STUDENTS of Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy are looking forward to launching their new, handmade vessels for the first time on Wednesday, June 12.
The launch, from the slipway at 2.30pm, marks a celebratory end to the students’ 40-week training course and the start of a new chapter in their lives as boat builders.
The flagship 40-week course attracts a wide range of enthusiastic men and women from all walks of life and the current class, who joined in August last year, are a particularly diverse group.
Most hailed from around the UK but the academy also had students from Denmark, Austria and as far as New Zealand. Their backgrounds range from a tree surgeon, a civil engineer, a teaching assistant and a recent school leaver.
For many, the course is the first step on the ladder for a career in the marine industry. In the same vein, some will use their training to aid them in setting up their own businesses. For example, Lukas Schwimann intends to build boats for a living back in Austria after graduating.
However, the 40-week boat building course isn’t just for people wishing to start a new career path; it can also serve as a career break or sabbatical from a demanding job. Some people come to the academy with little or no practical experience and, by lunchtime on the first day, they are at their workbenches.
With such a wide range of people of differing ages and backgrounds, there is no formal skill requirement to join the 40-week course. All the academy asks for is enthusiasm, passion and dedication to the training.
After four months spent developing their joinery and foundation boat building skills, the class move down to the main workshop, ready to start on their boat builds.
The course is designed to teach the vital skills that are needed in today’s changing boat building industry. The seven boats built by the class demonstrate the wide range of construction types and methods they have been working with, including a sea kayak, a traditional and contemporary rowing boat, a speed boat, a clinker sailing boat, a 21’ fishing boat and a sailing tender.