Almost 3000 miles later, Challenge Wales Returns Home to Cardiff

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

Challenge Wales arrives into Harlingen at the end of the Tall Ships Races 2018. Pic courtesy of Sail Training International

 

Amazing Start for Challenge Wales in Tall Ships Races 2018

At the Tall Ships Races 2018 prize giving ceremony in Sunderland, Challenge Wales won the Social Media Award followed by an impressive start in the first leg of the Tall Ships Races.

Challenge Wales uses social media to engage with supporters, funders, parents/guardians, young people and volunteers. It’s a engaging way for us to try and capture some of the impact we are having, keep people updated on what we are doing and share our successes. Winning a drone as the prize was fantastic and something we’d wanted for a while. Having seen the Volvo Ocean Race onboard reporters using drones spectacularly at sea we wondered if we were a bit ambitious in even thinking it was going to fly and then return back to us (at the moment we have had a trial run on the quayside).

A very happy Challenge Wales Skipper sporting his reusable drinks bottle with one of the young people accepting our drone prize

Sunderland hosted a truly spectacular Tall Ships event. Flags and more flags could be seen fluttering in the wind and a great opportunity for photographers to capture some spectacular shots.

Pic courtesy of Sail Training International

In the afternoon of the 14th July, Challenge Wales headed out of the port for the Parade of Sail, and what better way to say goodbye to Sunderland. With spectacular square riggers, that Captain Jack Sparrow would be proud of, smaller vessels dressed with flags, seeing the International Tall Ships fleet sail out watched by thousands of people from shore is truly memorable.

Pic courtesy of Liam McCormick Photography

At 1945hrs we started our race and impressively were the first boat in our Class (Class C) to cross the start line. With young people onboard Challenge Wales and going straight into a night sail would certainly be a team bonding event.

By morning (15th July) Challenge Wales was in light airs in the wrong direction which are conditions that Challenge Wales doesn’t perform her best in but even so, she is still making a strong effort being 6th in Class and 6th for Line Honours.

The Tall Ships Races is one of the largest youth and cultural events in Europe and an event whose impact can’t be underestimated. It’s youth work in action and with no fewer than 8 different nationalities onboard Challenge Wales for this first leg it’s an experience that will be life-changing for many.

You can track Challenge Wales when she is racing here: http://yb.tl/tsr2018#

Don’t forget you can keep up to date with our adventures on twitter, facebook, instragram and linkedin. So give us a like or a retweet and show your support!


 

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.

We’re recruiting: Full Time Mate

As the Challenge Wales sail training charity expands we have a fantastic full time opportunity arising for someone who has the right sailing experience and wants to help young people develop their potential.

The Mate is a key role in supporting and assisting the Skipper in delivering the services of Challenge Wales. Most of the work Challenge Wales does is sail training; helping young people develop life skills through adventure sailing. Our voyages take us over the Welsh horizon to other parts of the UK as well as overseas. For the right person, this opportunity is perfect for adding onto your sailing or youth work CV. You will also be involved with the refit/maintenance programme and supervising volunteers during this activity.

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).

Read more about the Mate role including job description and how to apply…

Closing Date: 3pm, Wednesday 24th January 2018

If you don’t have the experience to apply for the above role then there could still be an opportunity for you, why not become one of our volunteer crew?

 

 

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

 

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!