Winning skipper Brendan Hall inspires Bohunt students with talks and workshops


Bohunt School was lucky enough to host Clipper Round the World Yacht Race winner, Brendan Hall for a full day of activities last month.

Brendan’s School Assembly, entitled ‘Leading through the eye of the storm’ was a gripping narrative about an ocean yacht race on the edge, and a young skipper’s determined journey to victory.

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is the ultimate long distance challenge – a 35,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe, contested by amateur crews in identical racing yachts – and the winning team is the one that keeps their focus the longest. The 2010 winning boat, Spirit of Australia, was led by 28-year-old Brendan. Although he was the youngest and least experienced skipper in the race, the win was no accident – it was the culmination of years of training, skilled navigation and a leadership style way beyond his years.

The win was anything but easy, with his leadership skills severely tested many times, most acutely by a North Pacific hurricane; Brendan had to go to the rescue of an injured skipper on a competing yacht and skippered both boats across one of the most feared oceans in the world. Brendan’s brutally honest, no-holds-barred presentation was revealing and instructive to the 800 students listening intently, with valuable lessons in leadership and management – as well as never giving up. Thrown in quite literally at the deep end, he was pushed to the limit, and learned the leadership and teamwork lessons you can only learn the hard way.

Maya, one of the students listening, said:

“I came away from the talk clear that I had to set myself ambitious targets and never give up, even if, at times, I wanted to quit.”

Brendan said of his approach:

“‘Does it make the boat go faster?’ That one powerful question summed up our team’s whole approach to the race.”

Following the School Assembly Brendan then spent the rest of the day running two captivating workshops for groups of students who have been identified as having potential as leaders (or alternative??) and giving a talk to the local community. He also met with leaders from Bohunt School who may well be continuing to work with Brendan as they sail the good ship Bohunt further beyond ‘Outstanding’ and into the uncharted waters of Sixth Form, which opens in September of next year; his experience shows that with the right research, leadership and mindset an inaugural voyage can also be a winning one.

Neil Strowger, Headteacher and skipper of Bohunt said:

“Bohunt’s aim is to help children become ‘game changers’. Part of that is their attitude and in particular their ability to face difficulty and uncertainty calmly and confidently. Brendan is a great role model for the habits we want our young people to develop and that is why we are so keen for our students to hear from Brendan and take part in workshops run by him. We are also hopeful that his story will inspire even more of our students to take part in our extensive outdoor programme, which, serendipitously, is very likely to expand to include sailing within the next year.”