Volunteers gather for annual reunion

On January 5th, more than 200 volunteers gathered in London for the Rona Sailing Project annual reunion. The magnificent Royal Over-Seas League was the venue for the reunion, where the Board of Trustees and the Project Director addressed those in attendance, highlighting some of the very many successes over the 2018 season. Tributes were paid to volunteers and staff for their incredible contribution and commitment to the Project as well as sponsors and donors. Special awards were given to the Watch Leader and Watch Officer of the Year as well as retiring Skippers.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone for attending the reunion and to the Royal Overseas League for hosting the event.

We wish everyone a very happy and safe 2019 season.

Rona Sailing Project Trustee, Chris Wolley receives RYA Community Lifetime award

We wish to extend our sincere congratulations to Chris Wolley MBE, a Trustee, Skipper and Chief Instructor of the Rona Sailing Project, on receiving a well-deserved RYA Community Lifetime Commitment award. The annual RYA Volunteer awards; the MBE's of sailing recognises the outstanding contributions made by volunteers throughout the UK.

Recipients of the 2018 awards and their guests were invited to a special presentation ceremony and luncheon in London on 16 November. Chris was one of over 50 volunteers from across the country who were recognised for their exceptional dedication and achievements in boating when they received an RYA Volunteer Award. Chris received his award in recognition of his lifelong commitment, on an entirely voluntary basis to The Rona Sailing Project. The awards were presented by HRH The Princess Royal to volunteers across the UK in an awards ceremony held in London.

Chris joined the Project in 1967 as a Trainee, he became a Skipper in 1975 and a Trustee in 1997. We extend our sincere thanks to him for his incredible contribution to the Project since.

You can see a brief video of the awards ceremony here with Chris receiving his award at 1 minute 17 seconds.

2019 programme now open for bookings

We are delighted to confirm that we are now taking bookings and enquiries for the 2019 sailing season. Our calendar is available to view here. All Sail Training Voyage (STV) berths cost only £215.

If you are a group leader and wish to enquire about a group booking please contact us directly to discuss available options. Depending on availability, all three boats can be charted for day sails to week-long voyages, depending on your group’s needs.

Email: ann@ronasailingproject.org.uk or call us on 01489 885098


Rona fleet does well at the 2018 Small Ships Race

In between the thick fog and the gale-force winds the Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) managed to fit in its 15th annual Small Ships Race on Saturday October 6th.

This Cowes based event, on the first Saturday every October, saw 22 sailing vessels crewed by 190 trainees aged between 12 and 24 race West from the Royal Yacht Squadron start line, down to Lymington, and back. Fresh North Westerly winds made for some active sailing. As per tradition, all four of the Rona Sailing Project (RSP) boats took part; Donald Searle, Rona II, Merrilyn and Lady Shona. All the crew were selected from Scott and Amory Award holders from the 2018 season.

The competitive event is for many, the highlight of the sail training season and this was certainly true for the RSP crew who took part. With a total of 63 trainees and Afterguard, the RSP were a force to be reckoned with on and off the water.

For the RSP, the results were fantastic. Rona II came first in class, and received line hours and won the coveted Aurora Trophy, as the overall winner a mere 36 seconds ahead of Maybe. Merrilyn and Donald Searle came 2nd and third in class respectively.

While we are incredibly proud of all of our crew, Afterguard and boats Merrilyn’s participation made RSP history this year as everyone on board was female. Not only that, but all 6 Afterguard: Skipper, Mate, Watch officers and the Watch Leaders started in the Project as trainees. Furthermore, Merrilyn was awarded the Richard Langhorn trophy, ‘for the vessel that best represents the spirit of the race’ for their friendliness, constant singing and keeping up spirits while wet and cold.

The Cowes Small Ships Race is organised by ASTO in partnership with the Royal London Yacht Club and supported by Isle of Wight based organisations including the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes Yacht Haven, Herapath Shenton Trust, RLYC Youth Trust, Cowes Rotary, Delphie Lakeman Trust and others, all of whom the RSP would like to extend sincere thanks.

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 ann@ronasailingproject.org.uk 

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.