Published: Friday, 7th April 2017

The group of Royal Greenwich trainees will be helping crew the vessels to Portugal.

With just one week to go until the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival 2017 gets underway the local trainees have stepped on board a Tall Ship for the very first time.

Getting on board the Tall Ship Tolkien

Moored at Woolwich Pier, the 30 Tall Ships Sail trainees today boarded the Tolkien, a spectacular 42m long Class A Tall Ship.

The group spoke to the captain and crew and looked around the vessel which is similar to one of the three ships that they will spend 15 nights on board during the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised by Sail Training International.

Their life-changing experience will involve everything from steering at the helm to climbing the rigging, taking watches and charting the ship's progress. They were also able to meet some of their generous sponsors who are funding their voyage - Peabody, U+I, Port of London Authority, Visit Greenwich, London City Cruise Port, MBNA Thames Clippers and our official Charity Partners, Seafarers UK with Sea Cadets.

View pictures of the visit on Facebook

'Experience will broaden their horizons'

Leader of the Royal Borough Councillor Denise Hyland said: "I am delighted that so many local young people from all walks of life will be taking part in this incredible opportunity.

"Many of the trainees have never sailed before and some have never even left the country so this extraordinary experience will truly broaden their horizons and open doors for them going forward."

Councillor Denise Scott-McDonald, Cabinet Member for Culture, Creative Industries and Community Wellbeing, said: "It was inspiring to meet the young sail trainees ahead of the start of their amazing adventure and we would like to thank the sponsors for their generosity.

"I wish the trainees all the best on their trip which I am sure will leave them with new skills and confidence in life."

Over 50 local youngsters, including five looked after children, have been chosen as Tall Ships sail trainees and will be on board one of three ships – the Blue Clipper, Santa Maria Manuela and Caravela Vera Cruz.

Tall Ships Festivals 2017

They will leave London in a stunning parade of sail as the fleet of Tall Ships sets sail on the final day of Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival 2017.

The event takes place over the Easter weekend of 13 to 16 April and will feature more than 30 stunning Tall Ships and a packed entertainment schedule across two festival sites in Greenwich and Royal Arsenal Woolwich.