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A "sad day" for Jersey as finance woes sink "life-changing" sailing trust

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Friday 15 December 2023

A "sad day" for Jersey as finance woes sink "life-changing" sailing trust

Friday 15 December 2023


Financial difficulties have sunk a "life-changing" sailing trust which operates the tall ship Tenacious in what its Chair has described as a "sad day" for the many people involved over the years.

Operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust, Tenacious is currently the only sea-going tall ship in the world that can be sailed by a mixed-ability crew, including disabled people, those with mental-health conditions, long-term ill-health issues and the socially isolated.

The tall ship is a regular visitor to the island, having enabled over 2,000 able-bodied and disabled crew from Jersey to work together onboard over the years. One long-term supporter previously described its work as "life-changing".

The connection with the island is decades old as, in the late 1990s, the States of Jersey – prompted by former Senator Jean Le Maistre – helped to build Tenacious by donating £350,000 to pay for its masts and spars.

But in a statement, the company said that despite its previous fundraising appeals, it has continued to struggle to meet costs.

Tenacious_portrait.jpg

Pictured: Tenacious is a regular visitor the the island.

The charity’s chair, Charles Humpleby, said it was "a sad day", but stressed that all of the money it had received over the years "had been used to continue the JST's mission".

"Jersey has been an important part of that," he continued.

"The ship still exists and if someone does buy her, then there is a future [for Tenacious].

"There isn't anything like her."

Assistant Chief Minister Lucy Stephenson also described the news as "incredibly sad" in a post on Twitter, adding:

"Only a couple of months ago I was lucky enough to step aboard Tenacious when she visited Jersey to learn about the fantastic opportunities it has given so many over the years."

Deputy Stephenson commented on the "incredibly sad" news in a Twitter post

In its statement, the JST noted that the last four years have seen two large-scale funding appeals, refinancing, several restructures, and a reduction in fleet size to one ship – as well as financing issues in the wake of the pandemic.

"We no longer have the time to pursue other financing options..."

“With much internal and external consultation we have tried different funding models, most of which have been heavily reliant on fundraising, or, trying to attract partners willing to pay full price to charter the ship. For the last 15 months we tried a funding strategy that was more reliant on income from our voyage crew paying for 75-80% of the cost of a voyage (or using bursary funding secured for this purpose)," the statement read.

“Unfortunately neither our voyage sales nor our fundraising efforts have been successful in meeting the c.£150k/month required to operate Tenacious and keep her legally compliant to deliver our voyages, nor to repay the historic debt (c.£477k) accumulated prior to the September 2022 change in strategy.”

The company added: “Whilst we have been investigating several options to change our situation, including loans and alternative business plans, we recently learned we were also unsuccessful in being able to raise the full amount required to put Tenacious through her regulatory dry docking in time to deliver our planned Atlantic crossing.

"If we were to attempt to re-start the programme in the Caribbean, sailing as a ‘delivery voyage’ (without voyage crew having paid to sail and meet the voyage costs) to the Caribbean would incur significant new expenditure that we would not be able to meet with the rest of the winter voyage programme. This means there is no viable way to fulfil our Caribbean voyages, and as such all voyages up to April 2024 needed to be cancelled."

Tenacious_2.jpg

JST chair Charles Humpleby said he hoped the would be "a future" for the unique tall ship.

The statement continued: “Without the funds from the balance payments for those winter voyages (of which almost £100k would be due now), and knowing we would be unable to refund the voyage crew whose voyages have been cancelled, we initiated emergency talks with our Board, financial and legal advisors, and other key persons with long-term connections to the JST history.

“Unfortunately as we are now without identified income to meet our imminent expenditure in December (including the wages of our crew and shore-based team) we no longer have the time to pursue other financing options, nor a public fundraising appeal, and our legal advisors view closure as the only option available. Tenacious and all assets owned by JST(T)L will pass into the hands of the Official Receiver, appointed by the court. All staff (ship and shore) are employed by the JST(T)L company and as such will no longer be in post.

“An email has been sent to everyone who booked onto a voyage to assist them with claiming their voyage fee from their insurance. We will update this statement as it appears on our website with contact details for any companies who are owed funds, once contact details have been provided. Our phones, website, social media and emails will no longer be monitored.”

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