Fantastic Finland and Lively Lithuania

Our Tall Ships adventure from Halmstad (Sweden) to Kotka (Finland) seemed to ‘sail’ by (pardon the pun). Although at times it did feel like we were bobbing around (oh, actually we were….check out our video!).

But once in Kotka, it was time to see the spectacular Tall Ships in port, take part in inter-crew sports activities and of course the famous Crew Parade.

As we said goodbye to our trainees in Kokta, we welcomed 10 more trainees onboard for the next voyage, a Cruise in Company to Turku (Finland). A Cruise in Company is the more relaxed part of the Tall Ships Races series as it gives the opportunity to explore new places.

A few days later we arrived in Turku and what a welcome it was.

We were proudly representing Wales and the UK and plenty of people lined the streets to wave at us in the crew parade, mind you we were doing a lot of waving to them.

Sail Training International reported that over 540,000 people turned out to the 4 day Tall Ships event in Turku, a record number for the port that has hosted a Tall Ships event no fewer than five times.

Credit: Sail Training International. Tall Ships getting ready for the next race from Turku to Klaipeda.

Catherine, one of our trainees onboard said the experience taught her a lot about working as a team: “For me the most valuable lesson I learnt was teamwork and the ability to form a close-knit and effective team from a group of people who were previously strangers”.

After the Parade of Sail in Turku, it was a night in a  new port, before heading to the start line of Race 2 to Klaipeda (Lithuania).

For this race, the wind was stronger than anticipated which made for a quick race and like many of the boats Challenge Wales arrived into Klaipeda earlier than expected.

Challenge Wales was first of the Class C vessels to physically cross the finish line. Which was fantastic for the team onboard. Well Done everyone!! Our final result with handicap is 8th in Class C.

Although we were one of the first vessels in port, and had now already spent a day in Klaipeda, today we decided to go out and do a bit of sailing to say hello to the square riggers that were in nearby waters. It enabled those onboard to get a bit closer to the larger boats, we did a Challenge Wales Mexican wave and cheered as we went past….our way of saying a Welsh hello to our fellow competitors.

We are now nestled back in Klaipeda….shoreside music is pumping out, the boats are in port, the party is about to begin. And what is on the horizon….more inter-crew sports, crew parade, crew party, cultural tours, saying goodbye to new friends….This is what Tall Ships Races is all about!


There is still time to join Challenge Wales on a summer voyage. There are a few berths available on the voyage departing the Tall Ships Races in the Parade of Sail in Szczecin (Poland) on 7th August to Amsterdam. Check out our sailing schedule…

 

 

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!

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.

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.