New first and second mates have taken charge of Spirit of Outward Bound, the 67-foot Challenge class yacht, Sai Kung’s Donovan Chow said.
They are Alex Rush, a Briton, and Himson Wong from Hong Kong. Don, who was born and bred in Sai Kung, heads OB’s Spirit department as manager. In the crew too is another local lad, Berman Young, a former Ji Fun bosun and qualified skipper.
The Spirit’s crew does sail-training in Hong Kong waters and on blue-water voyages to countries such as Taiwan and the Philippines. The skipper has to be well-qualified, Don said. Alex, 23, holds the Royal Yachting Association’s yacht master offshore certificate, while Himson has passed the grade one certificate required for Hong Kong pleasure vessel operators.
On the steel-hulled ex-BT Challenge yacht, which has raced around the world twice, the crew gives youngsters many days of rigorous training at sea. Often they are young offenders referred by the Correctional Services Department or rehabilitating drug addicts. They also run eight-day sea courses for 18-25 year olds looking for direction in life when they finish school. These courses in July and August are open for enrollment.
“We put people in tough conditions so they can learn to deal with adversity,” Don said. “They discover strengths they didn’t know they had.”
Don and Himson have both come up through the training system of Outward Bound rising to instructor. A local boy, Don got his first sail training with the Hebe Haven Yacht Club, later attaining qualifications overseas and becoming a skipper of OB’s 30-foot ketches.
The Spirit’s crew of four — two are general instructors — train 12 young men and women at a time on coastal trips typically lasting eight to eighteen days. Longer voyages are made once a year to, say, the Philippines when one group will go through testing times as they sail south and another lot as the yacht heads for home.