Our Tall Ships Adventure Under Sail Is Underway

Our summer of adventure has started, and for the uninitiated a Tall Ships adventure is like no other.

If you haven’t been involved in sail training before, you might think that we just ‘sail around’ and if that is what you think then you are definitely missing out on something. Sail training is adventurous outward bound on the water which provides a life-experience and social skills development on a variety of levels across all abilities. For Tall Ships racing you can add culture to the list!

Tall Ships Races encourage international friendship, competition and fun, teambuilding and passion about the country you are representing in the race. It’s a cultural and youth event like no other with races consisting of several hundred nautical miles and a ‘cruise in company’ allowing crew to explore new places. Over 50% of the crew participating must be under 26 years which often surprises people.

On 2nd July, our Tall Ships summer adventure truly started. We said goodbye to Danish, Scottish and English young people who had sailed across the North Sea to help deliver the boat and welcomed, Welsh, Polish, Swedish, English and Canadian young people for the next journey. We were already in the Tall Ships spirit having partnered up the day before with the German sail training vessel Esprit to take part in the Stand Up Paddleboarding competition….which we won!

The 3rd July, the Tall Ships fleet paraded out of Halmstad, Sweden. Choppy seas, westerly winds of up to 30 knots greeted Challenge Wales and the fleet and knowing that we didn’t need to cross the start line for another 30 hours (yes, the start line was 100 miles away) we took the opportunity to have another night in port and headed for Helsingborg.

We were spotted, sailing past Denmark’s most famous castle: Kronberg Castle, made famous as Esinore in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

The start of the first Tall Ships Race was a virtual start, and Challenge Wales (as a  Class C) boat was scheduled to cross through the start gate a couple of hours after the big square riggers had gone through. It was fun watching on Yellow Brick tracker at the start of the race, and must have been quite a sight to be actually there!

From the strong winds that greeted us at the start of the race, the wind slowly settled down and by 1530hrs (BST) today but at the other extreme had settled down to nothing, as the Skipper reported “We’re having curry tonight, we need the wind, we are currently sailing at a speed of 0 knots!”  The image below shows 0 knots of wind speed and 0 knots of boat speed (yikes!)!

So, with no wind and warm weather it was the perfect time to take an aerial shot of Challenge Wales sailing, in fact this is probably the first time we have had an aerial shot with an onboard camera while sailing.

So, as we go into the evening of 8th July there is less than 50 miles to go to the virtual finish line. Two boats have already crossed the line and with the current weather conditions Challenge Wales is expected to finish around 0450hrs (BST).

Safe passage as the sun sets on another day of adventure under sail.


Don’t forget for frequent updates on Challenge Wales visit www.twitter.com/challengewales
To track Challenge Wales during the summer while she is Tall Ships racing, visit www.challengewales.org and scroll to the bottom of the home page!

Challenge Wales Dragon on Scottish Canal

Neptune’s Staircase, a dragon in Loch Ness and big big ships!

It was a wet morning as Challenge Wales left Oban, Scotland, in a mere 3 knots of wind. Passage planning complete, Fort William was where we were heading for and we were on a strict timescale to get there ready to enter the Caledonian Canal at midday. The Caledonian Canal is 60 miles long and would take us across Scotland through some spectacular scenery. As the sun was trying to break through, the lock gates opened and we started our journey.

Challenge Wales entering Caledoninan CanalAs we tied up on arrival, we were welcomed by some friendly Scottish people who had been watching our journey on Marine Traffic (a vessel tracking system) and had been ‘spying’ on us as we arrived. Fear not, they came to the boat armed with doughnuts, and Scottish accents, which went down very well….in the rainy weather!

Eating doughnuts in the Caledonian Canal

Tea break over, the next part of our day was to climb up Neptune’s Staircase, an amazing engineering feat and the longest staircase lock in Britain lifting boats up 2 0metres. Prior to arriving in Scotland, we had seen some fantastic pictures of Neptune’s Staircase in the Scottish sunlight but the misty haze of rain didn’t quite make it as picturesque as we were hoping. But it was fun and lots of people came and said hello to us along the way.

