Growing up, Alice Legate had a love for the outdoors unlike most other children she knew. At just six years old, the youngster followed in the footsteps of her older brother and sister and joined the Burton Venture Trust, not knowing then that she would one day embark on a voyage across one of the world’s largest oceans.

Being a member of the group almost her entire life, Alice, now 22, developed a special interest in sailing.

Throughout her time at the club, she enthusiastically learnt how to sail dingy boats. Once the University of Derby graduate had been at the Venture Trust long enough to become a staff member, her mentor and Burton's MP Andrew Griffiths helped find her sponsorship with the Rona Sailing Project in Southampton in 2013, an organisation which gives young people the opportunity to sail a yacht on the sea.

At 18, Alice received the Armory Award from the Rona Sailing Project for her first sailing trip, something which is awarded annually to those who are keen about sailing and wish to do more with the sport.

With her award in hand, Alice was able to enter a Tall Ships race which saw her travel across many European countries such as Denmark and Norway.

After a successful voyage, she was then able to progress onto applying to enter Tall Ships' prestigious 'Rendez-Vous 2017' race, something the then teenager had always wished to pursue.

Alice has loved sailing since she was six-years-old
Alice has loved sailing since she was six-years-old

Organised by Sail Training International, the Tall Ships Races sees young sailors embark on multiple long-trip races across the world. To enter into the Rendez-Vous, sailors must have completed a Tall Ships race before.

Successful applicants fly out to Portugal and begin their voyage at Sines before finishing in Bermuda. Fifteen boats take part in the race, coming from countries all across the world.

Alice, from Swadlincote, entered a selection process in order to be chosen as one of the lucky 31 girls embarking on the trip. A few days after applying, Alice received some news that would change her life forever.

Said Alice: "I was up against a lot of other girls wanting to do the race, and knowing I might have been doing it too was exciting and scary. When I found out I had actually been selected, it was amazing.

"I can’t describe it. It was fantastic. The thought that I was going to be sailing was amazing, but at the same time, preparing and leading up the race was scary, knowing what we were going to endure."

Alice and her crewmates
Alice and her crew mates

When Alice found out she had secured a place on the girls' team, she had just six months to raise £1,800 to cover the costs of donations towards the sailing organisation and crew expenses.

Before she graduated this year, Alice had been a student at the University of Derby where she studied graphic design.

To help raise the money she needed, she designed and sold nautical-themed Christmas cards which she sold to friends and family.

Alice was successful in her fund-raising and, when the big day finally arrived, it was time to fly to Lisbon to set sail on the voyage of a lifetime.

It took the group of girls, aged between 16 and 24, a week to travel to Gran Canaria via their journey to Bermuda, where they were granted a 48-hour layover to gather food and supplies and prepare the boat as the sails had ripped due to difficult weather situations.

From Gran Canaria it took the girls three intense weeks to travel to Bermuda, where Alice was met with multiple challenges along the way.

Said Alice: "I struggle quite a lot with seasickness so I came prepared with patches and tablets, but we were all being sick."

The crew are pictured navigating the boat
The crew are pictured navigating the boat

"Then we had issues with the giant sail in the middle of the boat. The rope that holds it up kept falling on us all while we were throwing up, and we couldn’t figure out what was happening because it was so dark."

Brave Alice then took it upon herself to take control of the situation. In the pitch black night, in the middle of the ocean, Alice jumped up and fixed the sail so her and her team could continue their trip across the seas.

She said: "It was pure adrenaline and the team spirit that got me through it. The trip changed my life forever. I think the biggest thing is I have that 'can do' attitude now, so when things get me down or if I'm scared about applying for something, I think: 'I crossed that Atlantic, I can do this! I am mentally strong and I can do other things!'"

Alice said that one of her favourite aspects of the trip was going without her phone or social media for the entire five weeks she was away.

She said: "You learn about yourself being mentally strong and learning to communicate with other things aside from your phone."

The 22-year-old was limited in what she could take on board and was restricted to a 20kg luggage allowance.

In the meantime, Alice was able to learn many new life skills. Aside from developing new skills in sailing, such as learning rope work and specialist knots, she was able to learn how to be patient while living in very close quarters with 20 other girls.

Once the crew arrived to Bermuda, they had six days to explore before they headed back to the UK. The team came second in the race before Germany as anxious family and friends tracked their pace back home.

She said: "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I made lots of friends and it’s something quite unique. I will keep the memories forever and it’s something I’ll never forget."

Alice remembers a special moment when her and her crew mates were swimming in the ocean.

Alice said: "When we swum in the Atlantic, there was no-one around for several miles. We saw a whale and it is something I will remember for the rest of my life."

Since graduating last month, Alice has plans to go back to volunteering at the Rona Sailing Project in Southampton where she will take weekly trips to teach other young people how to sail.

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