We have to remind ourselves that Scaramouche is a school project and has to be fitted in, for staff and for pupil, around academic work and studies. Like most schools Greig City Academy is particularly busy during the Autumn Term with new pupils settling in, Year 10 and Year 12 starting new courses and Year 11 and Year 13 on the final push towards public exams. Scaramouche is just one of the extra-curricular activities offered to pupils at the school but the project is going from strength to strength with sailing and training continuing throughout the winter months.
Looking back over the past few months, winning the prestigious ASTO Small Ships Race against all the odds was something of a turning point. Scaramouche won her class against 30 other craft many from well-known and experienced sail training organisations. I think it is fair to say that, given that it was our first race, the result was unexpected! It certainly got Scaramouche and her novice crew noticed…
In November we were then invited to deliver a talk at the Royal Yacht Squadron. This seemed to go well and we have been invited back to speak again in February.
In December the crew were given the opportunity to deliver their presentation to an international, record-breaking, round-the-world yachtsman – Lawrie Smith. The presentation took place at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club and Lawrie has been immediately proactive in supporting and helping “Project Scaramouche”. As a result of his support on January 18, 2016 we will be taking the students to North Sails, the biggest sailmaker in Europe, again to deliver the talk, we are looking for support and advice and perhaps more material support! Mr Smith has also invited us to inspect a berth in Southampton which, if it is suitable, will save us the £6000 annual mooring fee in Poole Harbour. This kind of support from individuals and organisations within the sailing fraternity has been genuinely heart warming. Of course the underlying purpose behind all of these presentations and talks is to find the funding we need to support the project which we are now convinced is both worthwhile and sustainable into the future.
Most importantly Scaramouche has been working hard! In addition to the original crew we have now heard six further groups quite literally “learning the ropes” having moved on from smaller craft. We have continued to work with the Coast Guard and without partners in Poole Harbour with trips most weekends.
The weather has not been kind. The south coast has been battered with a series of Atlantic storms coming in seemingly one after the other! This rough weather training has involved some heavy seas and difficult conditions, but all much needed experience if the crew are to be ready for the four races we have entered between July and October 2016 as we build towards Fastnet.