THE SCHOOLS SAILING PIONEER
Jon Holt runs Scaramouche, the only yacht operated and owned by a state school
It would be easy to say this is something just affecting sailing. In reality, young people have much more to attract their attention today, so school football and other sports are also seeing a decline.
There is an obvious financial barrier to yacht purchase for younger people, but we exist due to the wider yachting community stepping up to the mark to help young people go sailing. This extends beyond the classroom. When our sailing students leave school, they have built up relationships on other boats and so go racing and continue in the sport, despite not being in a position to own a yacht.
We have an honorary membership set up with Lymington Town Sailing Club, and whilst we’re not the club’s usual demographic, it works very well and fosters a sense of belonging. Sailing demands commitment, so anything that makes it easier for young people to get on the water has to be a good thing, breaking down barriers at the point of access is important, but we shouldn’t lose faith in what a supportive community we have. Our dinghy sailing has always been on secondhand boats, which proves to the children it does not have to be a high budget sport.