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Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust docks in Cardiff Bay for the Extreme Sailing Series™

28.08.2017

The young sailors of Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s Round Britain 2017 voyage got shown the ropes by the crew of Oman Air, as their journey coincided with the sixth Act of the Extreme Sailing Series™ on Cardiff Bay.

The national organisation was set up in 2003 by Dame Ellen MacArthur with the aim of helping young people rebuild their confidence after cancer through sailing. 100 of these young people will be involved in the Trust’s Round Britain Tour this summer, a 2,400-mile sailing relay around the UK.

The 44ft voyage yacht, Moonspray, has just completed leg 13 of its 120-day journey, which began in Scotland in May and has travelled clockwise around the UK since, stopping in Cardiff Bay before it continues on to Holyhead.

One of the crew who will be taking part in the next leg of the trip, Mark Adams, explained what the project means to him: “It helps you to get out and meet new people and builds your confidence. You can be independent and learning new skills and you get to see the country through a totally new experience. I was completely new to sailing the first time I did it but it was great fun and I learned loads of new things about the sport.

“It was good to meet the other people on the boat. They had all been in the same situation as me, were going through treatment or had been through treatment, so it was really interesting to hear their stories and just get to know them. It was inspiring and motivating,” added Adams, who has previously sailed with the Trust.

Extreme Sailing Series sailors Ed Smyth and James Wierzbowski spent the morning with the young sailors, showing them around the Omani-flagged foiling GC32. The high-performance catamaran, which is designed for inshore racing, is very different to the monohull that makes the trip around Britain.

“We had to pull up one of the J-foils which was extremely hard work, so credit to the sailors for being able to do that quickly while racing. I’d love to get into foiling having watched it now, it’s just incredible,” said Moonspray crew George Paxford.

“Sailing has become a real passion of mine since I first started with the Trust so I’m really excited to watch more of the racing,” added Paxford.

Hannah Spencer is a true success story of the Trust. She explained how she took to sailing after her first experience and went on to work for the project.

“I was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and got invited by my hospital to go sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust for the first time in 2010. I did my four-day sailing trip, like Mark has done, and I really took to it so I kept going back every year.

“I went through the Trust’s Return to Sail programme, did my Royal Yachting Association Competent Crew qualification and went back as a volunteer. Then last year I did my Yachtmaster, became commercially endorsed, and got offered the job to be mate on the Round Britain 2017.

“The Extreme Sailing Series is really exciting. The boats were tacking right in front of us and it was really cool. We were very impressed,” added Spencer.

The Trust have a stand in the free entry public Extreme Sailing Series Fan Zone, located by the Norwegian Church on Cardiff Bay, where you can find out more about the inspiring work they are doing.

For more information, or to follow the progress of Moonspray as it continues its journey around Britain, take a look on the official website.