ASTO Patron HRH The Countess of Wessex sails with The Rona Sailing Project

The Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) Patron HRH The Countess of Wessex and her daughter Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor joined the crew of Donald Searle for a day sail in the Solent on Monday 6th of August. 

The Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise, 14, teamed up with a crew of teenage girls from across the UK and Ireland who were on a week-long sailing adventure on our  75-ft ketch.

ASTO President Rear Admiral John Lang, who welcomed the Royal party at Haslar Marina said: “We’re delighted that our Patron HRH The Countess of Wessex and her daughter Lady Louise could join one of our member vessels today to see first hand the great work done by one of the many Sail Training organisations that offer programmes across the UK. The Rona Sailing Project is one amongst many vessel operators who work tirelessly to widen the horizons and self confidence of young people from all backgrounds and abilities through their Sail Training activities.”

Donald Searle set sail from Haslar Marina in Gosport on Monday morning and everybody on board, including the Royal crew mates, got involved in hauling the sails and helming during their day sail in light airs under glorious August sunshine. All crew and volunteers on board had a great day on the water.  

One of the trainees sailing on board Donald Searle was Hannah McKenzie, 19, from Glasgow  said “It’s been a really great day and having our special guests on board reinforced the amazing experience we’ve been having over the last few days. The great thing about Sail Training is working together with people from all different backgrounds and bonding together as a team.

“I didn’t used to cope well in large groups and kept to myself, but Sail Training has given me so much more confidence and social skills, which has really helped for interviews and at University.”

For Donald Searle’s skipper Bill Jermey, 69, the visit was particularly special as this is his final voyage with the Rona Sailing Project before he retires, having first sailed with the organisation as a trainee aged 15. Since 1989 he has volunteered with the charity and has sailed as skipper for the last 25 years.

Rona II does well in Leg 1 Tall Ships Race 2018

The Rona Sailing Project is proud to share the news that Rona II and her crew have won third in class in the Tall Ships Race Leg 1 from Sunderland to Esbjerg. The all boy crew, under the command of  Skipper Steve Burgess and Mate Mark Taylor, were chosen to participate in the race having received an Amory Award for 'giving of their best' on their 2017 Sail Training Voyage. They clearly gave of their best again, had a great time and are bringing a cup home. 

Very well done to all crew and Afterguard on board. We look forward to updating you on the progress of the all girl Race Leg 2.

Stage 3rd in Class.jpg

Warsash Sailing Club continue to support the RSP

For the third year in a row, the Rona Sailing Project has been chosen as the Commodore's Charity for the Thursday evening pursuit series. In addition to the entry fee which is to be donated to the RSP at the end of the series, there was a cash collection, to which club members donated most generously.

As a volunteer-based organisation, we very much appreciate being chosen as the Commodore's Charity, and to receive such overwhelming support from the committee and club members. 

We have identified a group of young people from Hampshire who will benefit directly from generosity from the proceeds. 

The Project Director would like to extend sincere thanks to everyone involved in the Thursday evening pursuit series, and wishes all participants the best of luck.

Parker Bullen Solicitors make donation to the RSP

We are most grateful to Parker Bullen Solicitors for making a very generous donation to the RSP. The donation will be used to sponsor young people to sail with us in the 2018 season.

Donations such as this one are vital to enable us to give young people the opportunity to experience sail training, and have an experience of a life time that they may otherwise miss out on. 

Many thanks to everyone at Parker Bullen.

If you would like to make a donation to the RSP to sponsor young people to sail, please call us on 01489 885098 or email 

The Royal Southern Yacht Club Charity launch grant programme

The Royal Southern Yacht Club (RSYC) Charity have launched their 2018 grant programme. If you have booked a berth to sail with us, and need assistance with the voyage fee it is worth considering making an application. The RSYC Charity is a great supporter of the Rona Sailing Project and is very keen to help young people get on the water.

If you haven't yet booked a berth - you can do so and apply for the grant. Please get in contact with us if you need further information or advice on completing the application form. 

You can apply for up to 50% of the total voyage fee and the application process is very straight forward: 

Follow this link for more information and to download the application form:

Rona II awarded MCA/ASTO vessel of the year

We were very proud to pick up the award for sail training vessel of the year for Rona II at the annual ASTO conference held at the Solent University Conference Centre on Friday 26th of January.