Of the 60 miles that makes up the Caledonian Canal, 38 miles are along Loch Lochy (we thought this was quite an original name), Loch Oich and…..Loch Ness with the remaining 22 miles being canals. At the top of Neptune’s staircase we decided to call it a day, and moor up for the night…and the rain was just about stopping (yippee!).

Wakey, Wakey! Another day, another new adventure in the Caledonian Canal and although we could say it was a wet and murky start, we like to think it was misty, mystical and eerie! Well our dragon mascot thought that peering at the low drifting clouds.

Today, Challenge Wales would be at the highest altitude and highest latitude that she has ever been at, which was quite exciting (certainly to the person who was tweeting back at Challenge Wales Towers!….in the dry). It was a great view from this lock and now it was time to descend from Fort Augustus into…..Loch Ness.

We were very excited to enter Loch Ness. Loch Ness is the second largest Scottish Loch by surface area and the second deepest and apparently it contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. With all the rain we were experiencing we weren’t surprised!  Was Nessie going to make an appearance? Think of the press coverage that could bring us! The rain seemed to lift but being a little bit behind schedule at this point we decided to motor through Loch Ness quite quickly. Thank you to a fellow sailor who sent us a picture (below) of us in Loch Ness. We are wondering though whether that black blur in the bottom right corner is actually our wake or is it Nessie about to make an appearance and we’ve missed a money-making opportunity!

We spent another night in the Caledonian Canal, and the following day started our journey down to the North Sea. We were still waiting for the Scottish sunshine to come out and were feeling optimistic about this.

In the distance was Kessock Bridge, a focus of the Inverness skyline, which at some point we would need to go under (cue double and triple checking our charts and calculations to ensure we get under the bridge at the right time!).

Interestingly why Challenge Wales was crossing through Scotland she was encountering significant rain showers (did we mention the rain?!), and at times quite torrential. Back at Challenge Wales’ home port, and in fact in most other parts of the UK there was a heatwave! The Met Office picture literally shows the rain tracking the boat through the Caledonian Canal! Those onboard weren’t too happy with this picture. Good job they didn’t see us tweeting about this at the time!

Our journey through the Caledonian Canal was at an end, and that night moored up in Inverness marina we enjoyed (at long last) a peak of the sun and a golden sunset….with the water glimmering and now enjoying the longest day of the year we kept our fingers crossed for sunny weather the following day!

In the morning, it was goodbye Inverness Marina and hello to Kessock Bridge. We knew the last part of our journey before heading out into the North Sea was to go under a bridge. Going under a bridge with a big mast is always nerve racking, even when you have checked and checked again the calculations. There isn’t much of a gap between the top of the mast and the bridge, and even when you know you can fit under the bridge, most of those onboard the boat decided now would be a good time to go below deck, make a cup of tea, and not watch!

Well, we couldn’t not include a picture of what it looked like going under the bridge. Goodness it looks a tight fit! We did joke about sending someone up the mast with a fender. And it looks like that was almost needed!

From Inverness our journey would be non-stop to Aberdeen, so working in 3 hours on and 3 hours off watches we sailed through the Moray Firth, famous for its dolphins…and yes we did see dolphins.

Thank you again to the person who captured us motor sailing through. By now we were having a bit of respite from the rain, and the clouds started to disappear. It was our last night at sea and what a sunset we were treated to.

It was chilly on the water, but we were all wrapped up warm (apart from those who were snuggled up in their bunks trying to have their three hours of sleep) and we were enjoying the sailing. Our journey then took us towards Fraserborough before we would tack towards Aberdeen. Before we knew it, the sunrise peaked over the horizon and the fresh morning rays bounced off our mainsail giving our ‘Autumn Harvest’ coloured mainsail a warm glowing tinge.

