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

 

Farewell to the Baltic

After departing Cardiff on 9th June for our summer of adventure, this week was the week that we said goodbye to the last port in the Baltic that was hosting the Tall Ships Race series…..and oh my goodness, what a port that was.

Szczecin (Poland), became the sailing capital of Europe welcoming the Tall Ships fleet for the third time.  From small vessels like Challenge Wales (22 metres in length…and even smaller!) to traditional barques of over 100 metres the fleet arrived over a few days to the shores of the Oder.

Our racing from Klaipeda (Lithuania) to Szczecin had been quite quick enabling Challenge Wales to make its way from the back half of the fleet to the second boat in the fleet with the finish line in sight, although light winds then spread across the fleet which meant some of the larger vessels at the back of the fleet struggled to progress at a favourable pace. We were physically the second boat to cross the finish line and had our highest position yet taking 4th in Class (C). It was well earned by those onboard who had been working 3 hours on and 3 hours off.

As we motored into the City which is around 60km from the sea (!) (we were under instructions not to be too close to the vessel in front) the reason was that each vessel’s national anthem was played (note this was the UK national anthem rather than the Welsh one) which we weren’t expecting. We lowered our ensign and all of us stood on deck. It was a moment that felt quite special for everyone.

Once in port, the shore-side celebrations and events started which was an opportunity for all the crews to meet and share their experiences as well as making new friendships. Crews wearing branded tee shirts mixed with the formality of white sailor suits and trimmed hats.

The infamous international crew parade was a mass of colour, vibrancy, noise and music as we paraded almost 3 miles through the City streets to the Summer Theatre, Poland’s biggest amphitheatre. Representing Wales and the UK we were waved, photographed and cheered on by thousands of onlookers that in some places stood 10 people deep.

One of our trainees said about the crew parade “Walking around the City, waving at the crowds, it was like being famous”

Music and festivities were at the heart of Szczecin Tall Ships Races, spectacular fireworks lit up the sky, the boats glowed in the sparkle and thousands of people could be seen watching from the shore.

pic courtesy of Tall Ships Races Szczecin

Thousands partied at the concert, performers one evening were from ‘The Voice Poland’ while another evening Andrea Bocelli performed, all of which took place just opposite Challenge Wales.

Pic courtesy of Tall Ships Races Szczecin

We also had time to explore….this time underground, in the sprawling tunnel network beneath the city streets that were bomb shelters in the 1940’s. Bringing history to life and enabling visitors not to forget the past.

We saw spectacular sunrises and sunsets which always makes an early morning worthwhile and were amazed at the Szczecin hospitality. We were all made to feel welcome, nothing was too much trouble and if we needed any help or assistance people (in particular a big thank you goes to our lovely Liasion Officers Monica and Aga) couldn’t do enough for us.  We even had fresh bread arriving onboard every day which we all enjoyed eating.

Pic courtesy of Tall Ships Races Szczecin

Catherine who was onboard one of our voyages said “I would encourage anyone who was thinking about taking part in sail training as I believe it has provided me with really valuable skills that I will need in life; for example the ability to form an effective team of people who previously never knew each other.”

Photo of Tall Ships at Tall Ships Races 2017 in Szczcecin
Pic courtesy of Tall Ships Races Szczecin..and yes, that is people around the Tall Ships!

 

At 0645hrs (yes, it really was that early) on Tuesday 8th August we let go of our lines and waved goodbye to a City we truly hope to return to on our travels. One by one the Tall Ships fleet left, we were proudly flying our Welsh flag and as we departed the bellows of horns cut through the air as the larger vessels said goodbye to us.

So after taking part in 3 races, one of which had no wind, our final position was 5th in Class and 18th overall, a great performance as we were crewed by young people with most of them having no sailing experience….and of course that is just one part of what sail training is all about!

Our adventure continues and you can be part of it…


Challenge Wales heads from Szczecin to Amsterdam, then to Gosport before returning to Cardiff for the August Bank Holiday. If you missed out on this year’s activities then why not take part in 2018? Our schedule isn’t released as yet as we are still putting it together but you can sign up to our newsletter if you want to stay in touch. Volunteering opportunities are also available.

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!

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


 

 

8 top tips for your DofE Gold Residential

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE Award) is the world’s leading youth achievement award for those aged 14 – 24 year olds. With three levels (Bronze, Silver and Gold) the award enables young people to try new things, be inspired, help others and meet new people along the way while building confidence and independence.

The awards have different sections which need to be completed: Physical, Volunteering, Skill and Expedition and an extra section for the Gold Award is the Residential.

So, you’re thinking about your Gold Residential….now what?! We’ve put 8 top tips together to help you!

  1. Where you go and what you do is important – a Gold Residential is a great excuse to get out there and do something really exciting, something different that you’ve never done before – and maybe never thought you would be able to do; something that will challenge you, and something you will remember for the rest of your life!
  2. Don’t limit yourself to the UK, there are plenty of opportunities overseas and an international perspective can give additional benefits. What’s more, this will look great on your CV and a fantastic experience you can talk about in job or university interviews putting you above other applicants.
  3. Base your choice on your interests: eg. helping others in need, or creating new facilities and activities, or learning new skills for yourself.
  4. Wash away those exam cobwebs or workplace blues! It really is the best thing after all that intense brain work!
  5. It’s not just about where you go and what you do – it’s about who you do it with!
  6. This is a chance to meet up with all sorts of people from all sorts of places – young people like you, who are looking for friends, fun and adventure! Many lifelong friends have been made on a residential. They will be a bit nervous, just like you.  They will be wondering if they have made the right choice. They will probably feel a little homesick at first, missing family and friends.  But very soon, they will have made a great new friend – You!
  7. Don’t despair over costs: the DofE Gold Award is well known and respected, you will get support from others to help you achieve your goals – you can raise some extra cash by doing a sponsored event, or applying for bursaries.
  8. Commercial providers can often be expensive – look at registered charities, who will be organising real, worthwhile experiences that you can feel glad to be involved with. As mentioned above, bursaries are sometimes available through some charities to also help you.

Your DofE Gold Residential will be a blast! Now is your chance to make it happen… Whatever it is, you can be sure it will be a positive and memorable experience!

HRH Prince Edward onboard Challenge Wales, before departing for the rest of his Royal visit in Cardiff to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the DofE

Did you know? Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship is just one of those great opportunities waiting for you to grasp. Challenge Wales is an Approved Activity Provider for the DofE and what’s more provides bursary funding to help young people jump aboard making it even easier to do something fun and exciting for your Gold Residential whether in the UK or overseas.

Look out beyond your horizons and sail away to adventure
for your DofE Gold!


Any of Challenge Wales’ voyages of 5 days or more qualify for Gold Residential , including the Tall Ships Races that Challenge Wales takes part in overseas  AND all these voyages have bursary funding available making it even easier to jump onboard. You just need to apply by contacting Challenge Wales! Don’t miss out! No sailing experience is required to take part in Challenge Wales’ activities.

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

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.