Not surprisingly for a maritime nation, the idea of using the maritime way of life to introduce adventure and challenge to young people, is not a new one. As far back as the 1850's, institutions such as the Navy Lads' Brigade were taking young boys to sea for a taste of adventure and to prepare them for life in the Navy.
Times change, and Sail Training as we know it today can be seen emerging during the late 1950s and early 1960s when organisations such as the Sail Training Association, London Sailing Project and the Ocean Youth Club were formed. Rather than preparing young people for a career at sea, Sail Training now focusses on life and team skills that can be used anywhere and develop more rounded and confident citizens.
ASTO came into being in 1970 when Lord Dulverton arranged for a number of british Sail Training organisations to meet and discuss common operating procedures and problems. After three or so annual meetings it was decided to form an Association and seek charitable status. ASTO was registered as a charity in the UK in 1979.
As well as providing support to members with bursaries and training, ASTO's role is recognised by the MCA who appreciate the necessity for input into new legislation that could make it impossible for Sail Training organisations to operate. More information can be found in the section 'About ASTO'.
Today's Sail Training fleet of more than 50 boats would amaze the Navy Lads' Brigade of the 1850s who would find it hard to imagine purpose-built vessels of all shapes and sizes, operated purely to provide the benefits of Sail Training to everyone that steps aboard.