A mile offshore from Aberdeen the mainsail was lowered and an hour or so later it was ‘Ahoy’ Aberdeen Port. It was our first visit to Aberdeen and we were warmly welcomed. We were a bit of an unusual sight in a port with menacing looking ships dwarfing our now very tiny sail training vessel.

Luckily in this picture (above) we were tied up just in case you did think we were being followed very closely by a very big boat.

Challenge Wales in Aberdeen PortYou can only just make out Challenge Wales in the picture above, but can you guess who is moored up in front of her? Yes, its Gipsy Moth IV. For the uninitiated Gipsy Moth is a vessel that Sir Francis Chichester commissioned to sail, single-handedly, around the world in and departed Plymouth in 1966 on this venture. So, two round-the-world boats alongside each other. Interestingly the last time Challenge Wales and Gipsy Moth were together was at the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant on the Thames in London in 2012 when we were both tied up in St Katharine Docks as part of the Avenue of Sail.

So after a couple of days in Aberdeen and after new crew and young people had arrived, it was a big farewell to our Scottish friends and our next adventure was to start. Halmstad, the Welsh are coming to have fun and be part of the spectacular Tall Ships Races.   And, to get into the spirit of the Tall Ships Races we departed in style, cheering and doing a Mexican wave! See you in Sweden!

Challenge Wales departing Aberdeen

 

 

Travelling could make you more employable

Taking time out in between studying, or taking a break from work could be seen as a risk. How do you pay for travel? Am I going to miss a promotion at work? Will I get left behind as my friends and family carry on with their lives.

Well, according to new research conducted by Hostelworld who surveyed 1,000 people in eight different countries, taking time out (from a month to longer) to travel to gain some worldly experiences might actually make you more employable.

The results showed that over 80% of employers believed that travelling made you more employable. 38% of those surveyed felt travel boosts confidence, 37% believed it increased people skills, 35% said that travel helped them adapt to new situations well while 31% felt travel improved their communication skills. When looking at those who had travelled themselves, 62% said their travel experiences helped them understand what they wanted to do with their life, while almost 50% made connections while travelling who helped them get a foot in the door at companies.

Who knows what is over the horizon, but travelling suggests something better?!

We at Challenge Wales think this is very interesting, as we are into travel and skills development to improve employment prospects, we are also keen on adventure so we looked at one of our own case studies and did a little bit more digging!

It’s a competitive place on there, get your CV noticed
The Higher Education Statistics Agency shows 73% of students are graduating with a degree that is a 2:1 or higher….which means there is a lot of competition out there for jobs so your CV has to stand out. A life-experience like travel can do that.

Skills learnt are transferable into a variety of jobs
So, what skills can a life-experience like travel provide me with: Teamwork skills (if you are working with others), communication skills and confidence (visiting a new part of the world you might have to overcome language barriers, come out of your comfort zone, ask how to find a bus or talking to strangers?), adaptability (you are going to be out of your comfort zone, the unexpected might be happening, your routine might be changing – so you need to adapt), responsibility and independence (you’ve arrived at an airport, you are in charge of yourself: it’s you, your backpack, your passport and your travel money!). Read our case study ‘From unemployment and into work’.

Volunteering
Your travel adventure could tie in volunteering helping you to develop skills and experience in a specific field of interest. Challenge Wales offers this, so if you join us for a week or two one year, how about joining us for much longer the following year! Plus, this opportunity is available for those up to the age of 75!

Giving you a focus
One of our young trainees was coming to the end of her university degree and didn’t quite know what she wanted. to do Her adventure with Challenge Wales gave her that focus and drive to pursue a career she hadn’t thought of. Read our case study ‘From Wales to the other side of the world’.

