2018 – A Review Of Our Charity Year

From winning awards, to launching new accredited learning…it’s been an amazing year of successes for Challenge Wales.

On what was branded as Visit Wales ‘Year of the Sea’ , we’ll take you on a quick tour of 2018 looking at some of our highlights, as we look forward to celebrating our 10th birthday in 2019!

The first six months of 2018;
In January, the charity had its first permanent salaried sea staff join the team and volunteers onboard Challenge Wales appeared in BBC’s Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys

MIchael Portillo Great Railway Journeys Challenge Wales

 

 

 

 

 

 

February saw us undertake our first residential voyage, brrr it was a chilly one but great to have central heating onboard, and we were excited to win Highly Commended in both the Innovation and People Development categories at the South Wales Business Growth Awards
In April we banned one-use plastic water bottles onboard our vessels and started to issue all young people sailing with us with a Challenge Wales reusable drinks bottle. It was very difficult to manage banning one-use plastic water bottles but it became a great conversation point and raised awareness onboard
May saw the charity commission it’s newly acquired second vessel Adventure Wales and within a few weeks was heading to the Tall Ships Regatta to represent Cardiff, Wales and the UK. It was great that the vessel won the Sail Training International Environment Award! While Adventure Wales was taking part in cultural, youth events, Challenge Wales was Volvo Hunting and welcomed the Volvo Ocean Race fleet into Cardiff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In June we integrated litter picking into our teamwork activities and June was the month we launched our accredited Agored Cymru Environmental Project with Dee Caffari, Skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic. We had aligned ourselves with Turn the Tide on Plastic as Dee was the only female skipper in the race, 50% of the crew were male/female, it had a really strong environmental message, had the youngest crew in the race and, at the time, the only Welsh sailor onboard. We also picked up the Amazing Space award in the Zokit Business Awards.

 

 

 

 

 

The second half of 2018 saw the charity;
Winning the Social Media Award at the start of the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland in July
In August we launched a sail training programme in North Wales on Adventure Wales and Challenge Wales returned from 49 days of sailing overseas, welcoming 10 different nationalities onboard and taking part in Europe’s largest free, youth, cultural event that was attended by millions of people!
November saw one of our trustees get invited to the Sail Training International Conference in Seville to speak about Challenge Wales’ sustainability journey
and believe it or not, our last voyage of the year happened at the beginning of December!

We welcomed quite a few new, fantastic volunteers to the team and set up no fewer than 30 partnerships with youth organisations who have seen the value of sail training and the impact it can have on young people. We’ve seen many of our young people succeed at getting bursary funding to help them get onboard – as we say, if young people want to take advantage of an opportunity but can’t afford it, we’ll help them to make that opportunity become reality.

 

Although we are small, we are proud of what we have achieved this year and remember;  “If you think you are too small to make an impact – try going to sleep with a mosquito in your cabin”  (quote unknown)

 Thank you so much to our donors, funders, volunteers, supporters and our amazing young people for a memorable 2018!

See you in 2019 for more educational adventures!

 

 

 

 

Challenge Wales volunteers evening at Crepe Escape

Festive Evening Celebrates Challenge Wales Volunteers

It was a festive thank you to the amazing Challenge Wales volunteers who’ve donated thousands of hours of their time this year.

Volunteers gathered at the award-winning restaurant Crepe Escape, in Penarth, as Trustees of the charity said a big thank you to those who have helped Challenge Wales this year in delivering voyages, fundraising and maintenance activities.

It’s the volunteers who are working with the young people through accredited onboard learning or our life skills development programme and giving up lots of their time to help others, and then coming back time and time again.

Challenge Wales Trustee, Vicky shared just a few of the amazing achievements that had happened in 2018. In particular, the launch of the second vessel Adventure Wales and starting a sail training programme in North Wales, launching an environmental accredited programme at the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover in Cardiff, doing our first group litter pick to raise awareness of one-use plastic getting into the marine environment and representing Wales and the UK at the spectacular Tall Ships Races.

