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Yachtmaster at 22, now round the world as skipper

by Lee Mylchreest on 18 Dec 2011
Lauren Harris .. .
At the age of 22, British sailor Lauren Harris has just passed her yachtmaster exam at the first attempt. But, while that's pretty amazing, that's one of the least amazing things about the University of Chichester student.

For five years ago she and 37 other young people from the Portsmouth area were given the chance to sail Lively Lady, the yacht that was first sailed single-handed around the world in 1968 by Sir Alex Rose, later knighted for his efforts, around the world again.

Then, she and the others were under the guidance of veteran sailor and ocean adventurer Alan Priddy. She loved it so much she is now running the show.

When she spoke to the Portsmouth News this week she had just driven to a children’s home in north Wales where she is ‘earning a bit of money in the holidays’ in the run-up to Christmas.

In term time she is studying Outdoor Adventure Education at Chichester and is bringing some of that knowledge to the children with whom she is working in Wales.

While many very experienced sailor make several unsuccessful attempts before passing their yachtmaster exam, her pass means, that, in theory, she could sail single-handedly around the world.

But what she really wants to do is sail around the world at the helm of Lively Lady, as the skipper of a crew of young people with limited opportunities.

Which is exactly where she came in, given the opportunity to sail with Alan Priddy.

She told Portsmouth News: ‘I had never sailed before – never wanted to and hadn’t even thought about it.

‘Then, one day when I was 14 and working for my silver Duke of Edinburgh Award, I went to a meeting at Paulsgrove and Alan Priddy gave a talk about Lively Lady and his plans to take young people around the world on the yacht.

‘I had never been abroad before, never travelled, let alone done any sailing and it really inspired me.’

She became a graduate of the Raymarine Lively Lady Project which has morphed into www.livelylady.net!Around_and_Around and travel she most certainly did.

She joined the crew for three sections of that famous voyage recreating Sir Alec’s of 1968 – from Fiji to Sydney, Malta to Alicante and helped bring Lively Lady home to Portsmouth from Guernsey.

Lauren says: ‘All of it was absolutely fantastic – the best thing I’ve ever done – but sailing back into Portsmouth, your home port, after such an amazing adventure was something I’ll never forget.

‘Now my dream is to give other young people the same chance that I had when I was their age.’

Now Lauren is spending at least two nights a week and most weekends working on Lively Lady to get her seaworthy again. She’s moored at Port Solent where she has a free berth for life.

‘She needs new decks, new rigging, new sails and a new engine. We’re trying to raise about £200,000 and we’ve got a long way to go, but I’m absolutely determined we can do it. I have no intention of failing.’

It’s that same determination which has seen her shoot from an uncertain teenager who had never set foot on a boat to a young woman with the potential of becoming a top round-the-world sailor.

She says: ‘Sailing on Lively Lady really opened my eyes to the opportunities available to me.

‘It made me realise that it didn’t matter what had happened in my life, if I worked hard enough I could achieve anything.

‘It’s great to be able to show these new young people how their lives can be changed too.’

To learn more about the 'Around and Around' charity sailing project, go to the http://www.livelylady.net/!Lively_Lady_website.

To read more about Portsmouth and surrounds, go to the http://www.portsmouth.co.uk!Portsmouth_News_website.

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