Representing Wales and the UK
Challenge Wales is part of the international Tall Ships fleet, and those aged 16 – 25 years have the opportunity to represent Wales and the UK at these cultural events that form part of the Tall Ships races. All of the above applies to Tall Ships Racing: skills development, developing drive and focus, sense of competition, dealing with success, achievement but also reflecting on when things haven’t gone so well. Our voyages can be life-changing. And, with Challenge Wales being just one of over 100 vessels taking part, you can spend a whole summer jumping on and off different vessels or use the event to take you to new countries before continuing your travel on land.

Sometimes you can’t get to where you need to go until you find a different path
Quote – Unknown


 

 

Nominate someone for an adventure!

As Challenge Wales prepares for one of her biggest adventures yet, we’re doing a shout out to see if you know anyone who may benefit from an adventure outdoor experience, giving you the opportunity to nominate someone or encourage a young person to apply! Certain restrictions do apply as that is due to how the places are funded.

Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship has 13 fully funded places across two of its Tall Ships legs this summer in Finland and is encouraging young people aged 16 – 25 years  AND living with a CF Postcode area to apply for a place as soon as possible.

 

Challenge Wales already operates a bursary scheme to subsidise UK residents to take part in  its innovative adventure activities however, extra funding is enabling Challenge Wales to offer 13 fully funded places, to those living in a CF postcode area, across two of its Tall Ships legs this summer in Finland which will cover 100% of the voyage costs. In addition a small travel bursary is also included to help with travel to and from the ports.

Successful applicants will be racing Challenge Wales against over 100 vessels, from no fewer than 23 countries, from the international tall ships fleet and representing Wales and the UK at this spectacular event. Around 4,000 young people from all over the world will be taking part in the Tall Ships Races series this year and no sailing experience is required.

The charity is looking for young people who are wanting an adventure and are up for a challenge. Those taking part are actively running the boat, so it’s not just sailing but also cooking, cleaning and working in watches! We have lots of fun onboard too and there is a host of shore-side inter-crew activities organised as well at the end of the race.

How To Apply:
Young people can contact us themselves to apply but we are also encouraging teachers, colleagues, group leaders, parents and friends to nominate others, aged 16 – 25, for this opportunity who might benefit. Perhaps someone has been working hard for exams or at work and needs a break, maybe someone has had a tough few months, it might be someone who hasn’t been able to have a holiday for a few years or someone who would enjoy an adventure, challenge and experiencing new cultures
To get an application form and for further details email the Challenge Wales office  or call 029 20 704 657.

The deadline for applying is 8th June 2017 and applicants must be available to travel from 15th – 22nd July or 22nd – 31st July 2017.

Read our Tall Ships Race Trainees information 2017 v5 with full details of what a Tall Ships event is like.


A CF postcode area is found in Wales and is a group of postcode districts around Aberdare, Bargoed, Barry, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Cowbridge, Dinas Powys, Ferndale, Hengoed, Llantwit Major, Maesteg, Merthyr Tydfil, Mountain Ash, Penarth, Pentre, Pontyclun, Pontypridd, Porth, Porthcawl, Rhoose, Sully, Tonypandy, Treharris, Treorchy.
Successful applicants will need to write a voyage report and blog about their time onboard the boat and be available for publicity. Challenge Wales works hard to secure funding for its activities and any person awarded funding is required to write a thank you to the funder. There is a £35 refundable deposit to reserve a berth, this is refunded once the applicant has started their voyage.

As with all our voyages, our booking terms and conditions apply

Other bursary funding is available for Welsh residents  and UK residents for Tall Ships Racing if you are not eligible for the above.

Adventure and travel inspiration on the water…we find out more at the Bristol Expo!

Adventure is often seen as an exciting or unusual experience. It could be a road trip holiday, it could be going off the beaten track exploring, it could be exploring somewhere not too far from where you live to give you a different perspective. But, adventure can also mean doing something new, stepping into the unknown and learning  from the experience along the way.

Adventure means different things for different people, it could be something you do on your own, with friends or with strangers and yesterday one of the Challenge Wales team, Vicky,  headed to Bristol to the Women’s Adventure Expo to find out more.

