There’s FUN in our FUNdraising

It was a day of fundraising on the water as Challenge Wales joined no fewer than 1,116 boats that had entered the iconic Round the Island Race.

A Race, around the Isle of Wight, that started in 1931 with just 25 boats, it has now become one of the largest yacht races in the world and a fantastic spectacle to watch from the water or the land.

Round the Island Race brings in much needed funds into the Challenge Wales charity and while adults onboard, who have paid for a berth, are having fun racing, by racing they are actually supporting young people to come on board for our youth development activities, which takes learning outside the classroom and out to sea, as all profits go to directly support the Challenge Wales charity.

For some it was their first time racing but the teamwork, communication, leadership, resilience and comraderie that is required in a race is exactly what is needed onboard Challenge Wales when sailing with young people. Throw in whatever the weather is going to bring and a sprinkle of fun and jumping onboard our boat, into sometimes the unknown, becomes a fantastic, memorable experience.

Challenge Wales was racing against two other Challenge 72’s and beat them across the finish line, being the 35th boat in the race to finish and finishing in a time of 6 hours 31 minutes and 31 seconds, one of her quickest times.

Challenge Wales is no stranger to racing as although she raced around the world twice, her youth work activities take her overseas Tall Ships Racing where she is crewed by 16 – 25 year olds as well as Small Ships Racing in the UK.

Of those onboard were four young people, aged 18 – 25, who were part of the team, all of whom had sailed before on Challenge Wales on previous one day or longer residential voyages.

With COVID restrictions stopping us taking part in this event in 2020 and 2021 it is a big thank you to everyone who jumped onboard to make Round the Island Race a special one for us!

To check out some of the highlights from the day (and Challenge Wales does make a couple of appearances) check out the highlights video here.

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If you are interested in joining us for an adult voyage, corporate activity or you are wanting to learn more about our youth work and young persons outdoor education programme then visit www.challengewales.org

Students learning navigation on Challenge Wales

Youth Work Week 2022

This year’s Youth Work Week theme is Wellbeing. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the youth work sector; innovation, achievements and resilience while focusing on the 5 steps to wellbeing.

Evidence from NHS and Mind shows there are 5 steps to wellbeing; Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give. And Challenge Wales’ innovative youth work programme, its sail training programme which takes young people to sea, naturally encompasses these.

During Youth Work Week we are working with young people at sea who are sailing Challenge Wales from Cardiff, around Lands End, to Gosport and then racing with over 1,000 boats in one of the most iconic events in the nautical calendar. It’s a challenge, but one of the best opportunities to learn teamwork skills, resilience, communication, develop confidence, have fun while meeting different people.

So how do our activities link in with the 5 steps to wellbeing?

CONNECT: Social relationships and being valued are so important for people’s wellbeing. In sail training you will be speaking to new people, you will be connecting with your friends, our volunteers (who are informal youth workers) will be asking how you are getting on and, working as part of a team onboard gives you that sense of belonging.

BE ACTIVE: Regular activity is associated with reducing depression and anxiety across all age groups. Chemical changes in your brain can positively change your mood while doing exercise. Although we will be sailing on a boat, you will be winching and hoisting sails, moving around the boat and using different muscles to keep you balanced. Having some downtime in the evening onboard means a nice stroll to explore a new port, and getting those steps in. Sail training gives you a good workout in the outdoors.

Young people hoisting a sail on a tall ship

TAKE NOTICE: Being in the present moment can help your mental wellbeing. Take notice of your thoughts, your feelings, your body and the world around you. When out at sea you will have time to sit and reflect, to relax and talk to appreciate the salt spray on your skin and breathing the fresh air. You will be keeping a look out while on board so being aware of what is around you is important.

LEARN: Our amazing volunteer crew are there to help you learn and that will happen from the moment you step onboard. From learning about sea safety, to learning how to put up sails. Learning about ocean literacy, plankton and microplastics to learning nautical terminology. Evidence shows learning a new skill can boost confidence and self esteem while helping you to connect with your fellow crew mates.

GIVE: Small acts of kindness can help your mental wellbeing. While our volunteers are donating their time to crew a sail training voyage, those taking part in the voyage will all play their part. Helping to tidy up, helping to wash up, helping to look after each other. Our boats sail best when we have a very happy crew so looking after each other is key.

