It was with great sadness that Sail Training International learned of the passing of HRH Duke of Edinburgh, who died on 9 April 2021. Throughout his life, His Royal Highness was a strong supporter of youth development and enjoyed a long-standing relationship with The Tall Ships Races stretching back to the first race in 1956.
As the patron of a number of charities in his time of service, His Royal Highness was famed for his keen interest in helping a range of causes. One of his earlier patronages was that of the Sail Training Association (STA), organisers of the first Tall Ships Races events and he played an important role straight away, starting the first Tall Ships Race in 1956.
Originally conceived as a farewell to the time of Tall Ships, the first Tall Ships Race from Torbay to Lisbon instead became the first instalment of the now world-famous race series. The support from HRH the Duke of Edinburgh providing an invaluable contribution in the early years of the races.
Over the following years, His Royal Highness visited the races on a number of occasions when they visited the UK. Enjoying the spectacle of the Tall Ships in port and taking a keen interest in the young people from various backgrounds and nationalities taking part.
Fast forward to 2006, and the races would come full circle with HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and they returned to Torbay for the 50th Anniversary Tall Ships Races. During a special visit to Torbay, His Royal Highness met with young trainees excited to take part in their first adventure under sail, alongside trainees and participants from the very first race in 1956.
The visit perfectly captured the positive impact of Sail Training on young people’s lives as around 30 trainees who took part 50 years earlier returned, exemplifying its transformative impact.
Commemorating the visit, His Royal Highness was presented with a memorial belaying pin from a young trainee. In return to mark the occasion, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh thanked Sail Training International for the significant contribution The Tall Ships Races make towards youth development around the world.
15 years on, the visit is fondly remembered by all in attendance and continues to act as a timely reminder of the wide-ranging positive impact HRH the Duke of Edinburgh made in his years of service.
“Sail Training International has given many thousands of young people the chance to experience the satisfaction of learning how to use the natural elements to reach a destination across the ocean by the team management of sails in every kind of weather condition.
“There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of arriving at the chosen destination after a hard passage, or at the end of a close-run race.”
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, Tall Ships Today: Their Remarkable Story (2014)
Although the passing of His Royal Highness is marked with sadness, he will be remembered with great joy and appreciation throughout the international Sail Training and Tall Ships communities.
The thoughts and condolences of Sail Training International are with HM the Queen and the Royal Family at this difficult time.
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