The Women’s Adventure Expo (WAExpo) is the first and only adventure and travel expo in the UK dedicated to women and this event had a focus on water.

It was inspiring to hear that ‘normal’ people like you and me can…and do… become adventurers. The room was full of people interested in their first or next adventure and the event had a great mix of speakers; Sarah Outen MBE who, under her own power, rowed, cycled and kayaked around the world, Beth French who went from wheelchair-bound to endurance swimmer and self employed single mum, to Della Parsons who went from an office job to sailor and circumnavigating the world on a yacht to name a few.

A few things that the speakers were talking about resonated with Challenge Wales’ own adventures and young people & adults who might be thinking of jumping onboard but haven’t made that leap:

  • Don’t be limited by your every day life and what is around you. If you want to do something and can put your mind to it then yes, it is possible. Your friends or family may not be up for it, your friends may question why you are doing it but if you want to do it then go for it – you will have a fantastic story to tell on your return and you will learn a lot from your experiences.
  • The toughest part is getting to the start of your adventure. Taking part in an adventure whether a week or a year takes commitment and money. But it was clear once you have made the decision to do something a bit of planning and working through things (such as looking at fundraising) can make a huge difference.
  • You will regret not doing it. We often find this with Challenge Wales. The stories of dolphins and whales surfacing alongside the Challenge Wales boat, the fun and camaraderie onboard, the various weather conditions, the team bonding, the singing, the personal challenges sailing brings,  the celebrations at different ports when we do events, the friends that you make and the experiences that you share which are like no other. We often hear “I want to do that” or “I wish I could do that”. Our response….talk to us as “You Can.”
  • You need to nudge your boundaries to stretch your comfort zone. Everyone’s comfort zone is different. For some this can be jumping on a train to a new destination never visited before in the UK or overseas, it might be experiencing a new mode of travel such as kayak or sailing boat. Trying something new can take you out of what’s familiar, trying something of a longer duration can test you, jumping out of your comfort zone takes you on your own personal adventure.
  • While you are on your adventure, others will be carrying on with their day-to-day lives. Whether you are away for a week or two, a summer, a season or a year the stories we were hearing is that you come back with lots of experiences and stories to share but little would have changed at home. Your adventure, might inspire others.

Thanks Women’s Adventure Expo for the inspiration, now who’s ready for a sailing adventure?!


Challenge Wales is an ex-round the world racing yacht but now offers big boat sailing adventures for those aged 12 – 70 years to learn life skills and broaden horizons. No sailing experience is required to take part. Our summer adventures Tall Ships Racing are aimed at those aged 16 – 25 years who can be partially funded through our own and other bursary schemes to take part- we believe everyone should have the opportunity to take part. if they want it and we work hard to make this happen.  Adult adventures in 2017 for those aged 18 -70 will see Challenge Wales sailing from Cardiff around the UK (from Cardiff to Belfast to Aberdeen before crossing the North Sea) to the Baltic in different legs. Talk to us today about your next sailing adventure with Challenge Wales!  The Challenge Wales sail training charity is looking at helping more women to jump onboard for our adventurous voyages and then to become volunteer crew.
For details of the next Expo and to get inspired visit www.womensadventureexpo.co.uk

Challenge Wales announced as finalist in South Wales Business Growth Awards

Being a charity means working hard all year round to continue to make a difference. Recruiting and training volunteers, identifying funding sources, planning and delivering fundraising activities, undertaking strategic planning sessions to ensure we are on target towards our vision while understanding external influences outside our control can impact at any moment, working with beneficiaries and youth workers to ensure what we do is meeting the needs of the young people, evidencing activities and report writing for funders, developing ideas, consulting with stakeholders to name a few …..it’s ongoing.

Young carers working towards their Youth Achievement Award on Challenge Wales.

Young carers working towards their Youth Achievement Award on Challenge Wales.

