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.