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Sail Training International

Keith’s Crew

Keith’s Crew was a bursary fund set up in memory of Keith Robinson, Sail Training International company secretary, long-time friend and sail training advocate.

Keith’s Crew gave 16 young people from around the world the opportunity to take part in the first leg of the Tall Ships Races 2019, from Aalborg to Fredrikstad sailing on the Class A Tall Ship Gulden Leeuw (Netherlands).

The young trainees hailed from nine different countries; Australia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Portugal, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the UK. Their experience levels ranged from never having stepped on a ship before to limited sail training experience.

The voyage leg saw trainees put through their paces when it came to working as a team, personal challenges, sea sickness and working with people from differing cultures. It was a life changing experience for all during the race – they laughed, they cried and they made friends for life.

Cody McDermott

For Cody, 23, from South Australia it was an eye opening Tall Ships Races 2019. Cody was one of the trainees on Gulden Leeuw (Netherlands) who did have sailing experience and during the voyage he threw himself into the challenges at sea. He was delighted at being given an opportunity to develop his passion and he worked hard, often pushing himself for the greater good of the team.

“This has been the most unbelievable rewarding experience, you become a part of something special… oh and the things you take away, the soft skills – I would say to everyone with or without experience – get out and do something different.”
Cody McDermott, Keith’s Crew Bursary Recipient

Cody had some great news during the voyage when the Captain of Gulden Leeuw, invited him to stay on board in the position of Bosun Assistant/ AB. He did and he loved it, well done Cody!

About Kieth Robinson

Keith’s first sail training voyage was a present for his 39th Birthday and was on one of the schooners operated by the UK’s Sail Training Association and chartered by the Chilterns Branch of the association of which he went on to become a leading member. He became Company Secretary to the association in 1993. On its formation in 2003, Keith became Sail Training International’s Company Secretary.

“I am pretty sure he fell in love with Tall Ships sailing and training simply on sight of the boat.”

“But I know the night watch when he and two fellow watch members (who went on to become lifelong friends) competed in a headstand competition in the middle of the night in the galley, optimised the enthusiasm for tall ships which he carried for ever more.”

Simon Robinson

Keith lived and breathed Sail Training but sadly passed away in January 2018. This was shortly after the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta finished, of which he was an instrumental member of the organising team. The Keith’s Crew bursary fund was made up of donations given in his name at his memorial service and was then match funded by Sail Training International.

Keith held the role of Company Secretary for many years, ensuring his enthusiasm and passion was extended to all and he made a positive impact in the lives of many people he met. Keith made sure that the Tall Ships and Sail Training became part of his family’s DNA.

“We have all been on board, uncles and friends – all encouraged by Dad, two of us have been watch leaders on various race legs. The Keith’s Crew project is an amazing legacy, and makes us very proud.

“It’s a great testament to Dad and the Tall Ship community – it was an absolute privilege for Mum and I to meet the crew in Aalborg and see the differing levels of skillset.”

Simon Robinson

“More than 50% of Keith’s Crew trainees have never been on a ship let alone sailed on a tall ship before, we all know how lucky we are and this is something we can’t put into words.”

Cody McDermott (Participant)


Supporting Sail Training Around the world

Beyond the Tall Ships Races, Sail Training International works closely with the world’s sail training Tall Ships, national sail training organisations and host ports to help young people benefit from the sail training experience. In addition, we regularly organise seminars, fund research and publications relating to the benefits of experiential learning through sail training to young people, and much more.

Every year we continue to be moved, motivated and inspired by the difference participating in sail training makes to young people’s lives. We see young people from all environments, and particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, grow in confidence, rise to challenges, overcome fears, make lifelong friends and enjoy the adventure of a lifetime. Some of the young people we help go on to enjoy careers in the maritime sector whilst others draw on their experience to make their way in the world with their newly acquired confidence and skills.

As we approach our 65th year in an ever changing world, we would like to invite individuals and organisations who believe in young people and whose values resonate with ours to support the work we do.


Help us to continue our vital work in developing young people and promoting international friendship and understanding through a Virgin Just Giving donation.

Funding and Bursaries

Find out more about the different bursaries and funds we provide and how to apply.

The Tall Ships Races 2021 Update

Tall Ships Races International Ltd. and the Tall Ships Races 2021 Host Ports of Klaipeda, Tallinn and Szczecin, have jointly agreed to cancel The Tall Ships Races 2021.

The adventure starts here

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