Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge

Lord Nelson in front of the Tower of London
Lord Nelson coming through Tower Bridge
Lord Nelson with the City of London in the background


Jubilee Sailing Trust

The Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge ended this September, after the tall ship Lord Nelson took an integrated crew of disabled and able-bodied sailors on a two-year voyage around the world. This has never been attempted before, and we are delighted to have been the lead sponsor on this inspirational journey. Read on to find out more about the Challenge.

In October 2012, the Jubilee Sailing Trust (‘JST’) tall ship Lord Nelson set off on a ground-breaking voyage around the world - the Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge.

In September 2014, the ship returned home to the UK to great fanfare, having taken mixed crews of disabled and able-bodied sailors four times across the equator, reaching seven continents, covering 50,000 miles, and including 30 countries.

Lord Nelson is a three-masted barque. As part of this epic endeavour, she took part in the Tall Ships Race and made history as the first disabled-accessible tall ship to round Cape Horn, in early 2014.

The JST is a registered UK charity, founded in 1978, whose mission is to promote the integration of people of all physical abilities through the challenge and adventure of tall ship sailing. The JST offers both able-bodied and disabled people the opportunity to experience working together in a unique environment. The JST's mission is to overcome prejudices and misconceptions about disability and to enable people with a disability to show to themselves, and others, what they are capable of when the environment is designed to be inclusive. The focus is on what everyone can do rather than what they cannot.

Lord Nelson and her sister ship Tenacious – both built and run by the JST – are the only fully accessible tall ships at sea. Lord Nelson has taken 24,000 people to sea, 10,000 of these physically disabled, among them 5,000 wheelchair-users. She is crewed by 38 volunteers and a professional crew of eight. Specialist equipment includes hoists to lift wheelchairs up the rigging, power-assisted steering, lifts, a talking compass, Braille signs, vibrator alerts, and fixing points to secure wheelchairs in rough weather. Tall ships are ideal for JST's mission. Very few people spend time on a tall ship so all crew members are unfamiliar with the environment, therefore to sail the ship requires excellent teamwork, understanding and communication.

Norton Rose Fulbright is a strong advocate of the JST's values of diversity, inclusion and integration and is lead sponsor of the Challenge. For us, the Challenge was a perfect opportunity to raise awareness and change perceptions of disability. Out at sea is not the only place where change can occur. Lord Nelson carried disability awareness into countries where traditional attitudes differ widely.

With offices in many of Lord Nelson's stopover ports, we were ideally placed to assist disabled people to take part in the Challenge. Our support was a mix of financial backing, alongside assistance with the voyage logistics, marketing and awareness raising around the world. We also sponsored individuals with physical disabilities over six ocean passages.

The Challenge has been an exceptional opportunity to engage our people, clients and communities with a hugely ambitious project. This was the first time we have adopted a CSR cause across all our principal geographic regions. Supporting a project like this is an act of imagination and required significant effort to secure engagement and see it through. The 2012 Paralympic Games brought disabled achievement into sharp focus.

This was joined-up CSR activity, at a worldwide level, leveraging the global resources and capabilities of Norton Rose Fulbright, and involving partners, staff, clients and our communities.

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