Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logosColeg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Busnes@LlandrilloMenai logos

Students compete in boats they built themselves

Learners raced each other off the coast of Anglesey after building their dinghies in Coleg Llandrillo’s Marine Engineering workshop

School students took to the Menai Strait to race the boats they built as part of their Coleg Llandrillo course.

The learners, who are all in Year 11, also learned how to drive powerboats during the annual day trip to The Conway Centre in Llanfairpwll.

The event is the culmination of the Level 1 Introduction to Boat Building course, part of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s 14-16 provision.

During the course of the year, students attend college one day per week, learning the basics of boat-building and crafting their own vessels in the Marine Engineering workshop at the Rhos-on-Sea campus.

They also learn about the industry, with many students going on to study Levels 2 and 3 Marine Engineering and progressing into well-paid jobs.

This year’s cohort were split into two teams, who built their boats ‘Black Pearl’ and ‘White Diamond’ from fibreglass epoxy and plywood over the course of the year. They then put them to the test off the coast of Anglesey, with Black Pearl emerging as the winner.

Jim Lehane, Practical Skills Supervisor at Coleg Llandrillo, said: “The two teams have been very competitive throughout the year, with each team trying to build their boat better than the other. Today was the culmination of all that hard work.”

As part of the course, students also have the chance to gain the Royal Yachting Association’s Introduction to Powerboating qualification, thanks to the college’s links with The Conway Centre.

This formed part of the annual event in Llanfairpwll, with students learning how to safely drive a boat both in close-quarter manoeuvring and at speed.

Students in this year’s cohort were from Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy, Ysgol y Creuddyn, Ysgol Bryn Elian and Ysgol John Bright.

Ewan Renshaw, a student at Ysgol y Creuddyn, said the best thing about the course was “trying something new and building a boat”.

“I never thought I’d be doing that,” said Ewan, who hopes to study the Level 2 course from September. “I’m looking forward to doing the course next year and will hopefully go on to work in marine engineering.”

Helga Dodwell, a learning coach at Ysgol John Bright, said: “It’s a brilliant provision that the college provides through the 14-16 network.

“Both of our students are now going forward to do the Level 2 course in September. Had this course not been available to them, they might never have heard of marine engineering. They’re so excited about doing it, they’ve absolutely loved it.”

The event was watched by Councillor Hannah Fleet, Mayor of the Bay of Colwyn, who said: “It’s a real pleasure to be here. It’s great to see such motivation from the students.

“The collaboration between our schools and the college has given them an opportunity to explore an area of engineering that they might not have known about otherwise.

“It’s wonderful to hear that so many are inspired to carry on with the next level of marine engineering. Also to hear about the exciting careers previous students have accessed as a result.

“It’s important that we use what we’ve got here in North Wales, that our children can take advantage of the area we live in and learn the skills they need to succeed.”

Gavin Jones, Construction Programme Area Manager at Coleg Llandrillo, said: “The day trip to the Conway Centre was a great experience for our 14-16 year old cohort. It was really rewarding to see learners getting enthused and engaged, learning new skills and working as a team.

“The Marine Engineering and Boatbuilding Department at Coleg Llandrillo offers a range of fully-funded courses which can lead to fantastic careers in the marine industry, as we work in partnership with both major international and local employers. Please get in touch or visit our website for more information.”

Are you interested in a career in marine technology? Click here to find out more about Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s courses.