Unique British tall ship, Lord Nelson, owned by Southampton-based charity, the Jubilee Sailing Trust, represented the nation’s tall ship fleet at the Royal Australian Navy International Fleet Review in Sydney Harbour yesterday.
The invitation to take part in this weekend’s centenary celebrations for the Royal Australian Navy, attended by HRH Prince Harry, was the catalyst for the ship’s current 50,000-mile, two-year global voyage.
Lord Nelson is one of only two ships in the world that are built to be fully accessible and is sailed by physically disabled and able bodied crew members as equals. The 55-metre square rigger is undertaking the first ever circumnavigation by such a vessel, the Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge, which aims to promote inclusion and equality in each of the 30 ports of call.
Norton Rose Fulbright, which provides the world’s pre-eminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service from offices in more than 50 cities around the world, is supporting this unique global voyage under their banner of “All abilities. All aboard.” The global legal practice supports the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s values of diversity, inclusion and integration.
“This is a truly exciting initiative which brings together people from all walks of life and all physical abilities to sail side by side across the world’s oceans on this extraordinary ship,” said Norton Rose Fulbright in Australia’s Managing Partner, Wayne Spanner.
“Our staff and clients have followed Lord Nelson’s global journey with interest and today we will come together to celebrate the voyage and the ship’s arrival in Sydney.
“The Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge represents our long term commitment to diversity and integration and we are proud to be associated with such a worthwhile cause.”
So far more than 500 people from 25 countries, approximately half of whom are physically disabled and include 54 wheelchair users, have taken part in the journey, which set off from Southampton, UK, in October 2012, riding the wave of the success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Lord Nelson is carrying one of the London 2012 Paralympic torches and a number of international Paralympians, including Sydney 2000 Gold Medallist, Michael McLean, have sailed on board Lord Nelson.
Among those on board for the voyage arriving in Sydney this week was a contingent of Australian Defence Force personnel, as well as representatives of Help For Heroes, the UK charity which works to rehabilitate injured service personnel.
Jubilee Sailing Trust’s CEO, Alex Lochrane, commented, “It is wonderful to see Lord Nelson take her place among the international fleet gathered here in Sydney Harbour. We are incredibly proud of our role representing the UK’s tall ships at this centenary celebration for the Royal Australian Navy. Throughout the last year Lord Nelson has been carrying a message of inclusion and equality and we are thrilled to have been able to give people in all the ports of call the opportunity to sail on board.”
He added, “The emotional reception for Lord Nelson in Australia and the deep interest in the ship and the values of the Trust has been touching and it will be with heavy heart that we leave these shores. However I am sure New Zealanders will give ‘Nellie’ and her crew an equally warm welcome when she arrives in Auckland on 25 October.”
Lord Nelson will take part in the International Tall Ships race from Sydney Harbour to Auckland, departing on 10 October, and will undertake four voyages in New Zealand waters before she sets sail on 15 December to cross the Southern Ocean and round the infamous Cape Horn.
There are just a few spaces remaining on the voyage from Sydney to Auckland for those wishing to be part of the crew sailing into New Zealand waters with Lord Nelson for the first time. Berths are available for both able bodied and physically disabled people for the voyages in New Zealand. A ‘buddy’ system on board pairs able bodied and disabled crew to offer mutual help and support during the passage. The lower age limit is 16 and there is no upper age limit.
No sailing experience is necessary as the permanent crew will give all the training and guidance needed to get the most out of the voyage, whether that is showing a crew member how to climb the rigging, steer the ship or haul on a rope to help set the sails. The ethos on board is to focus on what each person is capable of, rather than what they can’t do.