Main Menu

Sail Training and Rotary (STAR)

“Sail Training and Rotary,” or “STAR,” is our initiative to promote exciting and helpful collaborations between Rotary International and sail training. As a trainee, getting involved with STAR can provide you with fantastic opportunities to gain support for your sail training voyage.

Sail Training International and Rotary International share common aims: encouraging youth development, and supporting international friendship and understanding.

So, how can Rotary International can help you take part in an adventure under sail? Keep reading to find out.

Rotary International, also known as “Rotary,” is one of the largest humanitarian service organisations in the world. There are more than 34,000 local Rotary clubs in 200 countries and territories worldwide, with around 1.2 million members.

“Through our network of resources and partners, we help clubs focus their service efforts in promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies.”

Rotary International

Rotary International was formed in 1905, and its relationship with sail training has existed for more than 40 years. In 1972, the Rotary Club of Toronto, Canada, funded the purchase of the engine for the Toronto Brigantines’ vessel Playfair.

In 2005, another notable landmark sail training and Rotary collaboration took place. Eight Rotary clubs in and around Fredrikstad, Norway, joined forces to give 25 young people the chance to sail on board Christian Radich in the Tall Ships Races 2005. The trainees took part in the second leg of the event, from Newcastle, UK, to Fredrikstad. At the same time, this group of Rotary clubs also helped to recruit more than 100 additional young trainees for the race.

In 2010, the Rotary Club of Cleveland, Ohio, USA, became the Cleveland Port Organiser for the American Sail Training Association’s (now Tall Ships America) Great Lakes Tall Ships Challenge Series®. This was part of the Cleveland club’s 100th anniversary commemorative project.

Today, the Rotary Club of Cleveland runs Project YESS (Youth Empowered to Succeed through Sailing), which provides educational trips for high school students aged 14-17. Its aim is to develop character, leadership, life, and career skills through sail training.

If you’d like to be considered for Rotary funding to help cover the costs of sail training, or to build a lasting relationship with Rotary for your sail training organisation, it’s important to start building a relationship with your local club early.

On 1 July each year, the funding objectives of all Rotary clubs and districts change, so it’s best to plan ahead by several months.

Rotary clubs accept new members by invitation only. But don’t worry, there are plenty of options available to you. Let’s explore how you can work with Rotary International to gain support for your adventure under sail.

Personal contact is always the best way to develop a STAR relationship. So, find out whether your local National Sail Training Organisation (NSTO) includes Rotary members, or ask your family or friends whether they belong to a Rotary club. Once you’ve done this, you can ask a Rotary club member to refer you as a new member.

Don’t know any existing Rotary club members? Check out the Rotary International Club Finder to locate a local club and get in touch.

Rotary clubs are always looking for speakers with new and interesting subjects for their weekly meetings. So, why not ask your local club whether you can talk about your proposed sail training voyage, or about your sail training organisation and how Rotary Clubs and Rotarians can become involved?

Find a local club using the Rotary International Club Finder. Clubs usually list a phone number, email address, or web page, with officers’ contact details. Try to get in touch with the Programme Chair, as he or she can help you arrange your visit and presentation.

Consider the following:

  • Ask about the club dress code before you visit – don’t arrive in jeans and a t-shirt if business clothing is required.
  • Arrive early – there’s usually time for fellowship before the meeting, when you’ll have the opportunity to meet key club members.
  • Prepare a bright, colourful presentation that shows how you (and others) would benefit from taking part in a sail training adventure. You can find images to use here
  • Don’t run over your time slot – practise your timing beforehand.
  • Bring printed material about your voyage or potential vessel.
  • Do not ask for financial contributions – this is strictly prohibited unless it has been agreed beforehand.
  • After you’ve established a relationship with members, you can let them know that you would like to be considered for a club or district grant at some time in the future.

Check out the past STAR collaborations – we’d love to hear about yours.

