The countdown is on for Orkney's Sail Trainees

Thirty youngsters from Orkney selected to take part as sail trainees in this summer’s event

Some of Orkney’s sail trainees get the chance to explore Swan in preparation for this year’s Tall Ships Races, from left to right: Jack Siderfin, Andrew Close, David Porteous, Ingrid Kerr, Halina Romaniszyn, Ellie Dingwall, Andrew Close, Jessica Bennett, Amos Erdman

The countdown to this year’s Tall Ships Races is on for 30 youngsters from Orkney after they were selected to take part as sail trainees in this summer’s event which takes place between 30 June and 8 August. And recently, in preparation they got the chance to explore Shetland’s own sail training vessel, Swan, which will be crewed by some of Orkney’s trainees in the Races.

The majority of Orkney's trainees will be sailing in the non-competitive Cruise in Company leg of The Tall Ships Races presented by Szczecin, organised by Sail Training International. This leisurely cruise will take place between Greenock and Lerwick from 12 – 21 July, where the fleet will call in at their choice of 12 participating guest harbours en-route.

Both Stromness and Kirkwall have been selected as guest harbours in this year's Cruise in Company, which will give many of the sail trainees the chance to sail in to their home town in true style onboard one of these magnificent Tall Ships.

Michael Morrison, Business Development Manager with Orkney Islands Council said: "We have now matched our trainees with the Tall Ships which has been a challenging but very satisfying experience. Our trainees have been in great demand so we have been able to place them all with top class Tall Ships.

"Some of our trainees will crew Swan this summer, a great vessel which was recently awarded the National Historic Ships' Flagship Award 2011 for their extensive sailing and visiting programme for 2011 and their emphasis on engagement with young people – so our trainees are sure to have an unforgettable voyage onboard her this summer.

"We are now looking to get our trainees measured up for their crew kit and begin the direct correspondence between the designated Tall Ship and the trainee, so that all are totally prepared for this once-in-a-life time challenge by the time they join their ships in early July.

"The selection process started last year where we anticipated a total of 10 trainees, but after a successful awareness campaign through schools, colleges and community councils, 30 trainees were recruited aged from 15 – 30 comprising 18 boys and 12 girls.

"A full programme of events is planned in both Orkney ports from 15 – 19 July to ensure a memorable stay for the ships, crews and visitors – the finalised events programme will be available to the public in early May.

"One of Orkney's main attractions is their sailing challenge which will take place between Kirkwall and Stromness on 16 July. There will be further opportunities for a day sail onboard a Tall Ship over the weekend. Anyone who wishes to be put on the waiting list should email their contact details and number of tickets required to where they will receive priority on future sailing opportunities. Tickets are priced at £40 and £30 for concessions and will be on a first come, first served, basis."