Without our volunteers, these activities just wouldn’t be happening and our sail training programme wouldn’t be growing.

It was great to see familiar faces and new volunteers getting festive and the charity is now looking forward to an exciting 2019 as it celebrates its 10th birthday!!

Challenge Wales volunteers evening 2018

Almost 3000 miles later, Challenge Wales Returns Home to Cardiff

After almost 50 days away, Challenge Wales is returning home to Penarth today having had an amazing youth-led summer of adventure.

Having left her home port of Penarth Marina in June crewed by young people from Newport, Challenge Wales set sail for the South Coast for an adult fundraiser before heading to Sunderland for the start of the Tall Ships Races which would see us visit Esbjerg (Denmark), Stavanger (Norway), Harlingen (Netherlands) before returning into UK waters.

The rest of the summer would see young people jumping onboard representing no fewer than 10 different nationalities to experience one of the largest cultural, youth events in Europe as we represented Cardiff, Wales and the UK.

Those onboard would be racing, cooking, cleaning and running the boat…often jumping onboard with no experience whatsoever….but that’s fine as our volunteers and sea-staff help show everyone the ropes (literally!)

To get a snapshot of what was being experienced on Challenge Wales take a look at the film that one of our French trainees put together;

Although our summer has been fun, it has been educational which underpins all our activities.

From making ourselves more plastic aware and doing a litter pick at one of the ports we stopped at, to developing teamwork and communication skills, meeting young people from all over the world and understanding and accepting different cultures, to working in watches and strict routines, to broadening horizons and developing confidence and making new friends through adventure – It’s sail training in action. We are also proud to have given every young person who joined us a reusable drinks bottle to use during the voyage and to take home afterwards in our efforts to educate young people on the damage one-use plastic is doing to the environment.

49 young people have jumped onboard over the last few weeks, some were doing their Gold DofE, some were wanting to put something different onto their CV, some were onboard as they were deserving of a place and had been nominated for the experience while others were onboard working on an accredited environmental project. What was really good to see was that some of the young people who booked onto one leg, asked to stay on for the next voyage…so we must be doing something really special for that to happen!

What also made the Tall Ships Races exciting was not just the range of weather conditions from no wind to 35 knots, sailing non-stop through the night in watches or seeing a whale (albeit briefly), was that the Tall Ships fleet were trackable so parents, families and friends could follow our progress from home. With regular updates on twitter too, it really felt that you were there experiencing it with the young people!

Did you know that Challenge Wales volunteers helped deliver our summer adventures and this year amazingly 21 volunteers donated collectively almost 250 days of their time to make our overseas summer voyages happen?

And, with Wales’ sail training charity heading towards its 10th birthday next year, who knows what other exciting adventures are on the horizon and will be shared. #SharetheAdventure

Challenge Wales arrives into Harlingen at the end of the Tall Ships Races 2018. Pic courtesy of Sail Training International

 

Amazing Start for Challenge Wales in Tall Ships Races 2018

At the Tall Ships Races 2018 prize giving ceremony in Sunderland, Challenge Wales won the Social Media Award followed by an impressive start in the first leg of the Tall Ships Races.

Challenge Wales uses social media to engage with supporters, funders, parents/guardians, young people and volunteers. It’s a engaging way for us to try and capture some of the impact we are having, keep people updated on what we are doing and share our successes. Winning a drone as the prize was fantastic and something we’d wanted for a while. Having seen the Volvo Ocean Race onboard reporters using drones spectacularly at sea we wondered if we were a bit ambitious in even thinking it was going to fly and then return back to us (at the moment we have had a trial run on the quayside).

A very happy Challenge Wales Skipper sporting his reusable drinks bottle with one of the young people accepting our drone prize

Sunderland hosted a truly spectacular Tall Ships event. Flags and more flags could be seen fluttering in the wind and a great opportunity for photographers to capture some spectacular shots.