  • 1972 – The Toronto Brigantines received funding for the engine of Playfair from the Rotary club of Toronto.
  • 1990s onwards – The Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), operators of the tall ships Lord Nelson and Tenacious (both of which are specifically designed to accommodate disabled sail trainees), has a two decade history of STAR partnership with Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. Nearly 800 RIBI Rotary clubs have joined up with JST to help subsidise disabled trainees. As a component of their STAR collaboration, the JST also participates in a Rotary sail and lunch at the Royal Yacht Squadron on the Isle of Wight, UK, on a regular basis.
  • 2002 – The Rotary Club of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, sponsored a youth group on board the barque Europa in the 2002 ASTA Tall Ships Challenge® on the Pacific Coast.
  • 2005 – Rotary clubs in and around Fredrikstad, Norway (Rotary District 2260) sponsored 25 young trainees aboard the Norwegian vessel Christian Radich. They also found sponsors for nearly 100 others on board vessels for the 2005 STI Tall Ships’ Race from Newcastle, UK, to Fredrikstad. A working group of Rotarians from Rotary District 2260 continues to promote the STAR relationship in anticipation of providing financial assistance to young trainees sailing in the Tall Ships Races calling at Norwegian ports.
  • 2006 – Sail Training International partnered with the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians to staff a booth at the Rotary International Convention in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • 2007 – The Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI) began offering tours of its twin brigantines. This was in conjunction with annual visits by members of the Rotary Club of Los Angeles to the Port of Los Angeles. During the tours, Rotarians receive information regarding LAMI’s award-winning TopSail Youth Program.
  • 2008 – Sail Training International, in partnership with sail training organisations and race ports, financed and staffed a booth at the Rotary International Convention in Los Angeles, California.
  • 2008 – The International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians chartered the Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s twin brigantines Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson for their Post Convention Cruise.
  • 2009 – After receiving the first ever grant from the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians, 14 young people from around the world sailed with the Italian Navy’s brigantine Nave Italia (ex Swan Fan Makkum) for a voyage from Civitavecchia, Italy, to Corsica, to participate in the youth portion of a G8 Summit meeting.
  • 2009 – The Rotary Club of Cuckfield and Lindfield, UK, teamed up with the Tall Ships Youth Trust to sponsor young people on voyages aboard Stavros S Niarchos. Each entity contributed 40 per cent of the cost and each individual participant paid 20 percent.
  • 2010 – The Rotary Club of Cleveland, Ohio, USA, as its 100th anniversary project, was the City of Cleveland Port Organiser for the American Sail Training Association (now Tall Ships America) Great Lakes Tall Ships Challenge Series®.
  • 2010 – The Rotary Club of Cleveland, through its club charitable foundation, created Project YESS (Youth Empowered to Succeed through Sailing) in a collaboration with the Erie, Pennsylvania, USA vessel Niagra, as an ongoing programme to provide sail training adventures for youth.
  • 2010 – The Newport Harbour, California, fleet of the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians chartered a brigantine operated by the Los Angeles Maritime Institute for a harbour cruise and wine tasting. This will be repeated in 2012.
  • 2010 – The International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians grant program partially funded several projects involving sail training vessels. These included: IYFR and its Italian fleets provided funds for desalinators for Nave Italia and for a day at sea for youth with disabilities; IYFR and the Newport Harbour, California fleet funded a sail training experience aboard a Los Angeles Maritime Institute vessel for Rotary Youth Exchange students from seven countries; IYFR and the San Francisco, California fleet provided a three day sail training and marine biology experience for 10 La Paz, Mexico teenagers aboard the Sausalito, California based schooner Seaward, operated by Call of the Sea.
  • 2012 – The Nibe Rotary club and the Aalborg City Rotary club, both in Denmark, organised a Sail Training Marine Camp for 30 Rotary long-term Youth Exchange Students from all continents. During the six-day voyage, they were trained on board the barkentine Loa ( homeport Aalborg, Denmark). Every evening the ship visited a new harbour and attended receptions at local Rotary Clubs. In Aalborg, the lord mayor hosted a formal reception at the harbour front. A short video about the tour in 2012 is available at
  • 2013 – In 2013, the Danish Sail Training Marine Camp took place again with 35 Rotary Youth Exchange students. Six harbours in Denmark were visited over six days. A short video from the 2013 sailing expedition (with English introduction) is available at
  • 2014 ­– The Danish Sail Training Marine Camp for Rotary Youth Exchange will be repeated aboard the barkentine Loa of Aalborg Denmark. It will be announced as a STAR collaboration project.

Do you have any questions about STAR, Rotary International or how you can get involved or receive support? Feel free to get in touch with our STI Rotary Liaisons:

  • Hal Barstow, a member of the Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa California.
  • Bjørn Jørstad, a member and Past President of the Rotary Club of Onsøy, Norway.
  • Knut Western, director of Tall Ships Races Europe, Sail Training International.

Check out the for more information.