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!?

 

 

 

 

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/

Adventure Wales has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government.

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…

Adventure Wales has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government.

‘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!!


 

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!

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.

Challenge Wales New Vessel

Charity expands activities with second vessel

We’re excited to announce that we’re expanding our activities following the Challenge Wales charity taking ownership of a second ocean-going vessel.

The 60ft two-masted schooner, currently named Ocean Venture, was built for adventure and over the years she has circumnavigated the world, won First in Class in the famous Round the Island Race, raced in numerous transatlantic activities (including the ARC) and taken part in the international Tall Ships Races. More recently she has been used in outreach work providing teamwork and leadership opportunities with disadvantaged people.

Picture of Ocean Venture courtesy of Ocean Venture
Picture courtesy of Ocean Venture website

The new vessel will enable the Challenge Wales charity (which currently runs Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship) to expand its sail training activities into North Wales and strengthen the charity’s current activities in West Wales, Ireland and other ports around the UK. As the boat is slightly smaller than the larger Challenge Wales yacht she will be able to explore new ports, marinas and anchorages which were not possible in Challenge Wales enabling more young people to access sail training opportunities.

Sail training is about learning life skills which can build confidence, teamwork and employability skills. During 2017 the charity introduced accredited learning through Agored Cymru which has helped increase the number of young people it currently works with.

The project has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government and through the Social Business Growth Fund, which is managed by WCVA (Welsh Council of Voluntary Action).

The boat had been based in Cowes, Isle of Wight, and over four days, Challenge Wales volunteers sailed her up to her new port of Penarth, near Cardiff Bay, in time for the New Year. With 2018 being celebrated in Wales as The Year of the Sea, the Challenge Wales charity will be using both vessels to continue to play its part in inspiring and developing young people in what should be an epic year.

 

 

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.

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.