Pic courtesy of Sail Training International

In the afternoon of the 14th July, Challenge Wales headed out of the port for the Parade of Sail, and what better way to say goodbye to Sunderland. With spectacular square riggers, that Captain Jack Sparrow would be proud of, smaller vessels dressed with flags, seeing the International Tall Ships fleet sail out watched by thousands of people from shore is truly memorable.

Pic courtesy of Liam McCormick Photography

At 1945hrs we started our race and impressively were the first boat in our Class (Class C) to cross the start line. With young people onboard Challenge Wales and going straight into a night sail would certainly be a team bonding event.

By morning (15th July) Challenge Wales was in light airs in the wrong direction which are conditions that Challenge Wales doesn’t perform her best in but even so, she is still making a strong effort being 6th in Class and 6th for Line Honours.

The Tall Ships Races is one of the largest youth and cultural events in Europe and an event whose impact can’t be underestimated. It’s youth work in action and with no fewer than 8 different nationalities onboard Challenge Wales for this first leg it’s an experience that will be life-changing for many.

You can track Challenge Wales when she is racing here: http://yb.tl/tsr2018#

Don’t forget you can keep up to date with our adventures on twitter, facebook, instragram and linkedin. So give us a like or a retweet and show your support!


 

Round the Island Race Success

A 5.00am wake up call, a 5.30am departure from the pontoon and a 6.30am race start didn’t dampen spirits on Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship today, and after just over 11 and  a half hours Challenge Wales crossed the finish line in the famous Round the Island Race.

In what is the largest yacht race, with over 1,200 boats taking part and with around 10,000 participants taking to the water it really is  a spectacle like no other whether you are onboard or in the crowds watching and, if you are not doing either of those then following the fleet on the website race tracker can be pretty addictive too.

An early start for Challenge Wales crew means seeing a lovely sunrise

Challenge Wales, as a Class 0 vessel, was in the first group to start and as the cannon went off (fired with the press of a button by Dame Ellen MacArthur) it was a moment of excitement for everyone. For some of those on Challenge Wales it was their first Round the Island Race, while others had raced multiple times. But that didn’t matter as the exhilaration, anticipation and excitement was just the same.  Every 10 minutes for well over an hour another class of vessels would be facing the start line. Challenge Wales was the last of the Challenge 72 yachts to cross the start line. That gave us a bad start and in light airs which would be reducing through the morning, a bad start wasn’t what was needed.

The Challenge Wales charity uses Round the Island Race as one of its adult fundraisers which helps raise awareness of the sail training charity and also helps bring in revenue into the organisation to support our youth development programme, providing life skills to young people. It’s also one of the only opportunities where you will get to see several Challenge 72 yachts racing together against each other. And a great teambuilding event for companies, colleagues, friends or someone on their own to join in with.



An hour and a half into the race and we were making good progress and swapping places with the other Challenge boats.

As we went past the Needles, the spinnaker came out and as a spectator it is quite spectacular too see hundreds and hundreds of boats, all shapes and sizes turning into a mass of colour.

Pic of Challenge Wales  by Paul Wyeth on Round the Island Race website

Although we seemed well ahead of the other Challenge Boats we knew with light airs and tide it could be anyone’s race.

Challenge Wales managed to make good use of the wind and having a competitive skipper and team onboard and sailed ahead of the other Challenge 72’s.

At 1515hrs it looked like we were well ahead of the other Challenge 72’s but that almost changed as we ended up with little wind

A couple of hours later the wind dropped and it wasn’t until a couple of hours after that the wind started to pick up and we were able to gain some speed again and get across the finish line.

We finished the race,  beating again the other Challenge 72’s and the Clipper fleet, a few minutes after 1800hrs. Our elapsed time was 11 hours 34 minutes and 36 seconds, 18th in class and 283rd overall (which we don’t think is too bad seeing that 1,204 vessels started!). Here’s to next year…maybe!?

 

 

 

 

That Winning Feel for Adventure Wales Crew

At the Crew Awards Ceremony at the Tall Ships Races, Dublin,it was announced that Adventure Wales had won 3rd in Class, the ‘Youngest Crew’ Award and won a prize in the Gaelic sports inter-crew sporting activities.

