The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) confirmed last night that the celebrity team, including The One Show presenter, Alex Jones and MotoGP and Formula One presenter, Suzi Perry, spent several days on campus, and in its hi-tech survival training pool in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, learning vital skills ahead of their Hell on High Seas challenge which starts on Monday.
NMCI director Conor Mowlds said the open-water survival and fire-fighting techniques they learned could save their lives in the event of an emergency.
“We were delighted to provide our facilities. It will be great exposure for Cork, and for Ireland’s maritime college,” he said.
The hi-tech survival pool can generate waves, rain showers and hurricane-force winds to simulate storm conditions at sea.
NMCI instructors put Ms Jones and Ms Perry, their fellow The One Show presenters Angellica Bell and Ore Oduba, as well as comedians Hal Cruttenden and Doon Mackichan, through their paces.
The team spent hours in the pool in their survival suits, learning how to stay together in the event of a capsize. They will all set off from Belfast Harbour Marina on Monday in a bid to sail around part of the UK in five days.
They will be living, sleeping and working on a Volvo Ocean 65 — a 65-ft carbon-fibre racing yacht which weighs the equivalent of 12 great white sharks.
Its largest sail, which the celebrities will have to manually hoist, is as big as two- and-a-half volleyball courts.
Ian Walker, the first British skipper to win the Volvo Ocean Race, will skipper the challenge.
“Out here, it’s about doing what you need to do, to survive. Sailors operate in four-hour watch shifts — that means that they’ll spend four hours on deck, and then get four-hours to sleep or relax,” he said.
“Unless there’s a sail change to be performed. Then it’s all hands on deck. The only predictable thing about life at sea is that it’s unpredictable.
The money raised will help transform the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people in Britain and across the world’s poorest communities.
Viewers of The One Show will be able to track the team’s progress by tuning in for live updates every day from 7pm.
The NMCI has some of the most sophisticated training facilities in the world, including a full-size bridge simulator and a survival training pool.
As well as its wide range of academic courses, the NCMI has set up a commercial division to offer several commercial courses to industry partners.
It now works with major port, shipping and petro-chemical companies to provide training for their vessel staff.