One of the most impressive assets of Starfleet Academy is her 23rd Century replica J Class sloop Inspiration. The Inspiration was based on the old 20th Century America's Cup racing sloops of the 1930's. Three sloops from that era survive to this day: The Shamrock V, the Velsheda and the Endeavour. Starfleet Academy realised that sailing training would provide an excellent medium to familiarise cadets with starship terminology, whilst allowing the application of appropriate skills in a similar situation to the one they will finally be applied in. The Inspiration would also allow cadets to explore their aspirations, their ambitions and their competative edge.
The Inspiration has a crew capacity of 14 sleeping onboard, or 30 embarked during the day. Six permenent crew cadets are assigned to the Inspiration: Skipper, Deckhand, Engineer, two Stewards and a Chef. The remaining complement are made up of visiting cadets with varying sailing experience. The cadets get a chance to experience all aspects of sailing and the various reponsibilities that come with it. Starfleet feels that as the terminology used on a sailing ship are virtually identical to a starship, and given that this type of vessel requires teamwork and dedication in order to function efficiently then this is seen as an appropriate means of training. Once a year, towards the end of the year, the Inspiration enters into a race against one or more other J-class sloops with trained crew aboard. The Inspiration is then raced to her full extent. Starfleet Academy has had an impressive run of victories, but has also known what coming second feels like. This is an important event as is pulls the Academy cadets further together as they support their own team.
The Inspiration mixes both state-of-the-art technology with the authentic look and feel of the original 1930's J-Class sloops. The sloop possesses and onboard computer and modern navigational equipment so the cadets may continue their studies whilst onboard and maintain constant contact with the outside world. The Inspiration was constructed in Falmouth, England, to the original specifications of the original J-Class vessels, closely following the design of the Endeavour, with minor modifications internally. The ship was constructed in 2230 from the original steel design and was ensured to be correct to the materials of the time. The Inspiration is 130 feet long, has 9 000 feet of sail and a 160 ton displacement. Modern amenities means that the meals served onboard are perhaps of a slightly better quality than in earlier centuries, but nevertheless, the Inspiration provides aan authentic feel of stepping back in time three-and-a-half centuries. Crewing a J-Class has been described like riding an old Boeing 747 jet airliner bareback....
Final-year cadets who have served with the Inspiration for all 4 years are given the opportunity to become her skipper. Selection is made based upon competence, leadership ability and more than a little on their popularity with the rest of the crew. Cadets chosen to skipper the Inspiration spend much of their spare time in their final year training their permenent crew aboard the Inspiration, as well as taking team-building crews out on the water. Skippers of the Inspiration tend to be either special services division cadets or command division cadets. One notable exception was the 2297 skipper of the Inspiration, Nathaniel Hawkins, who was one of the few sciences division cadets to attain the position of skipper. Ex-skippers of the Inspiration often return to the ship long after they graduate. they have life-long association with the sloop and are allowed onboard at anytime. All ex-permenent crew are presented with a model of the Inspiration to keep in their cabins on their starships to remind them of the excitement that awaits them whenever they return to San Francisco.
Return to Starfleet Academy.
The J Class sloops of the 1930's still exist today. The Velsheda is based in the U.K., the Shamrock V and the Endeavour are currently owned by J-Class management in the U.S.A. Their webpage is http://www.jclass.com. All the images included on this page are of one of the three sloops and all images are copyright to their respective owners and no infringement of copyright is intended.