This was an amazing achievement following winning the Environmental Award a few days earlier.

The Adventure Wales crew had come together as an amazing team. Less than a week ago they had met in Liverpool for the first time with most not knowing anyone else. Some daunted by what was ahead of them, some excited but all of them up for making the most of what this voyage was going to throw at them. Aged between 17 and 24 they worked in watches throughout the night, cooked, cleaned and sailed the boat with some not having sailed before. In Dublin, you would have thought the young people had known each other for years, sharing jokes, hanging out together, making the most of Dublin and the experience….but that is what sail training is all about; developing the team and shaping those that embrace the opportunity.

And, embracing the opportunity is what happened.

When the race started in Liverpool, Adventure Wales was someway behind the rest of the fleet, but slowly and surely edged towards the front of the fleet. Upwind the boat sailed well but a patch of light airs and then downwind sailing meant Adventure Wales couldn’t keep up with the better downwind boats. But even so at the awards ceremony, attended by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, it was announced that Adventure Wales had won Third in Class. But that wasn’t all!  The Adventure Wales team won ‘The Youngest Crew’ award, awarded to the crew. And, it was well done to one of our young people, Ben, who had won the Best Ball Catcher prize in the Gaelic Games inter-crew sporting activities that happened earlier in the day.

Really proud of their achievements and making memories that will last a lifetime, Adventure Wales will depart Dublin tomorrow with the same trainees who first jumped onboard in Liverpool. After the Parade of Sail out of Dublin they will sail non-stop back to Cardiff.


Our next Tall Ships Race will be on Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship in July/August 2018 as we race from Sunderland (UK) to Esbjerg (Denmark) to Stavanger (Norway) to Harlingen (Netherlands) and then homeward bound to Gosport (UK) then Cardiff. If you are aged 18 – 75 you can join us for our delivery/milebuilder voyage from Gosport to Sunderland, while the Tall Ships Races and homeward bound voyages are suitable for those aged 16 – 25 years Read more: http://challengewales.org/sailing/tall-ships/

Adventure Wales has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government.

Turn the Tide on Plastic Skipper Helps Launch Environmental Project

Volvo Ocean Race skipper, Dee Caffari helped launched Challenge Wales’ Environmental Project at the Volvo Ocean Race Village, Cardiff Bay.

Dee Caffari Challenge Wales Volvo Ocean Race Village

On 31st May, guests and volunteers turned up initially onboard Challenge Wales for a tour of the vessel,  before heading off to the eco-lounge in the Volvo Ocean Race village to hear Dee’s stories of adventure, the fight against the tide of plastic that is infiltrating even the remotest parts of the world and to hear more about the accredited learning opportunities and life-changing work that the Challenge Wales charity provides. With compostable cups holding tea and coffee in hand, everyone listened intently to what Dee had to say.

The Environmental Project is the latest addition to the Challenge Wales programme to give young people who participate on sailing days and voyages an opportunity to get an accredited qualification to add to their CV, while improving a host of life-skills through the process of hands-on big boat sailing and its development is part of the charity’s Voyages of Discovery Big Lottery funded project.

As skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic the 65ft Volvo Ocean Race yacht, which is enjoying a stopover at Cardiff, Dee is trying to educate people about the danger of disposable plastics and the effect they are having on the seas and the wildlife. “During the race we have been carrying out a science project to measure microplastics in the oceans. There were microplastics present in the most southerly part of the Southern Ocean! The problem is that you can’t see it, but it is everywhere, and everything in the food chain is affected. The potential health implications are enormous” she said at the launch.

Challenge Wales has been undertaking other environmental initiatives over the years including being part of a global citizen science project and measuring plankton levels, bringing science to life with experiences, working with the warden on Lundy Island to understand ecosystems. Challenge Wales has also worked with both Cardiff and Plymouth universities on marine-related activities.

Pic credits: Bekoh Photography

 

Adventure Wales Wins Environment Award

Not only has it been our first voyage in Adventure Wales but she has picked up her first award too!

