Graham Thompson of Pindar, a financial consultant from Crawley, went to Lincoln School with solicitor Damian Vaile, originally from Maidstone and Simon Plant (known as Spike), an IT Project leader from London back in the UK.
They received what Damian described as a 'massive round of applause' from an 80-strong group of 6-8 year-olds. 'They were very well informed,' said Damian about the students of the American International School, who come from all over the world. 'Although they loved the idea of falling overboard for some reason!'
'We told them all about the race,' explained Graham, 'and they asked lots of questions, such as: If we fell overboard were we worried about sharks? How big are waves in the Southern Ocean? Do you sleep on the boat - where do you stop? Then we went on to show them all the gear.'
'We dressed Spike (Simon Plant) in all the gear and pulled the cord on the lifejacket - the kids erupted! We showed them the crash helmets and goggles, demonstrating the protection that the helmsmen will need in the Southern Ocean. On arrival, we got a bundle of letters and photos, and it was great to know that they've been following us. It's strange, and humbling, to know that people in a foreign land are following us across oceans, we were treated like heroes. I think it's a very important part of this programme - to pass on our experiences to children.'
Damian Vaile expressed similar sentiments, saying that the school visit 'felt really special, I was mesmerised - we felt like Gods! We could have sat for hours answering questions.'
All the schools visited were English speaking, with European or American links, and the exercise is all part of the Global Challenge 2004/05 Schools Programme, which includes an educational pack based on the race.
A group of teachers was brought together by Portsmouth City Council (the start port in the UK) and they designed a pack of resources and lessons modelled around various aspects of the race in conjunction with the National Curriculum.
Schools across the UK and abroad are using the pack and many of the school children write to the website regularly as they follow the teams' progress.
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