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!

World Sailing RYA and Steering the Course logo

World Sailing Global Women’s Sailing Festival Features Challenge Wales Trustee

The #SteeringThe Course festival is focussing on inspirational women participating in sailing, whether it is on the water, or off, but who are playing their part in getting people involved in sailing.

Vicky Williams, part of the Challenge Wales team

Vicky shares her story with World Sailing/RYA Cymru;

“I came from a non-sporty, non-sailing family and was introduced into sailing by a friend in my late teens, who I sailed for fun with on a few occassions. At that time I was actively competing in Dragon Boat Racing (which I really loved) and really enjoyed being on the water but sailing was completely new and a bit outside my comfort zone. My first sailing experiences were all about being an extra body onboard and just having a go. A few years later my husband (who had been a competitive sailor) bought a 41ft boat and I learnt the basics of sailing, learning the ropes and becoming a competent pair of hands.

A few years later I had the opportunity to jump onboard a Challenge 72, an ex round-the-world racing yacht (now known as Challenge Wales) and knowing how sailing might not always be or feel that accessible and that it can really develop social, communication and teamwork skills, I became a Board Member of the Challenge Wales sail training charity. A charity that uses sailing to inspire and develop young people to achieve their potential. Giving young people the opportunity to sail Challenge Wales and now our second vessel Adventure Wales has enabled some to take a career into the sailing world, for others it has enabled a career into the marine world, for others it has enabled them to feel positive about themselves and motivated them that anything can be possible.

Initially, I was not just a board member but a volunteer crew on many of the voyages but as I was hands-on with helping the new charity develop I stepped back from crewing to enable me to also meet all the people who were jumping onboard, bring in funding and recruit volunteer crew. Now as we head into our 12th year of operation I am amazed how far Challenge Wales has grown. The charity has sailed with thousands of young people jumping onboard, we have 100 volunteers as positive role models, our innovative sail training programme has received recognition within the industry and youth work sector and we even represented Wales at the Queens Jubilee Pageant in London in 2012.

In 2019 we piloted a couple of Ladies Only Sailing Days and a Sea and Tell programme which brings our sailing activities and sea-safety to younger children who can explore our boats in a safe way.

Being outdoors on the water is great for your mental health and connecting with nature and I am passionate about sustainability and environmental issues particularly microplastics (unfortunately) so it’s great that I can do this and learn through sailing and more importantly share my enthusiasm with others. I am one of those people that if I see an opportunity I grab it with both hands and will also encourage others to do the same. I hope for those who haven’t started sailing when they were really young realise there are still opportunities for getting involved out there.

Challenge Wales offers sailing opportunities for adults as well as young people. The charity works with young people aged 12 – 25 years but other activities the charity does means those aged 18 – 80 can also come sailing, volunteer as crew or get involved behind the scenes to enable more young people to have the opportunity.


We're recruiting for new roles at Challenge Wales

We’re Recruiting

Join us and share our amazing adventures!  As the Challenge Wales sail training charity looks forward to the future and restarting its activities we are on the hunt for a Skipper to join the team. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone who has the right sailing experience, fun and enthusiastic outlook , ability to manage maintenance activities, lead a team and wants to help young people develop their potential.

Deadline for applications:  21st May 2021

Click here to read the Skipper Job Description

This role will remain open until the right candidate is found.

Any enquiries regarding this role can be directed to the Challenge Wales office.

College students sailing on Challenge Wales

First voyage of 2020

The first week of March brought the first residential voyage of the season as there was a welcome gap in the winter storms.

Volunteers had pulled out all the stops to make sure that Challenge Wales was ready for her first residential of the year making sure she was ship shape and fully stored. A 7 day voyage with college students where they would be learning about sailing, teamwork, leadership, exploring the local geography and understanding about the environment.

Students learning navigation on Challenge Wales

At the end of the voyage you wouldn’t have believed that the students had joined not knowing each other and with little to no sailing experience!

But that is what sail training is all about. Our classroom doesn’t have four walls and anything can happen on one of our residentials….and it certainly did.

We managed to spot seals at the magical Lundy Island as we stepped ashore there, we had sing songs in the saloon as the Challenge Wales guitar made a guest appearance, we had mugs of hot chocolate on deck to warm ourselves up, we saw friendships develop and conversations had as the digital detox started.

In addition, the young people were learning teamwork skills, exploring the natural world, leading teams, building confidence while having fun.

The voyage took students from Cardiff to Swansea, to Lundy Island and then onto Neyland in West Wales (thanks Neyland Marina for being so welcoming as usual), an anchorage at Tenby and then back up to Cardiff Bay.

It’s always sad saying goodbye to students as they depart the boat. The laughter, joking, hustle and bustle of the week starts to die down as the voyage comes to an end. Volunteers reflected on how well the young people had raised to the challenge of learning in a unique environment, achieved their personal & group goals, had seen characters grow and developed personally during the time.

Until the next time…….

