A FILM-MAKER has documented a group of teenagers as they take on one of the world’s most famous sailing races.

Alice Lee, producer director at Lambent Productions in Brighton, filmed My Life Making Waves for CBBC as part of the channel’s series on children from around the world doing extraordinary things.

The film follows pupils from Greig City Academy in Tottenham making history, as they are from the only state school ever to enter the 605-mile Fastnet Race from the Isle of Wight to Fastnet Rock at the most southerly point of Ireland and back to Plymouth.

The documentary is the first film Alice has directed for Lambent Productions.

The 29-year-old said: “We thought it would be a great story to tell. It started two years ago when my boss spotted a tiny headline about a school doing the Fastnet race for the first time.

“I got in touch with the teacher who had set up their after-school sailing club and when the race came around again we had about two weeks to prepare for filming. It was mad but I loved it.

“I’m really lucky to work for Lambent – they took a punt on me having a go at directing and it worked out really well.”

The Argus: Director Alice Lee with Lambent production team James Miller and Kieran Etoria-KingDirector Alice Lee with Lambent production team James Miller and Kieran Etoria-King

The film follows 13-year-old Kai – the youngest member of the sailing team who had become hooked on the sport after joining the school’s club, set up by the head of sixth form and sailing enthusiast, John Holt.

John had raised enough money to buy their school racing yacht, Scaramouche, which he had found in a boatyard, and set up the sailing club, with the team practising at West Reservoir in Hackney. Alice said: “John is the most inspirational, dedicated teacher. He spent a lot of his time on weekends driving the boys down to Southampton so they could train.”

Alice filmed the boys as they set off from Cowes on the Isle of Wight. She said: “They were there alongside Olympic sailing teams and teams with multi-million pound boats. When the race started we were on a speed boat filming them as much as possible. We went as far as we could and then they sailed off into the distance.”

The Argus: The boys aboard the Scaramouche during the Fastnet RaceThe boys aboard the Scaramouche during the Fastnet Race

One of the main challenges was simply making sure the production team could capture the whole race as Alice and her two team members could not join the students on their boat.

She said: “We had to think really hard about how they could film themselves on the boats safely and have enough places to keep everything out of the water. That was another big worry – that everything would get water-logged.”

Alice gave the sailing team an old camera as well as two Go Pro cameras and charging packs, but as the sailing team set off to cross the Irish sea, the weather conditions began to make filming much harder.

She said: “It was worse than anyone had predicted. You can actually see in the film when a wave comes over and they’re all completely drenched - that’s when that camera broke.

“The weather was so bad at one point that they had to take the two Go Pros off the mounts and hold them to film instead.

“The mounts were metal and they were all completely rusted after just three days.”

The Argus: Star of My Life Making Waves, Kai, top centre, with the Greig City Academy sailing teamStar of My Life Making Waves, Kai, top centre, with the Greig City Academy sailing team

Alice said the best thing about making the film was witnessing the boys’ team spirit.

She said: “When they all got off the boat they said it was the hardest thing they had ever done.

“The weather had been so bad but there was a big sense of achievement and they beat their school record. You might expect there to have been a lot of bravado but they worked so well as a team. All the older boys were looking after Kai and I didn’t hear of any arguments, which is pretty impressive considering they were all sharing a really small space and not really sleeping, a lot of them were seasick.

The Argus: The team celebrate finishing the race and beating their school recordThe team celebrate finishing the race and beating their school record

"One of the team members, called Sean, got a professional yacht job off the back of doing the race.

“For John, the whole reason he started the club was to open up opportunities for kids who had grown up on estates in Tottenham, and now some of them are finishing school and going straight into these professional sailing jobs. It’s really positive.”

Catch My Life Making Waves tomorrow at 5.30pm on CBBC.