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Hermione deckhands demonstrate team spirit in Marseille leg

media The Hermione is docked in the port of Marseille, southern France on 12 April, 2018. RFI/I. Martinetti

The replica of the Hermione left the port of La Rochelle, western France, on 21 February, for a four-month sailing in the Mediterranean.Over the coming weeks 350 deckhands of 34 different nationalities will take turns to crew the ship during the different legs. RFI caught up with three deckhands, Expedit, Syrine and Dylan as they arrived in Marseille on 12 April.

Last week, the replica arrived in the port of Marseille. Steering the ship into port was an incredibly difficult manouvre for the 80 deckhands - only 15 of them are professional sailors - and the captain, having already come through a storm and poor weather.

Special skills and training are required to be able to sail the Hermione. The ship is a replica of the frigate that brought General Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette to America in 1780 to support rebels during the War of Independence against the British.

The new deckhands had to, among other things, learn the sailing words and phrases of the time by heart, and learn how to climb the 54 metre main mast.

The Hermione is docked in the port of Marseille on 14 April, 2018. RFI/I. Martinetti

"Togetherness brings freedom"

The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) is the official sponsor of the 2018 trip, along with the Hermione-La Fayette Association.

The young sailors share values of the citizens' organisation called Libres ensemble launched in 2016 by young francophones in response to waves of terrorist attacks, radicalisation and inward-looking attitudes.

"You cannot achieve anything on this ship unless you show team spirit"

Expedit Tanmou is a deckhand from Benin. His work is linked to managing the environment around climate change issues.

This crossing has given him the opportunity to meet people: "Through it I met other young people who have ambitions just like I have, and I think that we are going to set up a network to get things done, and the world will from now on be talking of these young people who are ambitious and go-ahead."

"A message of peace in the Mediterranean"

Syrine Rekhis is a medical student in Tunisia.

The most difficult thing for her so far has been that the sailing " [which] is very physical, especially when it's cold, when there's a storm we need to go up [the mast]. There are many challenges but at the same time when you overcome the challenges, you know that you don't really have limits".

"Some of the deckhands have never seen the open sea before"

Dylan Wickstrom is a deckhand volunteer who comes from California, United States. He works at the San Diego Maritime Museum as an expert on tall ships. This is his third journey on the Hermione.


The Hermione docked in the port of Marseille RFI/I. Martinetti


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