Challenge Wales returns home after her biggest adventure yet

At the beginning of June 2017 Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship epic journey started as she left Cardiff in windy conditions, she is now set to return to Cardiff on Friday 25th August.

So before she returns lets look at a few top line figures about what happened this summer….

  • Challenge Wales sailed almost 4,100 miles
  • Challenge Wales represented Wales and the UK in one of the largest youth and cultural events in Europe
  • She was away from Cardiff for almost 80 days
  • Challenge Wales visited 14 countries – including Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland
  • Wind conditions blew in from a very frustrating 0 knots to an exhilarating 42 knots
  • 35 different ports were visited
  • Challenge Wales welcomed 10 different nationalities onboard
  • She motored through 3 canals (in Scotland, Germany and Holland)
  • The entire journey had different young people onboard for each leg on voyages that ranged from 8 to 14 days
  • Challenge Wales’ amazing volunteers donated over 9,200 hours of their time to mentor the young people and help the young people sail the boat
  • Young people were onboard for every day of our journey
  • Most of the young people onboard had never sailed before
  • The entire crew ended up in prison for one night….OK, it was for a party and the prison was a ‘tourist attraction’.

The reason why Challenge Wales was away was that she was taking part in the 2017 Tall Ships Races series in the Baltic. An event that is based around young people….so what are the stats around this event you wonder;

  • No fewer than 105 vessels took part in the 2017 Tall Ships Races series
  • These vessels represented 20 countries
  • Collectively these vessels had over 7,000 crew which each vessel being crewed by young people under the age of 26 years (in fact the rules are of Tall Ships Racing 50% of the crew has to be 15 – 25 years)
  • The largest Tall Ship measured over 122 metres
  • On one vessel there were over 200 crew (trainees and professional crew), that definitely beats our full compliment of 18!
  • End to end the vessels stretched almost 2 miles
  • Well over 2.5 million people visited the Tall Ships event making it Europe’s largest free family festival. Worth noting each port hosted the event for 4/5 days.

The Tall Ships Races 2017 Director, Mike Bowles said “The Tall Ships Races provide a unique opportunity for young people to go to sea to learn about themselves and others while developing skills that will stay with for life – it’s a proven life-changing experience. Young people taking part in these races become wonderful ambassadors for their home countries at the same time as learning about other cultures from different nationalities taking part. It was a great pleasure to see the Welsh sail training vessel Challenge Wales representing Wales. Challenge Wales is not only helping to raise awareness of Wales on an international scale but the Challenge Wales charity are to be congratulated for their continued commitment to the young people of Wales whose lives they are so positively influencing.” 

 

Emily (aged 17) from Llantwit Major said “I absolutely loved being on Challenge Wales. Working with a group of strangers, who then became good friends, in an extraordinary environment to meet our goals was fun and a great team-building experience”.

“I learnt that it’s ok to leave the comfort of your family and try something new” said Tyrone (aged 17) from Cardiff.

In the Tall Ships Races 2017 Challenge Wales finished 5th in Class and 18th overall which was an amazing achievement for all those onboard.

Challenge Wales is due to return to Penarth around 6.00pm on Friday 25th August. She will be sailing up from Lundy Island against the tide, past Penarth seafront and the Pier before heading through Cardiff Barrage. She should be heading into Penarth Marina briefly before heading across Cardiff Bay and into the Cardiff Harbour Festival for the Bank Holiday Weekend.

Thank you to everyone who has been involved in our summer of adventure!

 

40 knot winds and exhilarating sailing

Ex-hurricane Gert was going to create some windy conditions in the UK and this would mean exciting sailing on the horizon for Challenge Wales crew and trainees.

After a crew change in Amsterdam we left in light airs, engine on, to Boulogne, France. We motored non-stop through the night and at times with the very quiet chugging of the engine we craved some decent wind. But it gave an opportunity for those who were sailing for the first time (ever) an opportunity to learn the boat and gain confidence in helming.

An important part of when we visit ports is to explore and learn. We enjoy experiencing new cultures and that is exactly what we did that evening, enjoying a well-earned meal ashore in a quiet picturesque village although after a short walk around we were particularly drawn to one menu…

 

Les Gallois had arrived in France….or is it Les Welsh?

From France, our next stop would be the UK. It felt like an age since we had been in the UK (we had left Aberdeen on 23rd June) and although we were looking forward to being back in the UK and heading home, deep down there was an unsettling realisation that this was also the end of our amazing summer of adventure Tall Ships Racing.  The winds were starting to change as the UK called. We had to cross the Traffic Separation Scheme in the English Channel and then it was tacking towards Eastbourne.

We spent the evening nestled in Eastbourne and the following day the wind we had craved for certainly showed up!

The Challenge Wales vessel reports into the Challenge Wales office twice a day, every day, and this morning due to the strong winds, which would be on the nose, the Skipper advised that a short sail to Brighton Marina would be in order to break up a long sail to Gosport…..and as we left Eastbourne the winds were getting stronger.

It soon became clear as the winds strengthened that Challenge Wales wouldn’t be able to get into Brighton Marina and we had to stay out at sea. What was to follow was not just challenging and relentless but one of the best sailing experiences we’d encountered in a boat that was built for these conditions and a new-found team that were going to go through a bonding and memorable experience like no other.

Challenge Wales was built for sailing around the world ‘the wrong way’ into the prevailing weather and with the wind on the nose it was a hard beat to get from Eastbourne to Gosport. This is where Challenge Wales came into her own.

Over 40 knots of wind were recorded across the deck, waves were crashing relentless across the boat soaking the crew (if any wet weather sailing clothing manufacturers want to give us some samples to test we’d be more than happy to!), the boat would slam down into the waves…..but with it brought a new found exhilaration and excitement to those onboard. And when it was time for the watches to change over it was with reluctance that those onboard handed the helm over to the next person.

Tired, wet, adrenaline-fuelled and buzzing from what we had all just achieved (it had been a 16 hour experience!) it was 0300hrs by the time we all got into our bunks after being moored up in Haslar Marina, Gosport.

The following day, with the sun shining and a breeze wafting past our banner flags we couldn’t believe the epic adventure we had had the day before and we reflect that we wouldn’t have wanted to have been in any other boat, other than Challenge Wales as she helped us safely cross the high seas.


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.

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.