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A dozen young people from the Western Isles could have a life-changing experience on the high seas, thanks to a link-up between Stornoway Port Authority and the maritime organisation Sail Training International.

The port authority announced yesterday (Tuesday 7 March) that they have fully sponsored 12 placements aboard the tall ship Norwegian sail training vessel Statsraad Lehmkuhl.

Statsraad Lehmkuhl is a three-masted barque with accommodation for up to 140 sail trainees alongside a permanent teaching crew of 30.

The vessel is one of the world’s largest, best maintained and most beautiful sailing ships, owned and run by the Statsraad Lehmkuhl Foundation and in active use on sail training voyages for groups and individuals.

She is sailed in exactly the same way today as she did when she was built 108 years ago, with the manual power of her crew operating 22 sails and many kilometres of ropes.

The main mast rises a full 48 meters above the water’s surface, giving a great view and a wonderful adrenaline rush. Off duty, sailors sleep side by side with shipmates in hammocks, as sailors have done for centuries.

The limited number of fully sponsored placements are being offered to 15 to 25-year-old islanders and will be for the cruise in company leg of Tall Ships 2023, from Fredrikstad in Norway to Lerwick, Shetland.

The Statsraad Lehmkuhl Foundation describes the voyage like this: “The third leg of the 2023 Tall Ships regatta is known as ‘the friendship leg.’

“On this voyage from Fredrikstad to Lerwick the ships do not race each other. We can fully concentrate on sail training, making new friends and participating in social activities.

“At Tall Ships Races, the ships fill up with friendly voyage crews from all over the world. Lehmkuhl has several times been awarded the prize for the highest number of different nationalities on board.

“The philosophy behind this traditional regatta is to teach young people to sail and create friendships across borders. Do not worry if you have no experience with sailing, Lehmkuhl’s friendly and experienced crew will teach you everything you need to know.” 

The twelve selected Western Isles participants will need to be available between 16 and 29 July (13 nights) and to be 25 or under at the time of travel. You also need a valid passport.

A spokesperson for SPA said: “Sail training is an adventure you will remember for the rest of your life. We very much welcome applications from all abilities and backgrounds. 

“Absolutely no sailing experience is needed to take part, just a keen sense of adventure and a willingness to try something new.”

The application procedure is now open, with full details of how to participate at

Applications close on 31 March and you can find out more about the voyage itself at

The images show the full Tall Ships itinerary for 2023, students learning the ropes and the Statsraad Lehmkuhl in full sail, and are from