A 10-day adventure on the Young Endeavour has galvanised Mitch Allen’s ambition to pursue a career in sailing.
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The 16-year-old was so taken by the experience, he now dreams of a life on the water.
“It was an incredible experience,” said the Nowra youngster who was part of 21 person crew from six states and territories who sailed the Young Endeavour from Brisbane to Newcastle.
“It was definitely an experience I want to do again.
“It has really inspired me to pursue a career of some sort in sailing.”
Up until this stage he admitted he had done very little sailing.
“I love the water and in particular surfing but this was a big learning curve,” he said.
“We got to learn the ropes literally and the technical name call outs to allow the ship to operate and do things like setting sails.
“We were woken up in the middle of the night to do our shifts and take over the running of the ship. We did some navigating and for one day of the cruise our team was in command and had to control the whole ship.
“It was a good challenge.
“It’s a pretty big boat - to the top of the mast is 32 metres - it’s massive up there.
“It was pretty spectacular when all the young crew manned the mainmast as we came into Port Stephens to complete the adventure.”
Mitch was nominated for the cruise by his father Scott.
“I didn't know anything about it,” Mitch said.
“He told me about a month beforehand. It was all pretty exciting.”
He said the experience had whetted his appetite to do more sailing.
“I’m going to look into joining a local sailing club,” said the Year 10 St John’s student.
“I just want to get back on the water.
“Ultimately, I would like to get some sort of career in the sailing industry.
“I’m not sure of what type of sailing but not the navy at this stage.”
His advice for any other locals considering applying for the Young Endeavour experience was simple “just go for it”.
“It is a great experience. One of my favourite events and experiences of my life so far,” he said.
And there was more good news for Mitch who was presented with the Young Endeavour Award by the Order of Australian Association (NSW Branch) by the captain in recognition of his commitment to the pursuit of excellence while demonstrating the ethos of the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme during the cruise.
Only one of theses awards are given out each voyage.
The citation read “Always doing your best regardless of success or failure. You have also displayed a spirit of friendship by supporting each of your fellow youth crew to achieve their personal goals throughout the challenges, hardships and good times encountered over the duration of the voyage.”
Tall ship STS Young Endeavour is a national icon. The 44 metre brigantine and was the birthday present from the people of the UK to Australia for its bicentenary.
She was handed over by the Prince and Princess of Wales at a ceremony on Australia Day 1988.
In the last 30 years more than 13,300 young Australians have benefitted from the youth development program delivered by its navy crew.
The ship completes around 20 voyages each year. During each voyage youth crew learn the skills to sail a square-rigged tall ship; including how to navigate, keep watch, cook in the galley, take the helm and climb the 30 metre mast to work aloft, setting and furling sails.
Near the end of the voyage, each youth crew elect a command team who take full responsibility for Young Endeavour for 24 hours, sailing the ship along the Australian coast.
On their last day at sea, the youth crew host a local group of youth with special needs, sharing their new found knowledge and experience.
During each voyage, youth live and work with a diverse range of people from across Australia. They are encouraged to pursue personal and team goals and challenges in an unfamiliar environment as they learn to sail a square-rigged tall ship.
Applications and program information is available at www.youngendeavour.gov.au
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