a total of 1,400+ miles to earn it...

With many thanks,

Alex, Amy, Anthony, Bill, David, Fergus, Neil, Rob, Robin, Simon, Sue & Toby

Recent donors

13.09.13 Hi Rob, very well done! I had considered doing something like this years ago when I was sailing a lot, but never got around to it, so I take my hat off to you. All the best, Lester

10.09.13 Fabulous, well done sailor Sue

03.09.13 Well done Neil and the team

01.09.13 I am very impressed. Well done to all the team. An amazing achievement.

30.08.13 Great result Rob, well done to all of you. I hope the smile I saw in Cowes survived the trip...!

26.08.13 Well done Rob and the rest of the crew! A magnificent effort!

22.08.13 What a great experience, but glad you and the rest of the crew all back safely

16.08.13 fantastic

12.08.13 Come on guys! See you at the other side!!!!

12.08.13 I hope everything goes well for you.Good luck



12.08.13 Good luck to you all.

11.08.13 Good Luck Rob and the crew. Maggie

11.08.13 Good luck Dad :). From both me and Valerie

11.08.13 Wishing you safe sailing for a worthy cause!

10.08.13 Thanks for the SMACKO

10.08.13 eat well .... and don't be sick!!

10.08.13 sail well

09.08.13 Good luck Tobes from Grandma, Claudia & Phoenix

09.08.13 Good luck Sue. Gambatte. Moragx

09.08.13 Bon Voyage Captain Lobster!

08.08.13 Good luck mate!!!

07.08.13 Wishing you the best of luck David, and fair winds!

07.08.13 Be safe you bunch of absolute lunatics, and good luck, (ps glad you're getting the snoring for a while.......)


Running total

Total raised incl. Gift Aid:
Total donors:
Last donor:
lester bennett
Offline fundraising: