“Le Sailing Voyage” is a development programme for young people aged 13-15 from Boulogne and Shepway secondary schools, supported by Shepway District Council and its counterpart in Boulogne sur Mer. The programme uses sailing and water sports as a conduit to encourage cross border cooperation, develop linguistic skills and cultural ties and to teach team building. The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust has made grants towards each of the programmes in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
The programme mixes a number of weekend workshops, enabling novice sailors to literally “learn the ropes”, and including activities such as raft building, essential sailing skills and first aid. It is designed to improve self-esteem and to foster open mindedness and team spirit. This then leads to a residency on board a training ship travelling between Folkestone and Boulogne, visiting various harbours en route, including Folkestone and Boulogne, timed to arrive in Boulogne as part of the town’s Sea Festival in July.
In each of the programmes, which are arranged every two years, up to sixty students from French and English schools have taken part, with many commenting that their language skills had improved significantly as a result, further remarking that it had been an “unforgettable experience…..teaches you a lot about sailing,……friendships, teamwork and self-confidence”.