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12:54 Monday 2 Aug 2021 Esmé TillingCharity Day

Greig City Academy students sailing EROS. Photo: Paul Wyeth - pwpictures.com

For charity day this Cowes Week we are celebrating the accomplishments of the Scaramouche Sailing Trust. The Trust gives students from an inner-city school the opportunity to participate in regattas, refining their skills until they become independent sailors.

Greig City Academy’s (GCA) Head of Outdoor Education, Jon Holt, established the Trust after identifying a lack of accessibility to sailing for his students. Both the situation of the school in London and the fact that GCA isn’t a fee paying school, resulted in the students’ exclusion from the sailing community.

Undeterred, Jon scoured eBay until he discovered a neglected 45ft former racing boat called Scaramouche. With the help of his students they refurbished Scaramouche, making it suitable for racing and thus enabling the students from GCA to race at a professional level. They have since competed at Cowes Week multiple times on Scaramouche and the Trust’s smaller yachts.

The need to make sailing more accessible for students is reinforced after speaking to students Jaydon Desmond, Jamal Ganiyu and Kai Hockley, who said that they “didn’t really know what it was” before participating in the programme. Jon hopes that the efforts made at GCA can act as a ‘signpost’ for other schools with students who wish to sail.

Sailing, for Jon, is the perfect sport for students “because it encompasses so many elements of education that we want.” Specifically, he noted decision making, communicating and concentrating as key skills gained. These skills are practiced even prior to setting sail, with students participating in the programme expected to do talks to prospective companies in order to fund the sport.  

Student Kai Hockley expressed that he now feels that he knows how to present himself to people. A skill Jon views highly, stating that “the boys and girls have to ensure that they are impressing the sailing community enough to trust them not only to fund them, but then to use the funding wisely.” The students, using these skills, have been able to encourage numerous organisations to not only raise money for the programme, but to help provide them with essential equipment.

Jon suggested that the best way competitors can support the programme is for young sailors to go on to other boats, because it is the best way for the students to gain experience. Additionally, competitors can donate at justgiving.com/campaign/scaramouche2022