After almost 50 days away, Challenge Wales is returning home to Penarth today having had an amazing youth-led summer of adventure.
Having left her home port of Penarth Marina in June crewed by young people from Newport, Challenge Wales set sail for the South Coast for an adult fundraiser before heading to Sunderland for the start of the Tall Ships Races which would see us visit Esbjerg (Denmark), Stavanger (Norway), Harlingen (Netherlands) before returning into UK waters.
The rest of the summer would see young people jumping onboard representing no fewer than 10 different nationalities to experience one of the largest cultural, youth events in Europe as we represented Cardiff, Wales and the UK.
Those onboard would be racing, cooking, cleaning and running the boat…often jumping onboard with no experience whatsoever….but that’s fine as our volunteers and sea-staff help show everyone the ropes (literally!)
To get a snapshot of what was being experienced on Challenge Wales take a look at the film that one of our French trainees put together;
Although our summer has been fun, it has been educational which underpins all our activities.
From making ourselves more plastic aware and doing a litter pick at one of the ports we stopped at, to developing teamwork and communication skills, meeting young people from all over the world and understanding and accepting different cultures, to working in watches and strict routines, to broadening horizons and developing confidence and making new friends through adventure – It’s sail training in action. We are also proud to have given every young person who joined us a reusable drinks bottle to use during the voyage and to take home afterwards in our efforts to educate young people on the damage one-use plastic is doing to the environment.
49 young people have jumped onboard over the last few weeks, some were doing their Gold DofE, some were wanting to put something different onto their CV, some were onboard as they were deserving of a place and had been nominated for the experience while others were onboard working on an accredited environmental project. What was really good to see was that some of the young people who booked onto one leg, asked to stay on for the next voyage…so we must be doing something really special for that to happen!
What also made the Tall Ships Races exciting was not just the range of weather conditions from no wind to 35 knots, sailing non-stop through the night in watches or seeing a whale (albeit briefly), was that the Tall Ships fleet were trackable so parents, families and friends could follow our progress from home. With regular updates on twitter too, it really felt that you were there experiencing it with the young people!
Did you know that Challenge Wales volunteers helped deliver our summer adventures and this year amazingly 21 volunteers donated collectively almost 250 days of their time to make our overseas summer voyages happen?
And, with Wales’ sail training charity heading towards its 10th birthday next year, who knows what other exciting adventures are on the horizon and will be shared. #SharetheAdventure