Happy Youth Work Week everyone.

If you’re interested in jumping onboard Challenge Wales or Adventure Wales to improve your mental health and wellbeing, connect to the ocean, make new friends, learn a new skill or hone an old one then get in touch by calling 029 20 704657 or emailing the Challenge Wales office.

Young people winching onboard Challenge Wales yacht

Boat Camp Is Back

Following the success of our first Boat Camp in 2021, we’ve launched another date for Boat Camp for those that are a little bit older aged 16 -25 years.

Although most young people jump on Challenge Wales or Adventure Wales boats as part of a group, we know that being part of a group isn’t possible for everyone and that was when Boat Camp was realised.

The next Boat Camp is Thursday 14th April and is a full day on the sail training vessel Adventure Wales. No sailing experience is required to take part and all waterproofs and equipment is provided.

Those onboard might be interested in trying something new, improving their social skills or learning new activities as part of a team. The day voyage is great for those looking to put something on their CV and highlight those important soft skills, while others are looking to just have a day on the water with like-minded people. The activities onboard help people understand more about ocean literacy, are evidenced to improve mental health and wellbeing and give young people an opportunity to learn more about having a career at sea and future opportunities. Our experienced crew will be there to help everyone get the most out of the day and support them.

The full cost for the day is £95 but a guaranteed bursary is available to reduce the cost to £50. Should a participant require further financial assistance then an additional bursary of £20 is available which reduces the full cost to just £30. Fundraising has made the bursary possible, but if someone doesn’t require a bursary then they can pay what they can afford (between £30 and £95) and the bursary not utilised will go towards helping someone else to come onboard.

To book a place, please email the Challenge Wales office or call 029 20 704657.

Download the Boat Camp poster here!

Image of Challenge Wales and Adventure Wales and young people

We’re Recruiting | New Year, New Job, New Adventures!

Set sail on a different course in 2022. We’ve got exciting roles that will take you to sea but also keep you on land, from marketing to Skippering.

Our amazing team of volunteers, staff and Trustees put young people first and love the thought that adventures at sea, and on our sail training vessels, can turn lives around and broaden horizons.

We’re now looking to grow the team in 2022 and we are excited to be recruiting for;

* Skipper – not just someone who can sail our vessels but also someone who can manage the maintenance. Leading and inspiring others, this is a full time role for the 2022 season.
* Mate / Relief Skipper – Predominantly a Mate role but stepping up to Skipper to cover leave rota’s. Working with young people and managing the deck this will be a fun, hands-on role for the 2022 season.
* Social Media Marketing Assistant – Supported by the Government’s Kickstart programme this is a 6 month placement. Perfect for gaining solid social media experience and bolstering a CV. If you know your Tik Toks from your Insta then come and jump onboard and help us share our story.
* Volunteer Co-ordinator Assistant – Volunteers are the backbone of Challenge Wales and this role is about making volunteering easy and rewarding for everyone. Perfect for gaining admin experience this is a 6 month placement supported by the Government’s Kickstart programme.

Visit the Jobs page to find our more about these roles and how to apply. Set sail on your new adventure today.

Welsh Charities Week 2021

Welsh Charities Week is taking place between 15th – 19th November 2021 and is the opportunity to shine a light on the amazing work that Welsh Charities and their volunteers do across Wales.

Challenge Wales has worked with a diverse range of organisations and individuals, not just in Wales but throughout the UK and overseas, and all of this is delivered with the help of our amazing team of volunteers onboard our sail training vessels; Challenge Wales | Wales Tall Ship and Adventure Wales.

Supported by ITV Cymru Wales and hosted by the WCVA (Welsh Council for Voluntary Action) this is a great opportunity for Challenge Wales to shout about its innovative youth work which takes people to sea.

Activities onboard Challenge Wales’ vessels help young people learn essential life skills, broaden their horizons, improves mental health and helps people understand about sustainability in a hands-on way. The award-winning charity offers an accredited learning programme onboard the largest sailing boat in Wales and although South Wales is the home port for Challenge Wales and Adventure Wales, activities take them to West Wales, North Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England and overseas.

