Scholarships provide ‘chance of a lifetime’ aboard iconic Excelsior

Crew members aboard LT 472 Excelsior - the last working fishing smack to be sailing out of Lowestoft

Crew members aboard LT 472 Excelsior - the last working fishing smack to be sailing out of Lowestoft. Picture: The Excelsior Trust - Credit: Archant

It is one of the nation's most important historic ships.

And a unique opportunity is being offered to young people aboard the iconic Lowestoft-based sailing smack Excelsior.

Following on from the success of its inaugural scheme in 2019, the Lowestoft sailing charity, Excelsior Trust, is offering three sailing scholarships this summer for young people aged between 16 and 24, who live in the East Anglian region.

Applications are being invited for this year's Tom Crisp Sailing Scholarships on board the vessel as a working member of the ship's crew.

This exciting project - offering a chance of a lifetime's adventure at sea to learn seamanship, navigation and survival - is named after Lowestoft hero Thomas Crisp (VC, DSC, RNR) the distinguished skipper of the armed Lowestoft Smack 'Nelson' who died in the First World War while battling German U-Boats in the North Sea.

At 77ft long, LT 472 Excelsior is the last working fishing smack to be sailing out of Lowestoft. Excelsior was built in 1921 and launched in Lowestoft as a fishing trawler - part of the town's 300-strong fishing fleet.

The smack was rescued from Norway in the early 1980s, where she'd been discovered working as a motor barge, and she was brought back to Oulton Broad to be fully and authentically restored as a working smack. In 1988 Excelsior was re-commissioned as a sail-training vessel by HRH The Princess Royal, and since then nearly 10,000 people have been to sea aboard Excelsior.

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The Tom Crisp Sailing Scholarships were introduced last year to mark Excelsior's centenary in 2021. After three successful applicants went to sea last year for a fortnight's voyage each, scholar Lois Wilson said: "I am truly grateful for this opportunity; it is something I will remember for a lifetime."

No previous sailing experience is required, but applications are encouraged from individuals who have an enthusiasm for the opportunity, and an ability to take individual responsibility as part of a ship's crew.

For an application form, and details of the voyages available please send an e-mail to

All applications must be received by Friday March 20th, and interviews will take place during the week before Easter.

Excelsior always welcomes visitors with day-sails or longer voyages available during the 2020 season. Visit for further details.

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