Army of sail trainees arrive in Sunderland for journey of a lifetime at Tall Ships

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Sail trainees by the hundred arrived in Sunderland to begin their journey of a lifetime.

It’s almost time for the serious stuff of a tall ships event and that is the race to another port.

Sail trainees arrive on the Wylde Swan.

Sail trainees arrive on the Wylde Swan.

To take part in the race from Sunderland to Esbjerg, trainees from all over the UK - and further afield - arrived to begin their experience.

Among them were William Harrison, 21, and Piers Wheeldon, 24, who will be on board the Helena, a Finnish gaff schooner which is 26-year-old and is more than 100ft long.

William, from Washington, is a full-time tennis coach based at Everyone Active at Silksworth who have sponsored his adventure.

He said: “Everyone Active got involved with Sunderland City Council and the council said they could nominate their own sail trainee to race to Denmark.

I’ve heard 90 per cent of people get sick. Im hoping I am one of the 10 percent

William Harrison

“The opportunity fell to me and I was like ‘don’t tell anyone else!’.”

He said he was “extremely excited” but his main concern was seasickness. “I’ve heard 90 per cent of people get sick.

“Im hoping I am one of the 10 percent,” he said.

It’s been quite a week for Piers from Manchester. A day ago, he was accepted for a place at Sheffieled University, studying history.

Tall ship trainee William Harrison. 13-07-2018.  Picture by FRANK REID

Tall ship trainee William Harrison. 13-07-2018. Picture by FRANK REID

Within 24 hours, he was travelling to Sunderland to join the Helena to sail to Esbjerg.

He said: “I am a bit nervous about sailing. I have sailed before but it was kiddie’s stuff when I was little and nothing like this.”

As for seasickness, he’s hoping the wristbands his friend gave him will conquer that.

Tony vab den Bos, captain of the Wylde Swan, said: “We’ve got trainees on board from Scotland and Denmark.

Tall ship trainee Piers Wheeldon. 13-07-2018.  Picture by FRANK REID

Tall ship trainee Piers Wheeldon. 13-07-2018. Picture by FRANK REID

“We have 36 of them in total and 12 crew members.

“The ship can hold 50 at most so we’re fully packed almost. It’s been great over the past couple of days.

“The wind is in our favour and because it’s a thin vessel, that suits us. We have a bit of handicap in the race but we’re looking forward to it.

“Some of the trainees have been with us when they were younger and they are a bit more experienced now so they can do more when they’re on board.”