Read more about the impact of Challenge Wales sail training activities on young people.

Young people hoisting a sail on a tall ship

Boat Camp: Half Term Adventures for 14 – 18 year olds

Join us this October Half Term for a day of adventure and fun with Challenge Wales.

Boat Camp is a day voyage for 14 – 18 year olds that will start and finish in Penarth, near Cardiff Bay, and take place on one of our sailing boats on Thursday 28th October 2021.

Onboard you will meet new people, make new friends, take part in teamwork activities, build confidence while having lots of fun.

No sailing experience is needed to take part and all equipment and waterproofs are provided. This day is suitable for individuals to join us, homeschoolers and those looking to do something very different this Half Term holiday.

A bursary is available to subsidise the activity. Cost per person is £50 (which includes a £45 bursary) and the day will start around 9.30am and finish around 4.30pm.

To book or for more information, email the Challenge Wales office.
You can also call 029 20 704 657.

Picture of young person on the helm of sailing yacht Challenge Wales

Free Drop-In Event in Cardiff Bay

Join Challenge Wales and other activity providers at a free drop-in event, 3pm – 7pm on Tuesday 7th September at Cardiff Bay Yacht Club.

The event is open to young people, teachers, group leaders and community groups to highlight the sailing opportunities that are available in Cardiff Bay.

The aim of the event is to get more young people on the water and as well as being able to jump onboard for a free tour of Challenge Wales, there are other opportunities to have a taster sail on the bay with the teams from Cardiff Watersports Centre and Cardiff Bay Yacht Club.

There is also the opportunity to speak to the Challenge Wales Team and other watersports providers to learn how sailing helps with young people’s mental health, develops their life-skills to help their confidence and employability prospects, how sailing links in with STEM learning and how to get started in sailing.

Whether you have an hour free to have a go or just 10 minutes to drop in and learn more, the Challenge Wales Team would love to see you as well as the other partners supporting the event.

This event is being supported by RYA Cymru Wales (The National Governing Body of sailing in Wales), All-Afloat (The leading Welsh charity supporting opportunities to get young people into sailing), Cardiff Bay Yacht Club (who are hosting the event and providing taster sailing sessions), Cardiff Watersports Centre (owned by Cardiff Harbour Authority and deliver boating opportunities in the Bay) as well as Challenge Wales (who provide accredited learning and life-skills development opportunities as well as volunteering, sailing and adventures at sea).

The free event is being held at Cardiff Bay Yacht Club, Ferry Road, Cardiff, CF11 0JL. Free parking is available. Although you don’t need to register, if you do plan on attending it is helpful if you let us know you are coming by emailing Phil.tilley@All-afloat.wales

Run For Us In The Virtual London Marathon

Are you ready to take on the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon for #TeamChallengeWales and by doing so support more young people to participate in our life-changing youth development programme?

The London Marathon is one of the most iconic running events in the world and now it’s your turn to be part of its history.

When: Sunday 3rd October 2021
Where: Anywhere
Start / Finish of event: 00:00hrs – 23:59:59hrs (BST)

This year the Virgin Money London Marathon is set to be the world’s largest marathon with 100,000 participants. 50,000 taking part on the streets of London (in the traditional London Marathon from Blackheath to the Mall) and 50,000 taking part around the world in the virtual London Marathon.

You can join us on the course of your choice; round your neighbourhood, through Cardiff, Plymouth or Aberdeen, it’s your choice, it’s your course. You will have almost 24 hours to run, walk or jog the 26.2 miles which makes the virtual Virgin London Marathon really achievable for all abilities.

Registration Fee: £20
Sponsorship Pledge: £200

The Sponsorship Pledge is the minimum amount of sponsorship (not including Gift Aid) we would like our virtual London Marathon runners, joggers and walkers to aim to achieve although it can be more than this.

To help you achieve the distance, the London Marathon app will help you bring the virtual experience to life, with an exclusive audio commentary featuring famous voices!

