Will Sutherland: Director, Skipper, Mentor

QBE (Qualified by Experience), the ELS's parent company, was established in 1992 by Will Sutherland, the longtime expeditions leader at Aiglon College in Chesières-Villars, Switzerland. Will was a protégé of the school’s founder, John Corlette, who spent several years working with celebrated educator and outdoorsman Kurt Hahn. Hahn, best known for promoting outdoor life-skills training through his Outward Bound® program, also founded two leading European schools, the Schule Schloss Salem in Germany and Gordonstoun in Scotland. Both headmasters were convinced that students should be challenged not only academically but physically and emotionally through demanding life-shaping experiences.   

Will learned to sail at the age of six and annually competed with his father in the Enterprise UK National Championships. He went on to study at St. Luke's College, Exeter, majoring in physical education, mathematics, and education. A keen sportsman, he spent his last year at college white-water canoeing, canoe surfing, climbing, diving, and sailing ever-larger boats.

While at Aiglon, Will kept a 36-foot sailing sloop at Antibes in the Mediterranean. During school breaks, he taught groups of students to sail and took them on yachting expeditions designed to build their skills and self-esteem. He also coached the J24 racing team that competed at Cowes Week for seven years. Aiglon teams won the class five times and came in second on the other two occasions.

Will, who once also worked as an instructor at the Royal Yachting Association Sea Schools in the UK, holds RYA Yachtmaster Ocean certificates with a commercial ticket. 

* QBE is not affiliated in any way with Outward Bound®.

“I was on the edge of dropping out of school when Will Sutherland took me and three others on a ten-day sailing expedition from San Remo to Antibes via Corsica. We all took turns piloting the boat. All of us gained a tremendous amount of self-confidence on that trip, and I returned to school with a new attitude. Will’s methods work!”  

–Y. Yamamoto, Tokyo