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!?

 

 

 

 

Pub Quiz raises almost £200!

Move over Mastermind, University Challenge and Eggheads as this week it was the local Penarth pub quiz and a chance to raise money for Challenge Wales.

Teams of regular quizzers as well as volunteers from Challenge Wales came together at the Windsor Pub, Penarth, to test their  knowledge.

As the quizmaster read out the questions, it was heads down and pens to the ready. Faint whispers travelled around the bar & restaurant as we tried to recall our music knowledge from the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, guess the pictures round where we realised squinting at the pictures doesn’t really make any difference and put our general knowledge and geography to the test.

Many thanks to the companies and individuals who donated no fewer than 11 prizes for the fundraising raffle including:

The evening raised almost £200 for Challenge Wales and will contribute to the Challenge Wales bursary fund enabling young people to access our youth development opportunities. It’s a big thank you to everyone who took part!

In less than 10 months, the Windsor Pub has raised a whopping £4520 for local charities and whichever charity you are supporting it is certainly a really welcoming, social evening.


The Windsor Pub, Penarth hosts a community quiz the last Tuesday of the month raising funds for local charities. You can book directly with the pub or turn up on the evening.

A Severn Bridge Spectacle – Last voyage of 2017

With the tallest mast in the South Wales area (by the way it’s 95 feet which is almost the length of three UK double decker buses), going under bridges can be quite a worry….but not if you have calculated it correctly of course.

Luckily, Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship doesn’t go under many bridges on her sailing voyages but our last sailing voyage of 2017, in November, had the perfect tides, timings and weather to head under the Severn Bridge (connecting England to Wales) and as we had only sailed under the Severn Bridge a couple of times before, why miss this spectacular opportunity.

With the Severn Bridge coming up in the distance, everyone was getting excited. Most people onboard had driven over the Severn Bridge at some point but to see the bridge from underneath was a totally different experience.

Interestingly, and we find this with all bridges we sail under, the closer you get the more you start thinking how low the bridge is and how high the mast is…..as did the guests onboard.

As Challenge Wales sailed closer and closer towards the bridge, a faint muffle of words from someone was quietly heard ‘Do we have enough room to get under the bridge?’ Believe it or not, there was plenty of room for Challenge Wales to easily slip under the Severn Bridge with several metres between the top of the instruments/aerials that sit on the top of the mast and the bottom of the bridge.

For drivers tootling along the bridge, it must have been an interesting sight too.

Sailing under the Severn Bridge gave a welcomed change to our adult big boat sailing days, to charging around the Bristol Channel between Flatholm and Steepholm Islands.

And, we’re hoping the weather conditions will be just as perfect for when we attempt to do it again on Sunday 25th March 2018! Why not come and join us!?

CraftFolk Cardiff Christmas Market stalls

Squeezing a round-the-world yacht into Cardiff Christmas Market…..only joking!

We can’t believe how quickly the year has (almost) gone by. It didn’t seem that long ago that we were planning our Tall Ships summer of adventure, and then returning to Cardiff Bay after we had sailed over 4,000 miles, but there is still an opportunity to get involved with one of Wales’ innovative youth charity’s. In fact some of our activities don’t happen onboard the boat and this year we are excited to announce that we are going to have a stall at the Cardiff Christmas Market 2017 (cue roast chestnuts and mulled wine aromas drifting through the festive air and twinkling lights) from Thursday 9th November – Monday 13th November 2017.

When Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship attends maritime and sailing festivals, and we run open boat tours, we always enjoy talking to people about what we do. So being part of the Cardiff Christmas Market is an opportunity for adults, young people, parents, teachers, youth workers, companies and inquisitive minds to learn about an innovative charity that works with young people, an opportunity to speak to volunteers and learn about volunteering, an opportunity to hear about our adventures, including our adult-only fundraising voyages, get hands-on and feel what a sail made of Kevlar feels like (and yes, Kevlar is also used in bullet proof vests!) and be the first to know what’s coming up on the horizon.

For those who haven’t been able to jump aboard this year, or haven’t seen the boat this year nestled in Penarth Marina, and for those who want to learn more about Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship, you can come and talk to some of the team at the Cardiff Christmas Market in the centre of Cardiff for a few days in November.

We’ll be there from the opening night (Thursday 9th) for five days only (so our last day will be Monday 13th November)….but sorry, we won’t be bringing the largest yacht in Wales (she’s 72-feet long by the way)…but you will be able to get a good glimpse of her!

What’s in store on our stall….If you are looking for a unique Christmas present, then a Challenge Wales gift voucher for one of our voyages (including adult only voyages) might be for you….particularly if you are trying to buy something for someone who is hard to shop for! We’ll have those available to buy as well as our fundraising Challenge Wales bracelets! What’s more, you’ll be able to learn about our voyages, and how they have been helping young people develop life skills and move into employment.  We’ll also be able to show you how Challenge Wales is part of a global Citizen Science project with our Secchi Disk experiment. You can get tied up with our knot board and find out more about our adventure activities that can make your CV stand out from the crowd! And, we’d love to share with you how much fun we have onboard!!  So come and visit us…. we’ll be dropping anchor in between St David’s Hall and Miller and Carter, near the Hayes Island Café.

The Cardiff Christmas Market is a well-established festive event that provides a unique shopping destination and unusual gifts. Although Challenge Wales is only there from 9th – 13th November, the Market continues throughout December until Saturday 23rd December!

Cardiff Christmas Market pic courtesy of CrafFolk

 

Welsh plumbing company donates to Challenge Wales

When the Challenge Wales charity moved into their office in Penarth Town Centre they found only half the office had heating.

So one of their volunteers who runs a Newtown-based plumbing business Neil’s Plumbing came to the rescue and helped put the warmth back into the Challenge Wales team….as well as young people, volunteers and clients who visit the office!

It is great seeing support for a Welsh charity from a Welsh business, so a big thank you to Neil and Neil’s Plumbing!

But what made Neil want to give something back and do something for charity?  Neil said: “I am a volunteer crew member on Challenge Wales, I have previously worked for a large charity for many years and had got a little disillusioned with charity’s until I came across Challenge Wales, it was like a breath of fresh air literally, a very open charity that provides a great service to young people. It is amazing that within a one day sail for a young person it can leave a fantastic memory and sometimes life changing experience . I have donated and fitted a few radiators in the new office knowing that the money saved on this will go towards giving a young person a once in a lifetime experience aboard Challenge Wales and I wish the charity all the best.”

If you are thinking about your Corporate Social Responsibility policy or giving to charity, then why not have a friendly chat with Challenge Wales.

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.