How to sign up and be part of #TeamChallengeWales
If you would like to join #TeamChallengeWales and be part of the Virtual London Marathon then please APPLY HERE.
We will then be in touch to advise how to pay your registration fee and then we will help you set up your fundraising page for donations. Please note we have 5 virtual places for the 2021 London Marathon and runners need to be registered by 16:00hrs 16th July 2021
We will then promote your fundraising page on our social media channels and website to help you raise even more! It’s that simple.

If you would like to speak to us about a virtual place then please email the office.

If you’ve got your own place in the Virgin Money London Marathon why not run for Challenge Wales?

How money raised will help disadvantaged young people?
Challenge Wales is a predominantly volunteer-run charity that works with disadvantage young people enabling them to develop their life skills to improve their potential and prospects in life. Our activities at sea onboard our two sail training vessels develop teamwork skills, communication skills, improve self-confidence and improve mental health. Skills that are necessary to help young people move into work, education or training. Your donations and sponsorship will enable Challenge Wales to continue its programme of voyages and work with more young people who need focus and direction and opportunities to help them to succeed. To find out more, why not read some of our case studies.

Two boats sailing in Wales

*Updated* Statement regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

As COVID-19 (Coronavirus) turns normality upside down and lockdown eases, we are aware that this can be unsettling for everyone so we want to let you know what is happening at Challenge Wales HQ.

UPDATE 1st June 2022: Challenge Wales does not require you to undertake a lateral flow test but if you do have one available then you are encouraged to test prior to coming onboard. Should you exhibit symptoms then you should take a test and only come to the boat if it is negative. If you have symptoms OR test positive & don’t have symptoms, Day 1 is the day after you exhibit symptoms or do the test (whichever is earlier). You should isolate for 5 days and take a lateral flow test on Day 5. If it is negative on Day 5 and 6 then you can come to the boat.

Our COVID Guarantee: We want you to book with total confidence and not worry about your voyage so should we not run a trip or postpone a trip (due to COVID) or you test positive for COVID prior to an activity and you can’t join us, we will offer you an alternative voyage, hold your money for a future trip or provide you with a refund. The choice is yours. If you hold a Challenge Wales Gift Voucher, and COVID stops you redeeming it, then your voucher will be extended (at no additional cost) for an additional 6 months, or longer if there are lockdown restrictions, giving you plenty of options to jump onboard. Should you wish to take advantage of our COVID Guarantee, we will require proof of COVID so please send us a screengrab of your positive test result when it is reported through the NHS App.

UPDATE 14th February 2022: Wales is in Alert Level 0 however, there are still COVID protocols in place onboard both our vessels. All voyage participants and crew will need to provide a negative lateral flow test on the morning of their voyage. These tests are available for free.

UPDATE 30th May 2021: As our voyages resume on limited capacity, we will be requesting all participants and crew to provide a negative lateral flow test on the morning of the voyage. These tests are available free of charge and details. Challenge Wales day voyages will resume on 1st June 2021.

UPDATE 20th April 2021: The Challenge Wales office has reopened and keeping our guests and crew safe is our priority. At all times we will be following Government Guidance.

Our proposed roadmap is subject to change and further clarification:
* 31st March 2021: Organised Outdoor Activities for Children (Under 18’s) can restart. This will include our shore-side Sea and Tell programme with social distancing and masks and restrictions in place. We will be starting with groups who are in a bubble before opening this up to non-bubbled groups.
*18th April 2021: Staff/Volunteer training to recommence with limited numbers and government guidance and RYA Cymru guidance being followed
*Mid May/Beg June 2021: Adult day voyages can restart with limited numbers. Youth day voyages can restart with limited numbers.
*21st June 2021: Residential activities will restart for young people. This may include limited numbers or being in a bubble with COVID testing prior to a voyage commencing. Adult and Youth day voyages can start with increased numbers.

Challenge Wales has always operated a high level of hand hygiene on its vessels and deep cleaning during and between voyages. This will continue with additional hand sanitising prior to boarding the vessels, more hand cleaning opportunities and additional cleaning of high touch areas on the boats. Masks/face covering must be worn below deck.

UPDATE 26th March 2021: The safety of everyone who sails with us has been of paramount importance and we continue to stress that Challenge Wales and the outdoor residential sector has a huge part to play in the recovery from the Covid pandemic.

In light of announcements from Welsh Government (and UK Government which can differ), it now seems there is a form of roadmap to get us back on the water.

