AGH UST’s students will embark for the Independence Race on board Dar Młodzieży

To mark the centenary of Poland’s independence the most beautiful of all Polish tall ships called Dar Młodzieży will set sail on a voyage around the world known as the Independence Race. The vessel will take on board a group of competitively selected young Poles as well as several young people representing various countries of the world to ports the ship will visit on her way. A few of AGH UST’s students will also take part in this exceptional passage.

Three of the race participants comment on the adventures that await them and their passion for sailing:  

  • Maciej Kołodyński, 5th year student of Automatics and Robotics at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics,
  • Jakub Raduszewski, 1st year student of Ecological Sources of Energy at the Faculty of Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Protection,
  • Jacek Wójtowicz, 1st year student of Automatics and Robotics at the Faculty of en/wydzial-elektrotechniki-automatyki-informatyki-iinzynierii-biomedycznej/Electrical Engineering, Automatics, Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering.

Maciej Kołodyński (the author of the photograph titled ‘100 light years of regained independence’)

It has always been my dream to make a voyage on a tall ship, especially the one that would take me around the world. I have never had an opportunity to join any of the initiatives like ‘School Afloat, where young people train not in lecture halls but on board a ship. I have read a lot about such actions and I am very keen on the idea.

During the Independence Race I would like to complete one of the passages leading from Singapore, calling at several ports of Asia and America – to Los Angeles. I see this leg as the most interesting part of the entire expedition, with such wonderful cities en-route as Hong Kong or Shanghai. The Osaka – Vancouver passage is the longest leg of the whole voyage, taking over a month.

It is my firm intention to represent my country in ports we will call at on the way. As far as it’s possible, I will try to cover the trip and publish photos. I am also going to promote my university as the AGH UST’s flag will reach – together with me  the remotest of all corners of the world.

Sailing is my hobby, I am a holder of a maritime skipper licence. I have participated in several sea cruises around the Baltic, North and Mediterranean Seas. I have also sailed on many Polish lakes.

Jakub Raduszewski (the author of the photograph titled ‘Zawisza Czarny Bowsprit’) 

 It was a friend of mine who told me about the race. Initially, the vision of me taking part in it was dim and distant, yet once I had read the rules of the competition I said to myself : -Try! You’ve got nothing to lose while the next opportunity could present itself in a hundred years or more.

My dream is to take part in one of the passages between Singapore and Los Angeles as it crosses the Pacific Ocean with the world’s largest ports en-route: Singapore, Shanghai or Hong Kong, which I read about in my geography books. I am looking forward to having a chance to see for myself how powerful they are.

I will try to inspire curiosity about Poland in foreigners so that they want to learn more about the country or even visit it one day. I have already contacted those scout friends of mine whom I will meet in the ports en route and I hope to see them visiting me back in Poland before long.  I will take the AGH UST’s flag with me  it will wave on board during the race and then – in Panama during World Youth Day 2019.

I am a big fan of travelling, discovering new places and cultures. I hike a lot, sail, read adventure books and listen to Latino music. I have recently taken up parachute jumping. Most of these passions have their origins in scouting, to which I devote a great deal of my free time. I also volunteer for Misevi Polska missionary corps.

Last summer I did a yachting licence, which turned out to be truly helpful when it came to the sailing test. In April 2017, together with the crew of the local headquarters of the Polish Scouting Association (Kielce-Południe) I took part in a four-day passage from Gdynia to Klaipeda on board the Polish tall ship called Zawisza Czarny.

Jacek Wójtowicz (the author of the photograph titled ‘Winter on Kraków’s Market Square. Happy to be studying here’)

– I have been interested in sailing and large vessels for a long time. My success in the preliminary heats will allow me to embark on a race with Dar Młodzieży, which is normally an option reserved exclusively to maritime college graduates.

To my mind, the most exotic – and therefore most exciting – leg of the whole voyage is the passage from Cape Town to Singapore. The holiday timing is also an advantage. Parts of the race along the US coast might turn out quite interesting too.

As a member of the ship’s crew I will promote Poland in every port I will visit. A tall ship moored in a harbour is always an incredible attraction for local communities. I am sure many people will ask me where I come from and what is the occasion. I am sure I will have plentiful opportunities to talk about Poland as well as the University.

I have quite a lot of sailing experience for my age. I have been going on sailing camps since I was ten and I did my sailing licence at 14. When I was 17, I enrolled on the Blue School – that is: a two-month race around the Mediterranean on board Fryderyk Chopin – a Polish tall ship. That expedition was an amazing adventure. I visited Malaga, Barcelona, Ibiza, Malta, Athens and Sicily. Still, the most important thing for me was the very fact that I could take a trip on a sailing vessel. Before that, I could see such ships only when they were moored in harbours. The race took place during the regular school year so apart from the great deal of work you normally do on a ship, I had to keep up with all regular school assignments in my second grade of high school. Be that as it may, the adventures and the memories more than compensate for all the effort I went through back then. The following year I went on a cruise of the Bay of Gdańsk and later that summer I became a certified maritime skipper. Last summer, in addition to two more cruises, I worked at sailing camps on Mazurian Lakes. Still, sailing is not my only passion – I train rowing with AZS AGH and I play chess.

The Independence Race will commence in May 2018 with the finish scheduled for March the following year. The challenge will culminate in the crew’s taking part in 34th World Youth Day to be held in January 2019 in Panama City. Each participant of the maritime expedition will embark on the ship to complete one of the 18 passages of the round-the-world race and will be offered a chance to meet Pope Francis. The main goal of the race is to spread knowledge about Poland throughout the world. The Independence Race is organised by the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Maritime University of Gdynia and Salesian Voluntary Missionary Service – Młodzi Światu.

In order to qualify for the expedition, the young people aged 18-26 had to successfully complete a two-stage competitive procedure. Stage 1 required that the candidates assume the role of a ‘junior ambassador’ presenting the beauty of their ‘little homelands’ - be it a geographical, social or cultural space they live in and are emotionally attached to as well as one they could use to show and promote Poland. The winners selected in online voting were invited to the second stage to take knowledge tests covering the history of independence activity (from the Kościuszko Uprising to Poland’s regaining independence in 1918), basic knowledge of sailing and the maritime motifs presented in the Bible.

Dar Młodzieży is a three-masted sail training ship owned by Maritime University of Gdynia. The vessel was officially commissioned for service on 4 July 1982. In July 2017 she saw celebrations held on the occasion of her 35 years of service. During that period, Dar Młodzieży completed 220 trips, covered almost 580 000 nautical miles, called at various ports all over the world 750 times. Over 19 000 cadets and students from Polish and foreign nautical schools and colleges trained on board this regularly modernised tall ship.