A crew of military veterans are set to return to Falmouth this weekend after a 2,000-mile tall ship voyage around the UK coast.

They have battled strong winds, rough seas and undertaken hours of complex repairs after their engine gave up on them.

But now the on Turn to Starboard Round Britain Challenge team are preparing to celebrate as they approach the finishing line.

A total of  38 veterans – many with little or no sailing experience – have taken part in the voyage since the 92ft-long tall ship Spirit of Falmouth left Falmouth on 1 June, accompanied by two support yachts.

The Spirit of Falmouth at Newcastle’s City Marina – one of the ports on the Round Britain Challenge route

The Spirit of Falmouth at Newcastle’s City Marina

After spending two months sailing in an anti-clockwise direction around the British Isles, one of the crews will be sailing into Falmouth in Cornwall on Sunday, July 31.

Fourteen veterans are set to complete the whole voyage with the rest completing shorter sections of the route, along with beneficiaries of the Prince’s Trust and a documentary film crew.

The expedition has been organised by Turn to Starboard founder and former RAF squadron leader Shaun Pascoe, to help participants gain new skills while raising awareness of the challenges some veterans face after leaving the military.

Shaun said: ‘The aim of the Round Britain Challenge is to help participants re-engage, reintegrate and gain new skills. Our incredible crew has overcome significant challenges along the route and has shown resilience in every situation.

‘Many have gained valuable sailing miles as part of their training for Yachtmaster qualifications, whereas others set themselves a personal challenge as they battle with their own issues after Service life. We are looking forward to arriving back home in Falmouth and to a well earned rest!’

The challenge is sponsored by AkzoNobel’s International coatings brand, and also supported by The Endeavour Fund.

The tall ship and support yachts have stopped at ports such as the Isle of Wight, Newcastle, and the Orkney Islands along the route. In Liverpool, the crew were invited to berth outside Merseyside Maritime Museum in celebration of a new exhibition marking 250 years of the Pilotage Service.

Crew members enjoying a welcome break on the Round Britain Challenge

Crew members enjoying a welcome break on the Round Britain Challenge

The crew greeted residents at the In Safe Hands: The Story of the Liverpool Pilots exhibition and played a part in telling the story of the Liverpool pilots and their vital role in navigating ships in and out of the port.

International paint spokesman Stuart Melville said: ‘This has been a fantastic challenge for such a worthy charity and we are delighted to have been supporting the team throughout the journey. Our team has been offering advice and support along the way to ensure the boat is in top condition and the team have had all they need to conquer the challenge. We are looking forward to meeting them as they complete the challenge and arrive back in Falmouth.’

People are invited to donate by ‘buying’ a mile of the expedition for £10.

 

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