UPDATE 4th January 2021: The Challenge Wales office has now partly reopened. There will be no sailing activities while there is a national lockdown in place and we continue to follow government guidance. Strict protocols are in place for managing maintenance activities onboard during the winter months.

UPDATE 23rd June 2020: Challenge Wales has now made the decision to postpone voyages up until mid August 2020 and will continue to review the situation. Over the next couple of weeks we will be in touch with all those that this now effects. We continue to monitor the situation as restrictions in Wales and the UK begin to ease in July.


UPDATE 4th May 2020: Challenge Wales has made the decision to postpone voyages up until 30th June 2020 and will continue to review the situation on an ongoing basis. We aim to be in touch with everyone regarding future voyages, two months prior to the voyage taking place to update on the changing situation.

UPDATE 24th March 2020: Following on from the previous announcement and yesterday’s Government announcement regarding limiting gatherings and staying at home, Challenge Wales has made the decision to postpone voyages up until 31st May 2020. We will be in touch with everyone affected by this over the next 24 hours and will continue to review the situation on an ongoing basis.

UPDATE 18th March 2020: Following the change in the UK Government’s advice regarding non-essential social contact (social distancing) and unnecessary travel, the Trustees of Challenge Wales have taken the difficult, but necessary, decision to suspend our sail training operations, effective immediately until 18 April 2020 and review the situation on a fortnightly basis there on, with the aim of rescheduling  these trips to a later date.  We will be monitoring very closely Government advice and Public Health Wales advice on a daily basis and over the coming days continue to make decisions regarding our sail training programme for April, May and June.

As you can imagine this is unprecedented times for the world and us as a small charity.

We want to reassure you that our priority is always the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved with the charity; our voyage crew (guests), volunteers, staff and their families.

If you are booked on a voyage during this period (Up until 18th April 2020), you will be contacted by the office this week if you haven’t already been. We would ask that you please don’t contact us regarding future voyages until Friday 27th March 2020 to enable us to speak to all voyage crew and volunteers who are currently affected by this. Moving forwards, we will be in touch regarding later voyages when decisions are made and when the time arises.

Challenge Wales is extremely proud of the reputation we have developed and our relationships we have with volunteers, stakeholders, clients, funders and supporters who have helped us get to where we are today. We are now working in a fast-moving environment that is out of our control but decisions made will be made in the best interests of our stakeholders and we will keep everyone updated as things change.  It will no doubt be a rocky road ahead for many organisations (large and small), individuals and families and we will be extremely grateful to those who are able to offer support to us. If you think there is something you can do for us at this time then please get in touch.

Please continue to monitor the News Page on our website and our social media channels (@ChallengeWales) for updates.

More information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the symptoms can be found here on the NHS 111 Online website.

We look forward to getting back to normality, whenever that will be, and continue to change lives in a positive way.

The Challenge Wales Trustees

It’s a big THANK YOU to our amazing volunteers

The first week of June is Volunteers’ Week enabling us to say a big thank you to all those who help Challenge Wales and support young people

Our amazing volunteers make our voyages possible, they work with young people, they help with maintenance, they do the shopping ready for a voyage, they do DBS checks, they show people around the boat on open boat days, they spend days at sea helping young people leave their comfort zone, they sometimes get sea sick….and sometimes they don’t, they do fundraising, they support fundraising activities, they do cleaning to ensure the boat is spick and span, they are positive role models, they provide supportive words and encouragement to young people and are passionate about helping others. This is why we want to say thank you!

Volunteers Week Logo in Welsh

Challenge Wales is the award-winning charity that it is today because of our volunteers. The young people we work with have missed out on outdoor learning because of Covid, but our volunteers have missed out too.

Volunteering provides a way of giving back, a way of socialising and meeting new people, making new friends, learning new skills or improving current ones. It’s great for your well-being. And, volunteering can improve self-confidence and make you feel good, or even great about yourself.

So thank you again and we can’t wait to welcome back all our volunteers onto our vessels and back into the fold again.

If you are interested in being part of our volunteer team and enabling young people to broaden their horizons and develop to their potential then why not sign up to become a volunteer today and find out more.