Young Endeavour regatta crew experience rough seas

IT wasn't all smooth sailing for Avenue Range's Cristy Thomas when she joined the STS Young Endeavour regatta crew in October.

Racing from Sydney to Auckland, the tall ship went through a couple of storms with 60 knot winds and swells of up to 5m.

"Trying to do everyday activities in swell takes a lot longer but it got everyone's adrenalin pumping," Cristy said.

"The whole atmosphere was very exciting...waves were going over the ship and drenching everyone."

Despite the rocky weather, Cristy said going through it was a great team building experience and brought the youth crew of 24 together a bit more.

"We had a common goal all voyage but I think the storms made us realise just how important it was to work together."

After the storms had passed the group, which was supported by 11 Navy crew, spent the rest of the two weeks on board in sunny weather before the conditions turned dead calm.

The ship came to a standstill and didn't move for a day or two. In fact, the top speed it reached the whole journey was just 12.1 knots.

"This was when we retired from the race so we could turn our engines on and make it to New Zealand in time for the ceremonies," Cristy said.

"Seven ships participated - we were the only Australian competitor - and only three ended up finishing.

"A couple had rigging damage and the others knew they wouldn't make it in time so retired."

When everyone arrived in Auckland they were given an official Maori welcome before celebrations kicked off.

This was the second time Cristy had been involved with the Young Endeavour after sailing on the training ship from Sydney to Hobart last year.

She said it was the best thing she had ever done and encouraged others to apply for future sails.

"It was such an incredible experience. I strongly recommend anyone seeking adventure to apply to the Young Endeavour. 

"It also offers sponsorship berths - it would be good to see some local businesses get behind the youth scheme and sponsor some locals to get on board."

Being part of the Young Endeavour youth crew is a unique experience which develops skills for life.

Participants set the sails, climb the mast, navigate using the ship's charts and gain the confidence to take command.

The program is operated by a professional Royal Australian Navy crew who ensure high standards of safety and care and teach the youth crew everything they need to know to sail a tall ship.

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