It’s been a week of firsts for Adventure Wales. Her first proper voyage adventuring around the Welsh coast and into England, her first visit to Neyland in West Wales,, her first visit to Aberystwyth, her first visit to Pwllhelli, her first visit to the City of Liverpool, her first group of trainees onboard, her first Tall Ships event but the icing on the cake was being publicly told at the Tall Ships awards ceremony in Liverpool  that Adventure Wales had won the Environment Award. YAY!!!!

The Challenge Wales charity has put sustainability at the heart of its sail training programme. A few years ago the charity started measuring plankton as part of a global citizen science project, we’ve had microscopes onboard looking at what is under the surface of the water, we’ve looked at our own recycling systems onboard our vessels, identified how we can link into other marine action plans to help the environment, we’re currently waiting for our first order of reusable water bottles to give every young person as we aim to ban one-use water bottles coming onboard (this creates a great talking point with young people and adult guests onboard) and more recently we have developed an accredited learning programme around an environmental project (as part of our Big Lottery Funded project Voyages of Discovery) which we hope will inspire our young people to help us all do our bit for the planet.

Adventure Wales in the Tall Ships Crew Parade (Pic courtesy of Sail Training International | Valery Vasilevsky)

The Environmental Award was won by Adventure Wales for its environmental commitment and is a great recognition for the environmental focus the vessel and the charity have taken.

Sail Training International Race Director, Paul Bishop said: “Protecting the marine environment is more important today than it ever has been with the immense levels of plastic pollution in all the world’s oceans today. The Environmental Award went to a vessel which has environmental stewardship education as part of their on board training.”

As a charity it is great for Adventure Wales to be recognised publicly for the work that the Challenge Wales charity is doing in this area.

And this award couldn’t have come at a better time!!! In a couple of days time the Volvo Ocean Race fleet races into Cardiff and on 31st May we are welcoming Dee Caffari, Skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic onboard Challenge Wales that will be moored within the Volvo Ocean Race village. Although we are wanting to talk to her about our sustainability actions and of course our newly won Environment Award, we can’t wait to ask her about her adventures and ask her some questions too!!

The Tall Ships Regatta, organised by Sail Training International, brings young people from all over Europe together in a spectacular youth and cultural event and the young people onboard Adventure Wales will be representing Wales and the UK. Adventure Wales will race with the fleet before returning back to Penarth on the 5th June 2018.  The race starts in Liverpool and when the event took place previously around a million people turned out for the four-day festive maritime extravaganza.


Read about our sustainability activities here…

Adventure Wales has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government.

‘Amazing’ Win at Business Awards

On Thursday 17th May, we headed off to the Zokit SpringConf and little did we know that later we would be walking away with an award!

These awards were a bit different to other award events that we had attended as it was an event focussed on networking, collaboration, finding new contacts, generating new ideas and learning and it was certainly and action-packed busy day….with the awards being thrown in to recognise some amazing businesses, and their achievements, in the room.

Challenge Wales was shortlisted as a finalist in two categories; Outstanding Contribution and Amazing Space.

And, we walked away as winners of the Amazing Space category. This was perhaps a category that we wondered if we were worthy enough to be shortlisted in but I guess not many venues can drop anchor in different parts of the UK, enable companies to support the development of young people through team building activities and have such a strong charitable mission.

So why did we win?

The lead judges of the category, Shed Marketing (in Cardiff) said;  “We feel that Challenge Wales is a totally amazing and unique space and most certainly has the Wow factor.  It gives guests an amazing experience and also helps young people to engage back into society and build up their confidence.  It’s a great venue for events and team building exercises …and what a great place to do it – across the seas!”

Neil Lloyd, Director of Zokit added: “I’m delighted that the judging panel agreed that Challenge Wales are very worthy winners of the Amazing Space Award. They truly create a fantastic, interactive and dynamic environment from which they can achieve their aims of changing lives through adventure and outdoor learning.”