It was awarded to the Rona Sailing Project for ‘fulfilling both the Sail Training aspirations of ASTO and the seamanship and safety requirements of the MCA’. The highlight of 2017 was the very successful Transatlantic Regatta, which was the result of more than 2 years of hard work and planning by many volunteers and crew, of whom the RSP is very proud. 

Rona II was recognised as one of the hardest working and most resilient of sail training yachts in the world. She has taken more than 7,200 young people sailing, has completed 21 International and 4 Transatlantic Tall Ships Campaigns and has run more than 265,000nm in her career to date. We remain incredibly proud of what our volunteers and crew have achieved on Rona II, which continues to take so many people to sea on life-changing voyages. We look forward to many more years of operating Rona II. 

If you would like the opportunity to sail on her in 2018 please visit our Voyage calendar online, or call the office on 01489 885098 for more information on other opportunities to sail with the RSP.

 Project Shipwright Mark Norman and Project Director BrId Barrett collecting the MCA/ASTO Vessel of the Year award at the annual Association of Sailing Training Organisations (ASTO) conference, held in Southampton.

Project Shipwright Mark Norman and Project Director BrId Barrett collecting the MCA/ASTO Vessel of the Year award at the annual Association of Sailing Training Organisations (ASTO) conference, held in Southampton.

More than 200 Volunteers attend the annual RSP reunion

The Trustees of the Rona Sailing Project were delighted to welcome more than 200 enthusiastic volunteers to the Project's Annual Reunion. Held on January 6th at the Royal Overseas League in London, the Annual Reunion is one of the highlights of the RSP Calendar, drawing volunteers of all ranks to celebrate the fantastic achievements of the Project over the 2017 season and to plan and prepare for upcoming 2018 season.

Awards were also given to some volunteers for outstanding volunteerism in 2017 and long service to those who have given 25 and 40 years to the Rona Sailing Project. As a volunteer-based organisation, we depend on the dedicated service of so many people and we were very happy that so many dedicated volunteers attended this great event, and we extend our thanks to them and all RSP volunteers. 

We wish everyone a safe and happy sailing season.


Crew feedback

2017 was a great season for the Rona Sailing Project, with Rona II and her crew of 16-25 year olds participating in the epic Transatlantic Tall Ships Race, visiting Portugal, the Canaries, Bermuda, Canada, America and France. Closer to home not only was a full Sail Training Voyage programme run on Donald Searle and Merrilyn, visiting ports on the South Coast of England, France and the Channel Islands, volunteers and crew also visited Ireland and participated in the ASTO Small Ships race.

The Rona Sailing Project asks all trainees to complete a Feedback Form at the end of their voyages. There are various questions, which we use with a view to getting better at what we do. However we are particularly proud that 99% say that they would recommend the Project to a friend, and 98% that they have made new friends.

If you or someone you know would like to sail with the RSP - please contact us for details or on 01489 885098


Rona Sailing Project does well at the ASTO Small Ships Race

The annual Small Ships organised by ASTO was held in Cowes on Saturday 7th of October.  While the race is highly competitive, prizes are also awarded for the best dressed crew and the Spirit of the Race which makes the event a lot of fun for all the young people taking part.

Four of the 22 vessels taking part this weekend were from the Rona Sailing Project. Crewed by 14-19 year old Scott and Amory Award holders from the 2017 season, Lady Shona, Merrilyn, Rona II and Donald Searle certainly were a force to be reckoned with.

Jake Carter, who skippered Lady Shona won the youngest skipper award, while Merrilyn and Donald Searle skippered by Jim Clarke and Steve Burgess respectively both won third in their class. Merrilyn also got a prize for the youngest combined crew.

Rona II, skippered by Bill Jermey was not only 1st in class but also was the first boat home to win line honours. Very many congratulations and well done to all the RSP crew and Afterguard, who did themselves and us very proud.

The RSP would also like to thank ASTO for organising on such a fantastic event and for their continued support to the Sail Training Organisations in the UK. We are already look forward to the 2018 Small Ships Race