Pier pressure

Recently, Year 7 embarked on their annual residential trip to the world’s premier sailing academy, UKSA. We were all extremely excited for the trip, and having sailed a bit already I knew I how much we had to look forward to in the three days we were spending at UKSA.

When it came to the day of our departure, I was really happy to see all my friends! On the bus we talked a lot about what we thought our first activity might be. We later found out that it said it in our briefing booklet: kayaking was first! After that, we spoke about funny previous experiences regarding kayaks. At the end of the bus journey, we helped our teachers move the bags onto the ferry, which was named the Red Falcon. We had a whole section of the ferry to ourselves! The second ferry we needed to get, the Isle of Wight's chain ferry, wasn’t working, so we travelled the rest of the way on some new coaches.

Oarsome work
Knot concentrating
Thrown in at the deep end

As soon as we arrived at UKSA, we were introduced to the instructors who would look after us for the duration of the trip. We put our bags in our rooms and chose our bunk beds, before racing to a fine lunch of sandwiches, crisps, fruit and chocolate bars. We were all so hungry that we tore through our lunch and, after unpacking in our rooms, we were ready to go kayaking. We chose pairs and dragged the kayaks out onto the bank. To begin with we were taught - on dry land! - how to paddle and what to do if your kayak capsized on the water. Then we went for a little trip up river. Tired after a busy day of travelling and paddling, we had a great dinner of chilli con carne (with tacos). After that we wrapped up warmly and went on a spectacular speedboat ride which showed us the buoys and lights of the harbour, and our instructors explained to us what each one meant.

We started the next morning by trying out keel boating. Excitingly we went out into open sea, learning how to navigate a boat in a harbour, and how not to crash, but also how to measure the speed of the vessel. Swapping between dangling our legs over the side and steering, we took turns to try out important jobs on a boat. Afterwards, we took part in a sea survival course, learning what to do if the boat we were in boat sank, how to increase our chances of being rescued and also how to get into a life raft safely. We also learned how to deal with cold water shock. Then we had pool games and archery.

On our final day at the sailing academy, we tried raft building and learnt how to tie proper knots. Then we tested out our rafts on the open water and, across the board, succeeded in failing to keep our boats from falling apart. After that all that was left was to pack our bags, get our packed lunches and leave.

All in all, the trip was great fun and I hope to return to UKSA at some point in the future. Many thanks to all the staff who helped to organise the trip or who joined us, and also the Sixth Form mentors who accompanied us.