Trustee of Challenge Wales, Vicky with Matt from Shed Marketing, one of the judges

This is an amazing piece of good news we’ll be sharing with our volunteers and stakeholders and a great achievement and recognition for the team. Thank you!!


 

Sailing to take centre stage in Cardiff

Challenge Wales raced in the world’s toughest yacht race, against the prevailing winds, now the next toughest yacht race rolls into town and it shouldn’t be missed!

The Volvo Ocean Race is endurance like no other. Professional teams race against each other around the world facing the toughest conditions the oceans can throw at them. It’s endurance, teamwork, adventure, inspiration and challenge rolled into one, and a big one at that.

The event brings the top performers of the sailing world together but you don’t need to be a sailor or interested in sailing to get involved in the event when it rolls into Cardiff this month as the race has an environmental message with it which we can all take something from.

Leg 7, Auckland to Itajai, start day. 18 March, 2018.

The 45,000 mile race now has the end in sight and the next big race-leg is across the Atlantic from Newport (Rhode Island, USA), up the Bristol Channel and into Cardiff (Wales).

Although Challenge Wales is bigger than the Volvo boats, ok only by a few feet, the Volvo yachts are pure racing machines bred for speed and fly through the water in a not-to-be-missed spectacle. This is the first time the race, in its entire history (since 1974) has called into a Welsh port so it is going to be something pretty special.

During the two weeks that the event is in Cardiff, the Race Village is where you need to head to and will be open (free of charge) to the public. Make your way to the Barrage (from either the Penarth or Cardiff end) and follow the crowd and the buzz of excitement that will be wafting through the sea-air. You will be able to get close to the boats and the teams in this carnival-like atmosphere.

Challenge Wales racing in Round the Island Race and will be heading out to greet the fleet into Cardiff

 

There is a strong sustainability message that comes with the race and one we all need to learn from. We hope that this is the legacy that the race will leave. Marine litter is playing a huge part in devastating the oceans and the wildlife that lives there. If you don’t live near the sea you might not realise this. We need to leave the world for the next generation to enjoy and at this rate with rivers clogged with plastic bottles and straws and microplastics getting into some of the remotest parts of the world and into the food chain it is frightening what will happen next. The event is going to help us think about how we can look after the world better than we are doing now. Something as simple as giving up using plastic straws (there are some great non-plastic alternatives out there), can make a huge difference. The event has also made Challenge Wales think about its sustainability activities too. You can also check out our Marine Litter blog.

With around 200,000 visitors expected to descend into the area for the event, there’s going to be an atmosphere like no other.

What not to miss:

  • A visit to Penarth – Although Cardiff is the host port, the seaside town next door is going to be THE place to watch the boats on the water. The cliff top and the promenade will be great options for the in-port race plus there are lots of retail businesses and restaurants waiting to welcome you. And, if you can pick up a copy of the local Penarth View magazine or follow them on twitter it will give you lots of useful information about the town. It’s a great read!
  • The arrival of the boats – Who knows when the boats will arrive? They are due in 27th – 29th May so Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship is going to go out hunting for them, for three days via Lundy Island, with the aim to be first on the scene. We want to personally welcome Turn the Tide on Plastic boat who we have been following throughout the race. Will they race across the Atlantic really quickly or will winds in the wrong direction hamper progress?
  • A free festival – It’s half term so bring the family out to soak up the race atmosphere in the Race Village and on the Barrage
  • The Race start – on 10th June the boats will depart Cardiff and head off on the next leg of the race. Jump onboard a spectator boat to get as close to the action as you can. Both Challenge Wales and Adventure Wales will be on the water as spectator boats so why not jump aboard, either on your own or with a couple of friends and have a fab afternoon on the water.

Check out the Volvo Ocean Race Cardiff Stopover website for details of what’s going on.
And, don’t forget that we’ll be enjoying the Volvo Ocean Race atmosphere both on and off the water so come and join us. Read more about our Volvo Ocean Race activities and jump aboard.

Volvo Pics courtesy of Jesus Renedo