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Fastnet yacht race: State school Greig City Academy finishes

From BBC - August 11, 2017

After five days at sea, a team of inner-city teenagers have made history as the only crew from a comprehensive school known to have finished the world's largest offshore sailing race.

The crew, from Greig City Academy in north London, finished the Fastnet race at Plymouth early on Friday morning.

They were the only school in the 605-mile race this year.

"The lads have been brilliant and disciplined throughout," said teacher Jon Holt.

"It's gone better than expected," he added.

Safe finish

The Greig City crew in their 45ft (13.7m) yacht Scaramouche, were among 2,700 sailors who set off from Southampton last Sunday in the race around the Fastnet lighthouse off Ireland and back to Plymouth.

The winning boat crossed the line on Tuesday to gain one of the most coveted trophies in ocean racing.

The Greig City team said they never expected to win, aiming instead to finish safely.

When they finished at 01:38 on Friday morning, they were several hours ahead of schedule, coming in 142nd overall in a fleet of 368 boats.

On Twitter they described themselves as "proud" and said they had enjoyed every minute.

The sailing club at Greig City, where almost three-quarters of pupils are eligible for free school meals, was only set up four years ago when Mr Holt, a geography teacher and head of the sixth form, organised a dinghy sailing weekend.

Most of the pupils had never sailed before but quickly became hooked.

A massive fundraising effort by pupils and staff enabled the school to buy and restore an old 22ft yacht they found on eBay. Later they bought Scaramouche, a former international racing yacht, for 17,000.

When they entered their first race, which was against teams of adults, they had little hope.

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