As a visual charity (if you haven’t seen it, we have a big boat), that involves sail training on what is probably Wales’ largest sailing boat and sail training vessel quite often it can be forgotten in what is going on behind the scenes and what it takes to develop our volunteers and develop young people to improve their employment prospects and be seen as leading the way and an authority in sail training.

So it is always a fantastic feeling when we get told we are finalists for an award. As a young charity, it hasn’t happened all that often to be honest, but what a great feeling it was today when we were told we were finalists in not just one, but two categories in the South Wales Business Growth Awards. YAY!!!!

          

The Awards recognise and celebrate achievements across nine key areas of business growth and Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship is pleased to be shortlisted as a finalist in the Innovation category and the People Development category. Our excitement levels at Challenge Wales HQ are bubbling over, we feel delighted that the hard work of our volunteers, our innovative approach to learning, our positive can-do attitude directed at everyone regardless of their background and ability to improve someone’s own development is being recognised.

Youth development voyages on Challenge Wales

Youth development voyages on Challenge Wales

Sail training is often seen as people just sailing a boat but it is so much more than that; it is empowering, it is about developing teamwork and communication skills, it is about developing leaders, it is using decision making and planning skills, time keeping skills, it is about personal development and improving self-confidence. It is about improving social skills, understanding Welsh culture, wildlife, sustainability, it is about reflecting on one’s life before the voyage and reflection during the voyage in what can be a challenging situation and putting the skills learnt into an everyday situation. It’s about broadening horizons, giving people opportunities, putting a life-changing experience onto a CV. It’s about fun and camaraderie and meeting people from different parts of Wales, the UK and the World and understanding new cultures.  It’s also a nice link that Challenge Wales has been nominated for a business award and we are helping young people to develop skills to help them to get employment. We talked about the above in a previous blog post talked about “What price do you put on a life-changing experience.” It’s certainly worth a quick read!

 

Dophins swimming alongside Challenge Wales

Dolphin Watching off West Wales onboard Challenge Wales. The charity is also part of a Citizen Science [climate change] project to measure plankton levels using onboard equipment

It is great to be a finalist in what is often dominated by commercial companies, who aren’t charities themselves. Even small charities, like us, should be shouting about what they do and their individual successes (even when human resources are really limited!) as being shortlisted can only help raise awareness of the work they do.
Being shortlisted for an award is a fantastic end to a fantastic Challenge Wales year!


The announcement of the finalists of the South Wales Business Growth Awards 2017 will be on Thursday 2nd March 2017 in Cardiff. 

There’s still time to celebrate Wales’ 2016 Year of Adventure

In 2016, Wales has certainly positioned itself as the UK’s top adventure destination.

For Visit Wales and the Welsh Government, 2016 was the ‘Year of Adventure’ bringing together people, venues & hospitality, Welsh destinations, Welsh activity providers and Ambassadors to put Wales on the adventure map.

Adventure is about discovering new and exciting places, having an unusual experience, being bold and just going for it. For some it is about pushing your limits and getting outside the comfort zone, for others it could be swapping GPS and mobile phone for a map, compass and walking boots or just visiting a new place for the first time and exploring at your own pace whatever your age or ability. And, the Year of Adventure is there to enable people to ‘#FindYourEpic’

Person on Challenge Wales getting ready to release the spinnaker

Getting ready to release the Spinnaker onboard Challenge Wales

Whether it is a zip wire, white water, wildlife & coast, mountain biking, castle, nostalgia  or festival that tickles your adventurous taste buds, Wales certainly has it.

With Wales having an impressive coastline, watersports should feature quite high up on an adventurers list. Rivers to explore by canoe or paddle board, wildlife to photograph, islands to visit, high speed boat rides to thrill and of course sailing.

