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Young people fear storms and "becoming fish food" ahead of training regatta

The end of April was the last chance to apply to learn sailing in the world's largest international training regatta, Tall Ships Races 2024 – Estonian organisers of the programme reveal what attracts young people to sailing and what scares them away.

Young people had the chance to enter five different stages of the training regatta, and this year Tallinn will be hosting a stage on July 11-14 as part of a spectacular maritime festival. This summer, there will be music, great sailing and maritime activities in the Noblessner Marina, the Seaplane Harbour and the Old City Harbour cruise area.

Madis Rallmann, a member of the board of the Estonian Youth Sail Training Society and fleet manager of Tall Ships Races Tallinn 2024, asked young people to briefly explain what motivated them to apply for sailing training.

"In short, many young people had already been wanting to go to sea, and added that the Tall Ships Races is such a unique event that it inspired them to apply," Rallmann said. "Some young people might already have sailors in the family and they want to broaden their experience. There are also those who were inspired to apply by friends who had already submitted applications, as they want to travel together and learn something new.”

Rallmann has been involved in sailing training for many years and in his experience, young people have their share of fears before joining the international training regatta, but they dissipate once on board a sailing ship. "My biggest fear is still whether I can actually do it. If all the training teams work to support, help and teach the participants, the feedback is always very positive," Rallmann said.


Margit Virkus, a sailing instructor at Tall Ships Races Tallinn 2024, knows that young people look for new and exciting adventures in the summer, so there are many who have no previous sailing experience. She says that the international sailing training does not require any previous experience, as everything will be learned during the training.

"As Madis said, the main expectation is to gain experience and make friends with other young people around the world. Fears before sailing are mainly about getting seasick and 'becoming fish food' in front of other crew members, which is understandable – for those with no previous experience of being at sea, the stormy sea can be a bit scary at first," Virkus said.

Rallmann added that, as an experienced sailor, seasickness is indeed awful, but you feel great once it passes. "Sometimes seasickness puts life into perspective, and other problems start to seem very trivial."


In reality, life on sailing training ships is not bad at all, the sea is not always stormy and not everyone gets seasick in a storm. "In general, any fears are overcome together, because when anything does happen, your crewmates will usually be seasick as well, and the captains get the ships through rough weather in one piece," Virkus assured.

Generally, the mood among young people is upbeat and very positive after each race. "I have yet to meet a person who, after taking part in a regatta, says that they didn't like it or that they never want to go to sea again, and we have many young people who come back whenever they can," said Virkus.

The sailing training will be carried out on the sailing ships of the international regatta Tall Ships Races 2024. The fleet typically includes both large historic sailing ships and modern ocean racers, and at least half of the crew on each vessel are young people of ages 15-25 from different countries, many of whom are sailing for the very first time. Each sailing ship has a professional crew with many years of experience to ensure the safety of the young sailors and a high quality programme.

Photo credit: Koit Krusberg


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