#TallShips - "An Atlantic legacy for future generations" is how the Atlantic Youth Trust describes its concept for a proposed new tall ship that would bring young people from both sides of the border for sail training voyages.
The €17.2m plans, devised as a legacy youth project in the wake of Belfast's recent hosting of the Tall Ships Races, involve the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland governments supporting a single youth development tall ship.
The purpose-built vessel would provide over 1,000 youth development places each year for the expected 30-year lifespan of the ship, at which point a replacement would be found or a major refit of the existing vessel would extend its ocean-going life.
While only recently made public, the Atlantic Youth Trust says it has been tailoring its plans for three years - modelled primarily on the Spirit of Adventure Trust in New Zealand, which has a 40-year legacy of delivering "academically proven youth development voyages on a steel-hull tall ship".
Fundamental to its success, the trust adds, has been the integration various cultures through its sailing voyages.
“The tasks and chores while living on a tall ship are directly transferable back to dry land, hence education systems around the world endorse such activities," says Dr Gerard O’Hare DL CBE, Tall Ships Belfast chairman and Atlantic Youth Trust trustee.
"From cooking and cleaning, to navigating and climbing the rigging, each activity requires teamwork and resilience to succeed. This is why it’s so important we leave a lasting, tangible, legacy to the event.”
The Atlantic Youth Trust claims it is understood both governments in Dublin and Stormont are working towards making a pledge of funds, assuming the remainder will be met through Peace IV, corporate and philanthropic donations.
The total required to build a modern, safe, steel vessel is £12m (€17.2m). The operational budget of £1.4m (€2m) will be met through voyage fees, corporate and philanthropic support, and tapping into existing state funding streams in areas such as cross community work, maritime education, youth justice, summer camps and reconciliation.
The trust adds that "Northern Ireland Inc" is being asked to back the project in what may result in "a cocktail of capital funding from private and public sources to ensure the opportunity is not missed".