On June 8th, the RSP was delighted to welcome the Searle Family on board Donald Searle for a day sail to celebrate her 40 year anniversary. Operational since 1979, Donald Searle is the longest serving purpose built sail training vessel in the UK run exclusively as a sail training vessel by the same organisation.
To mark the occasion, RSP yachts Merrilyn and Rona II accompanied Doanld Searle on a day sail into Solent and afterwards more than 80 volunteers and supporters attended a party shore side to celebrate the achievements of Donald Searle and to thank those who have sailed on her and supported her and the RSP over the last 40 years. To mark her 40th anniversary, Donald Searle underwent an extensive refit which included new masts and rigging, the cost of which was met by the Searle Family Trust. An extraordinary paint job was undertaken by volunteers with the generous in-kind support of AkzoNobel, RS Components, Brandon Hire, Superyacht Solutions, Airia Compressed Air Solutions, Consumables Express and Carlisle. We are most grateful to everyone who supported the RSP in marking the 40th anniversary of the incredible Sail Training Vessel, Donald Searle and for their continued support to the Rona Sailing Project.
Donald Searle competed in the international Tall Ships Race each year between 1980 and 1991, and successfully completed the 1984 Transatlantic race. This racing role within the Project was then taken over by the Rona II, and since then, Donald Searle has concentrated on sail-training and voyages closer to home. While her crew are mainly young people between the ages of 14-19, Donald Searle has also taken on a very special role of being the primary vessel for a programme of therapeutic voyages run by the RSP. These therapeutic voyages include sailing for adults with diagnosed mental health issues as well as adults with mild to severe learning disabilities, on our ‘Gemini Sailing’ voyages. These therapeutic voyages have been running for more than 20 years and continue to be a very important part of the Projects annual programme.