Sailing adventure bringing ‘life changing’ opportunities returns after covid restrictions


Our Isles Our Oceans new crew spending week on Clipper yacht sailing out of Oban

An organisation providing funded training opportunities alongside one of the biggest challenges in the world, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, will return this Spring to deliver further programmes on the West Coast of Scotland. Our Isles and Oceans launched in June and has already seen forty young people go through its training and development programme.

The Our Isles and Oceans mission statement is ‘Youth Opportunity and Professional Development for Sustainable Livelihoods’. The initiative intends on, through the vehicle of sport and business, providing a variety of opportunities for personal and professional development for young people through activities and partnerships with sustainable, educational and adventure organisations and enterprises.

Our Isles and Oceans is privately funded and was created in response to the employment difficulties faced by people in the 18–35-year age bracket because of the pandemic and lockdown. The programmes within the organisation focus on building confidence and resilience, finding opportunities and creating a community where mentorship, advice and support is at the core.

As the first new British Team Entry in the Clipper 2023-24 Race, Our Isles and Oceans will race alongside 10 other yachts in a circumnavigation around the world. Through the programme those who have taken part in the initial sailing training will then be able to apply to secure a funded position on the 2023-24 race, a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Gordon Ritchie, Managing Director of Our Isles and Oceans, says:

“We are training young people for one of the biggest adventures in their life where we will be looking to create a winning racing team with competitive sailors who have gone through our own training programme. The Clipper Race is a fantastic ocean race to be part of as it provides a unique opportunity for business and networking, and we intend on promoting our message of opportunity on the global stage as we cross the race start line.”

Elizabeth Balmer, 27 from Largs, suffered with long-covid for over a year and took part in the Our Isles and Oceans programme this summer. She said:

“I had a really tough time during the pandemic, I got covid in March 2020 and suffered with long covid for over a year spending seven months in bed. This was my chance to get back out there.

“Having the opportunity to immerse myself with people, after being scared to get covid again and losing my confidence has been really special. The fact that I’ve managed to do it, I feel like I’m finally back and I’ve recovered.”

With young people being particularly impacted over the last couple of years, Our Isles and Oceans Founders, David Stewart Howitt and Anthony Stodart, hope this new programme will continue to make a positive change in young people’s lives.

“We are really excited to be heading into our second season of programmes for 18-35yr olds who need a hand getting the ladder of life re-erected after the last two years. I can’t wait to welcome them on board once again.

“Our Isles and Oceans offers applicants the chance to learn from experienced professionals and to push themselves outside their comfort zone to equip them for the challenges of today’s marketplace.

“The success of the first programme this summer, the ambassadors coming off the programme with smiles on their faces, makes all the hard work worthwhile. We want to encourage young people to get back out there, to live their lives and we hope we’re giving back after all the sacrifices they have made since the pandemic begun.”

Our Isles and Oceans is once more looking for individuals who want to make a change in their lives and who might never have the opportunity to learn to sail, or to become part of a unique community such as this. Applications are now open on their website at