That Winning Feel for Adventure Wales Crew

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

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

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

And, embracing the opportunity is what happened.

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

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


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

Turn the Tide on Plastic Skipper Helps Launch Environmental Project

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

Dee Caffari Challenge Wales Volvo Ocean Race Village

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

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

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

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

Pic credits: Bekoh Photography

 

Adventure Wales Wins Environment Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Read about our sustainability activities here…

‘Amazing’ Win at Business Awards

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

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

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

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

So why did we win?

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

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

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

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


 

We're recruiting for new roles at Challenge Wales

We’re Recruiting For Two Roles!

Join us and share our amazing adventures!  As the Challenge Wales sail training charity expands we are on the hunt for a mate/relief skipper AND a freelance skipper. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone who has the right sailing experience, fun and enthusiastic outlook and wants to help young people develop their potential.

Mate/Relief Skipper

The Mate/Relief Skipper will be skippering on delivery voyages and when the Skipper is on leave as well as supporting the Skipper in delivering the services of Challenge Wales on its two vessels Adventure Wales and Challenge Wales.

Deadline for applications:  This post was first advertised in April 2018 and will remain open until a suitable candidate is found.

Click here to read the Mate/Relief Skipper Job Description

This role has been created as the Challenge Wales charity is supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government and through the Social Business Growth Fund, which is managed by WCVA (Wales Council of Voluntary Action).

Skipper (Freelance / Seasonal)

For the Skipper (Freelance / Seasonal)  role we are looking for someone with enthusiasm and passion for helping young people develop and leading a team with a good helping of fun thrown in.  Could this be you?

Deadline for Applications: This post was first advertised in April 2018 and will remain open until a suitable candidate(s) is found.  We will consider applications for Skipper at various times throughout the year. We are currently recruiting for the 2018 sail training season which has now started.

Read the Skipper Job Description and how to apply

Any enquiries regarding these roles can be directed to the Challenge Wales office.

Tall Ships Racing 2018

Nominate someone for a Tall Ships adventure

As Challenge Wales prepares its season, the sail training charity is on the hunt for 13 young people to take up one of its fully funded places in either the spectacular Tall Ships Races or the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta this year and is encouraging those aged 16 – 25 years to apply.

The award-winning charity already operates a bursary scheme to subsidise all UK residents to take part in its activities however, extra funding is enabling Challenge Wales to offer eight fully funded places, to those living in a CF postcode area across two of its nine day Tall Ships legs this summer which will sail from Denmark to Norway and race from Norway to the Netherlands onboard Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship. You can find out more by reading our Tall Ships Races Information pack.

A further five fully funded places are available on the charity’s smaller vessel Adventure Wales which will be participating in the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta, a 10 day experience, racing from Liverpool to Dublin before returning to Cardiff. You can find our more by reading our Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta Information Pack.

Fully funded berths are going to be offered to those young people who are nominated and are truly deserving of a place onboard for an amazing life-changing adventure. Young people can nominate themselves or ask a teacher, parent/guardian, employer, relative or group leader to nominate them.

Successful applicants will be joining the rest of the crew and racing against other Tall Ships from the international Tall Ships fleet and will be representing Wales and the UK at these spectacular events, and no sailing experience is required to take part.

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! There is 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, employees, 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 reservations@challengewales.org  or call 029 20 704 657.

Due to Easter holidays and some nominations not being eligible we have extended the deadline for applications to 10th May 2018 and applicants must be available to travel from 27th May – 5th June (for the Liverpool-Dublin-Cardiff voyage) or 20th – 28th July (for Denmark – Norway voyage) or 28th July – 5th August (for Norway to Netherlands voyage).


Read more information about both the Tall Ships Race 2018 and The Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta with full details of what the events are 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 as well as completing before and after voyage surveys. 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 after the voyage.

A £50 travel bursary is available for those taking part in the July/August Tall Ships voyages  that involve overseas ports. Participants need to make their own travel arrangements but Challenge Wales can provide guidance on this for those who want to make their own arrangements or direct you to a travel agent we are working with.

