A ROOKIE sailor from the Borders has arrived back on dry land after completing an epic research mission across some of the roughest seas in the world.

And she has brought with her a stark warning about the amount of plastic polluting our oceans.

Kirsty Young was plucked from thousands of applicants to take part in the eXXpedition Round the World expedition.

Despite never having set foot on a sailing boat before, the 26-year-old was one of ten novice female sailors who guided the SV TravelEdge from Plymouth across the Atlantic Ocean to Saó Miguel in the Azores.

The journey was scheduled to take around nine days and cover 12,000 nautical miles, but persistent storms and damage to the boat added around 400 extra miles onto the journey as well as three additional days.

Kirsty, who is from Duns, told us: “It was the first time I have been on a boat so knew it was going to be a challenge, however, I definitely underestimated the enormity of the task and just how vast and unforgiving the Atlantic Ocean can be.

"It was not just a physical challenge to sail the boat in the treacherous weather and storms we were faced with but a huge mental one to stay optimistic and carry on whist it felt like the world was against us.

"Being adaptable is a skill I’ve never fully appreciated until this voyage and it was certainly put it to the test as the ocean state changed so fast and often.”

Kirsty was one of ten women chosen from over 10,000 applicants to set sail on leg one of eXXpedition Round the World on October 8

eXXpedition Round the World is an all-female sailing voyage and research mission that will see 300 women circumnavigating the world, conducting cutting edge research into plastic pollution whilst celebrating women in STEM, exploration and sailing.

SV TravelEdge set sail from England and is due to sail 38,000 nautical miles before arriving in London in 2021.

Despite the challenging conditions during Kirsty's opening leg of the journey, the crew of 10 novice sailors undertook the required science research.

And they were horrified at the extent of plastic pollution.

Kirsty added: "We were expecting to find very little plastic due to our location and the choppy conditions.

"However, we were all shocked when our first sample contained 88 pieces of micro-plastic.

"It’s made me realise the severity of the situation, a clean-up of the ocean isn’t a solution, it’s too far gone.

"We need to focus on ways to stop plastic getting into the ocean at the source and start to refuse single use plastics completely which is understandably easier said than done."

The world voyage and research is being funded partly funded by the crew sailing on each leg and it was a challenge Kirsty to raise the money in such a short space of time to take part in the eXXpedition,

She said: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank friends, family and colleagues who have supported me and put up with my relentless fundraising and preparation on the lead up to the voyage.”

For more information or to track the rest of the eXXpedition Round the World: www.exxpedition.com/expedition/round-the-world/