Sail training project '˜means so much' for youth in Adur

Scouts in the area could soon have the use of a sail training vessel again.

A team of volunteers has been working on restoring Supeta and preparing it for the water
A team of volunteers has been working on restoring Supeta and preparing it for the water

More than a decade ago, 3rd/5th Lancing Sea Scout Group ran sessions on its own boat, until it became too expensive to run.

Now, thanks to the donation of another boat, volunteers are working hard to put a new sail training vessel on the water, with May as the target.

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Businesses in Lancing and Shoreham have already given a lot of support but what is needed now is the money to equip the boat to meet Maritime and Coastguard Agency standards.

On deck working on the mast

Tom Smith, Scout leader and project organiser, said: “The whole idea is to use it as a sail training ship. When we had the other one, it was well used. It was a fantastic yacht but it had to be sold because it needed so much work.

“There is nothing like learning respect on the boat. You have to learn how to work together as a group, you have to learn skills. The kids used it so much, working as a team.

“The downside is that before we can get it into use, it has to be accredited. We need to equip it to the required standard, which will cost about £9,500. I thoroughly agree, obviously, but we can’t move forward to put her in the water until then.

“If we can get it all together it will mean so much. It is going to be a fantastic asset. There is nothing else like it between the east coast and Portsmouth.

Sussex Yacht Club has been supportive, including helping put the mast into place

“Adur being a maritime area, it is nice to teach children how to respect the water and to use it. It will be a thing of pride.”

The boat, called Supeta, was donated by retired surveyor Janet Mockridge, former West Sussex county councillor for Southwick.

She and her late husband had been planning to sail to Australia in their retirement but he sadly died from cancer.

Tom said: “I was speaking to her one day because the boat was just sitting there. She didn’t know what to do. I said we lost our training ships in the area about 10 to 12 years ago and we would love to have another because all the groups lost out.

Working inside the boat

“I didn’t expect to hear any more. The next time we met, she said she really wanted the yacht to be put to good use and asked me to take it on on behalf of the Scouts as a sail training vessel.

“It is a very large yacht, a very expensive one. The mast had been taken off and it was absolutely filthy but you could see it was a fantastic vessel.

“We started work on it and unfortunately we discovered that although it looked good, there had been leaks on two sides and the wood under the floors was rotten. We decided to rip the whole lot out and a squad of volunteers has been busy putting it all back together. We have been busy.”

Sussex Yacht Club, where the boat is moored, has been very supportive, including putting the mast in place.

West Sussex County Council has given a grant of £1,900, Lancing Marine has put the engine in and Ambex Ltd in Lancing has offered to recommission it.

Tom is offering companies the chance to have their name on the mast in exchange for financial support.

Qualified skippers are already in place and the hope is to launch in May, operating from Shoreham.

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