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 and you should email Challenge Wales to see what funding is available!

Success for Challenge Wales at Awards

On Friday 9th March 2018, a couple of Challenge Wales volunteers were at the South Wales Business Growth Awards in Cardiff Bay. It was time to leave the scruffy deck shoes and jeans at home and put on smart shoes and posh clothes.

The South Wales Business Awards recognise the amazing achievements of businesses in South Wales (as the name obviously  suggests!), many of them small, many of them innovative, many of them you probably wouldn’t recognise or have heard of but all of them making a difference to the Welsh economy.

Challenge Wales was excited to be shortlisted as a finalist in not one but two categories: People Development and Innovation. Having won the People Development category the previous year we knew it would be difficult with such fantastic businesses in the room to win it again but as always with Award events everyone was very optimistic about winning.

The evening also gave us an opportunity to network amongst some businesses we were already getting to know and were supportive of Challenge Wales. Relationship building is really important to Challenge Wales.

Amazingly, Challenge Wales picked up two Highly Commended Awards (yay) in both the People Development Category AND the Innovation Category. It means a lot to be recognised in the business world for our achievements and our impact, it is great recognition for our volunteers who work tirelessly to help the charity. Winning an award is a great talking point when we go to meetings, it’s a fantastic opportunity to share success amongst our stakeholders and our young people’s groups and funders.

As with most events, there is a ‘financial cost’ to us attending awards however, before we ever book our attendance at any awards event we balance up the benefits. The value and support that we get from being part of the South Wales business networking group which the awards are part of certainly outweighs the cost, and it is this networking group that has introduced us to so many other local businesses who have gone on to support Challenge Wales both directly with fundraising or in-kind with support to help us successfully achieve our charity objectives. These kind of relationships make everyone a winner!



All Aboard as Mate Position is Filled

The only salaried sea-staff position within the Challenge Wales charity has now been filled and we are excited to announce that Shannon has joined the team as Mate, supporting and assisting the Skipper in delivering sail training activities, supervising volunteers, helping to manage the volunteer training programme and taking an active role in the refit/maintenance programme.

She joins at an exciting time as the charity has also recently acquired a second vessel.

In between servicing some of the winches onboard Challenge Wales today we asked Shannon a couple of questions about her now job and aspirations. Shannon said: “I applied to be the Mate at Challenge Wales because I wanted to be a part of the incredible work the charity does. A few years ago I joined as a trainee on board but didn’t realise at the time it was the start of many sailing adventures! I’m excited to now be able to contribute to other’s positive experiences and inspire young people to follow a different path in life. My goal is to progress to working as Skipper for the charity in the future and I am most looking forward to expanding my knowledge of boat systems and engineering.”

Challenge Wales is keen to support more women to get into the sail training/ marine industry and a few months ago was part of the Only Girls Afloat initiative by RYA Cymru. Challenge Wales is also running two ladies only voyages on 23rd June and 2nd September.

 

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.

Plastic Marine Litter on our Doorstep

Marine litter has been a part of Challenge Wales’ sail training adventures over the years. It’s taken teamwork to recover disused fishing nets that were just left bobbing in the sea and deliver them to a local marina, we’ve sailed past thinning, faded, plastic carrier bags and been nestled in marinas where a change of wind direction and raised river levels have created masses of driftwood and ‘drift plastic’ to congregate. Even on a quiet, windless day, white items of plastic including empty drinks bottles, sweet wrappers and straws can be seen floating in Penarth Marina.

Over the last eight months we’ve been researching the unfantastic plastic and marine litter problem to see how we can really make a difference. We’ve been speaking to organisations who are playing their part nationally in Wales so that we know who to feed our findings or research into, we’ve been doing some market research and thinking about how our future actions can link into the bigger picture….and what a big picture it is becoming.

