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Teen swaps 420s for Brigantine

by Young Endeavour 29 Mar 2019 23:38 PDT
Crew member Henry Johnston prepares the main sail aboard the STS Young Endeavor as the ship sails on Sydney Harbour for Australia Day © ABIS Shane Cameron

Sailing on a 40 metre tall ship is a little different to sail an international 420, So when Sandringham Yacht Clun awarded Henry Johnstone a Young Endeavour Scholarship funded by the Melbourne to Osaka Yacht Race, the 17 year old jumped at the chance.

Henry is in the Victorian 420 team joined the ship in Melbourne, and as part of a 27 strong youth crew, had to meet all the challenges of sailing a square rigged tall ship.

Over the 11-day voyage the youth crew learnt how to navigate, keep watch, cook in the galley, set and furl sails, climb the 30 metre mast and take the helm. For the final leg of the voyage, the youth crew elected a command team who had to sail the ship into her final destination, Sydney.

With over 10 years sailing experience, Henry was already up to speed with sail theory and helming, however he said there were some new skills to acquire.

"The biggest difference between the 420s and Young Endeavour are the square sails and the size. Young Endeavour is 40 metres long and has a steel hull, so it's obviously a lot heavier," Henry said.

The brigantine boasts a total sail span of 740 square metres, compared to the 420s downwind sail area of 19 square metres.

"On board Young Endeavour, you work in large teams and everything is done by hand. This develops your teamwork and leadership skills," Henry said.

"At Sandringham Yacht Club I instruct and coach, so I'll definitely take back some ideas about how to work cohesively in a large team.

Aside from picking up new skills, Young Endeavour is an adventure. Henry said he had a few highlights.

"I went into the voyage knowing it was different to what I was used to. I've been pretty consistent with my training for the 420s, so it's been really good to shake things up. I've found it really interesting."

"I loved climbing the mast. We did it the first night in Melbourne and I really enjoyed checking out the city skyline," Henry said.

"I also loved helming. We had a lightening storm that I helmed through which was pretty crazy."

So would Henry recommend a voyage on Young Endeavour to other young sailors?

"It's definitely something that other young people would benefit from. It's not just the sailing, the program is over 30 years old and they've got in nailed down to a precise art. Everyone on board really enjoyed it and got a lot out of the trip."

"Getting to know everyone on board and experiencing communal living was also heaps of fun," Henry said.

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