Dophins swimming alongside Challenge Wales

Dolphin Watching off West Wales onboard Challenge Wales

With Wales having its own Tall Ship, Small Ship, Sail Training Vessel and round-the-world racing yacht that is there for those aged 12 – 75 to jump on – and yes, we are talking about one boat that ticks all those boxes – there has been no end of adventure in 2016 for those who have jumped onboard Challenge Wales. Some have been personal adventures, others have been memorable wildlife and cultural adventures.

Picture of Challenge Wales, wales' Tall Ship off Penarth Pier, near Cardiff

Adventurous activity near Cardiff

What’s more, Challenge Wales has not just been attracting people to Wales but has been flying the Welsh flag promoting Wales at the numerous events she has been part of this year on the South Coast of England, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Wales itself.

But there is still time to #FindYourEpic and have a last adventure in 2016 as Wales’ Tall Ship adventures out into the Bristol Channel one last time in 2016 for a sailing voyage on Tuesday 27th December 2016. This voyage is suitable for those aged 16 – 75 and lasts just one day but is ideal to find your inner adventurer, try something new, do something different and experience one of the many Welsh adventures Wales holds – whether on your own, or with friends. And, with no sailing experience necessary to take part it is an adventure for all abilities. Challenge Wales is looking for 10 adventurers to jump aboard – could it be you?!

Challenge Wales sailing in the Bristol Channel

Have your own adventure on Challenge Wales

 


 

Voyages on Challenge Wales are suited for particular age groups but the last voyage of 2016 on Bank Holiday Tuesday 27th December is suited for those aged 16 – 75 years. The voyage is suited for those with no experience who are wanting to try something new to those with significant sailing experience who are wanting to experience an ex-round the world racing yacht. The cost is £99 per person which includes; a day on the water, training, waterproof trousers and jackets, life jackets, refreshments throughout the day, curry meal, fun, excitement and adventure! www.challengewales.org All profits go to the Challenge Wales charity which works with young people to improve their employment prospects through a sail training programme.

From Wales to the other side of the world

Opening up a door of possibilities can actually mean opening up a world of possibilities.

Often you need to have the motivation to find that opportunity and, when an opportunity then passes by, have the enthusiasm to jump at it. For some people it is more difficult to find that motivation spark to ignite the hunt for a passing by opportunity. And, how do you know that opportunity (and the experience that it brings) is going to change you, or leave a footprint with you, for the better?

Sail training  helps people of all ages to develop their self-confidence (and not to mention teamwork, communication, resilience skills and more!) and once you have jumped aboard a sail training vessel then it can help provide the lighter paper so when a spark happens a world of possibilities can ignite. And, that is just what happened to someone who stepped aboard Challenge Wales – with no sailing experience – who then got to experience new countries and now there is an opportunity for others to do the same as part of a free International Exchange programme co-ordinated through ASTO the UK Association of Sail Training Organisations.

challenge-wales-australia-scholorship
Shannon’s Journey – From Cardiff Bay to Australia

Shannon, who decided to undertake a voyage on Challenge Wales in 2014, applied in 2015 for an Australian Tall Ship exchange and this gave her the confidence to start a career in sailing – something she had never thought about. Since applying for the exchange she has graduated from university, sailed on an Australian Tall Ship, completed a four month sailing course, became a crew member on yachts overseas, started skippering and became a sailing instructor working with other young people teaching them life skills, sailing and getting them to experience new places…and opening other doors of opportunity.  Now back in the UK, she spends time working with young people and planning the next adventure. But this all started with a voyage on Challenge Wales and an application to the UK Sail Training Association, which she says herself, didn’t think would be successful!

It’s not the sailing but the experience that has been life-changing; giving the opportunity to travel, meet new people and develop skills and confidence you never knew you had.

What’s stopping you broadening your horizons?

asto-international-exchange-challenge-wales


Challenge Wales offers a variety of sail training voyages, many of which are subsidised for young people aged 12 – 25 years. A young person who has sailed on Challenge Wales over the last 2 years, and is over 18, may be eligible to apply for a sail training International Exchange. For further details please visit the Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) website here.