Challenge Wales plays a large educational role within Wales. Not just in alternative curriculum programmes and accredited learning but through our engagement with children and adults within school, college, university and the work place who jump onboard and into our outdoor classroom. In 2018, to underpin our educational programme and youth adventures will be awareness of marine litter and one-use plastic with a particular focus on plastic water bottles. We want to help change thinking in a throw-away society and bring some new conversations to the table and the people, organisations and suppliers we work with.

TV programmes, blogs, newspapers, social media, conversations, radio have been great in raising awareness of the plastics issue but what next?

Like many, we watched the recent BBC programme Blue Planet II, like many (no doubt) we ordered the free Oceans Poster/Educational pack that was advertised after the show to help us learn more about marine life and the issues around microplastics and marine litter, and to share this knowledge with those who come onboard. With anticipation when our pack arrived we ripped open the plastic package it came in, and like many (hopefully) we popped the plastic envelope in our recycle bin. We had assumed it was recyclable, it must be, surely?!

Our plastic envelope had a 5 PP symbol on it. It’s got recycling arrows on it so must be ok to recycle, surely?

And, this is where awareness kicks in. We had assumed a few arrows in a triangle shape had meant it was recyclable and our local council website suggested all plastics can be recycled, but an online search revealed a Grade 5 plastic made from Polypropylene (shown as PP on the envelope) might not be. But surely such a powerful programme about our oceans and the importance of protecting them in which David Attenborough warned that plastic pollution was one issue that was threatening our oceans wouldn’t get the Open University to send out information in a package that was at the heart of the problem?

A quick call to the Open University, who had despatched the information, gave us not quite the answer we were looking for. But they said: “It can’t be recycled in your kerbside collection but you will need to find a supermarket that recycles carrier bags and they should be able to take it”. But if the plastic packaging was in fact recyclable then why did a packet of muffins with exactly the same logo on it have “Currently not recyclable” stamped clearly on the packaging?

So does this mean there are different plastic composites within different plastic packaging so that even with the same symbol some can be recyclable and some can’t?!

 

So, we went and did a teeny weeny bit of market research and showed 16 volunteers our empty plastic envelope that our poster had come in, followed by the unrecyclable muffin pack and pointing out the same logo, followed by putting our Open University/Blue Planet Poster back into the plastic envelope and re-circulating it. Gosh, what a gasp there was. OK it was a small sample size but it was proving a point. The majority thought that the plastic envelope was unrecyclable, with a couple suggesting to check it out with the council as it might be. And, with most thinking it was unrecyclable there was the shock and questions asked as to why was a programme raising awareness of plastic issues providing us with information in an unrecyclable plastic envelope.

It’s an interesting conversation piece! With our local supermarket advising us that they don’t do carrier bag recycling anymore it now looks like the plastic envelope that our Blue Planet/Open University poster came in….is not going to be able to be recycled and the consensus is that it wasn’t recyclable in the first place. But even if it was recyclable with the information we’ve received it was probably going to be disposed of in the refuse with the risk of becoming marine litter/microplastics and contributing to the problem. Can’t all packaging be labelled in the same way to help the consumer, clearly like our Muffins pack?

Challenge Wales is now going to be helping to turn the tide on plastic through our educational and adult programme and having more conversations like this.

Our first step, yes – you can probably guess, is the one-use plastic water bottle. The Challenge Wales charity hasn’t purchased bottled water to go onboard the boat since it’s been operating. We carry our own water (yep that’s a whopping 1,760 litres of it on Challenge Wales and an almost equal amount on Adventure Wales) so we’ll be discouraging (as we progress to banning) everyone from coming onboard with a single use plastic water bottle and, with financial support, our aim is to be able to provide ALL our guests with a refillable water bottle.

This is the start of our own awareness as we bring the conversation of one use plastic and the impact of marine litter to the table.


As of writing this our plastic envelope is sat in the office on the desk as we really hope it is recyclable.

Challenge Wales sail training vessel has Blue Flag Status through Sail Training International. Blue Flag is a programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education and we play our part through our actions and education in protecting our marine environment.