Black Friday With A Charitable Difference

Imagine sailing by the stars, experiencing fresh air that smells of the sea and having a digital detox. That’s what one of our Black Fridays feels like…

With Christmas adverts bombarding our TV screens and sponsored adverts appearing on our social media feeds it is easy to get overwhelmed and go with the flow at this time of year. Buying things that are here today and broken / fed up with / superseded (delete as necessary) tomorrow.

So what makes our Black Fridays different?

Our Black Fridays incorporate being at sea, on a boat in sometimes an unknown situation with unknown people. It’s an experience…and that’s the big difference!

The food was delicious, the conversation was hilarious, the activity was amazing / challenging / fun (delete again as necessary), the guests onboard were interesting with their own tales to tell, the weather was perfect, we learnt new things etc. The whole experience creates memories that you can look back on and talk about in the future. The experience connects you with other people who are experiencing the same thing as you. Being outdoors improves mental health (we have independently evaluated this aspect to prove this through our Voyages of Discovery programme) and with different people, crew and weather….yep, every experience with us is different.

Surely collecting experiences, and saying ‘I did that!’ can be better in the long term than collecting materialistic things.

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Challenge Wales runs a variety of voyages for young people and adults aged 12 – 85 years. With a one day voyage costing £95 (as at Nov 2019) and with profits going to support disadvantaged young people to develop their employability skills through sailing, an experience with us can truly be life-changing. Gift vouchers are available!

2018 – A Review Of Our Charity Year

From winning awards, to launching new accredited learning…it’s been an amazing year of successes for Challenge Wales.

On what was branded as Visit Wales ‘Year of the Sea’ , we’ll take you on a quick tour of 2018 looking at some of our highlights, as we look forward to celebrating our 10th birthday in 2019!

The first six months of 2018;
In January, the charity had its first permanent salaried sea staff join the team and volunteers onboard Challenge Wales appeared in BBC’s Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys

MIchael Portillo Great Railway Journeys Challenge Wales

 

 

 

 

 

 

February saw us undertake our first residential voyage, brrr it was a chilly one but great to have central heating onboard, and we were excited to win Highly Commended in both the Innovation and People Development categories at the South Wales Business Growth Awards
In April we banned one-use plastic water bottles onboard our vessels and started to issue all young people sailing with us with a Challenge Wales reusable drinks bottle. It was very difficult to manage banning one-use plastic water bottles but it became a great conversation point and raised awareness onboard
May saw the charity commission it’s newly acquired second vessel Adventure Wales and within a few weeks was heading to the Tall Ships Regatta to represent Cardiff, Wales and the UK. It was great that the vessel won the Sail Training International Environment Award! While Adventure Wales was taking part in cultural, youth events, Challenge Wales was Volvo Hunting and welcomed the Volvo Ocean Race fleet into Cardiff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In June we integrated litter picking into our teamwork activities and June was the month we launched our accredited Agored Cymru Environmental Project with Dee Caffari, Skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic. We had aligned ourselves with Turn the Tide on Plastic as Dee was the only female skipper in the race, 50% of the crew were male/female, it had a really strong environmental message, had the youngest crew in the race and, at the time, the only Welsh sailor onboard. We also picked up the Amazing Space award in the Zokit Business Awards.

 

 

 

 

 

The second half of 2018 saw the charity;
Winning the Social Media Award at the start of the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland in July
In August we launched a sail training programme in North Wales on Adventure Wales and Challenge Wales returned from 49 days of sailing overseas, welcoming 10 different nationalities onboard and taking part in Europe’s largest free, youth, cultural event that was attended by millions of people!
November saw one of our trustees get invited to the Sail Training International Conference in Seville to speak about Challenge Wales’ sustainability journey
and believe it or not, our last voyage of the year happened at the beginning of December!

We welcomed quite a few new, fantastic volunteers to the team and set up no fewer than 30 partnerships with youth organisations who have seen the value of sail training and the impact it can have on young people. We’ve seen many of our young people succeed at getting bursary funding to help them get onboard – as we say, if young people want to take advantage of an opportunity but can’t afford it, we’ll help them to make that opportunity become reality.

 

Although we are small, we are proud of what we have achieved this year and remember;  “If you think you are too small to make an impact – try going to sleep with a mosquito in your cabin”  (quote unknown)

 Thank you so much to our donors, funders, volunteers, supporters and our amazing young people for a memorable 2018!

See you in 2019 for more educational adventures!

 

 

 

 

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!?

 

 

 

 

Turn the Tide on Plastic Skipper Helps Launch Environmental Project

Volvo Ocean Race skipper, Dee Caffari helped launched Challenge Wales’ Environmental Project at the Volvo Ocean Race Village, Cardiff Bay.

Dee Caffari Challenge Wales Volvo Ocean Race Village

On 31st May, guests and volunteers turned up initially onboard Challenge Wales for a tour of the vessel,  before heading off to the eco-lounge in the Volvo Ocean Race village to hear Dee’s stories of adventure, the fight against the tide of plastic that is infiltrating even the remotest parts of the world and to hear more about the accredited learning opportunities and life-changing work that the Challenge Wales charity provides. With compostable cups holding tea and coffee in hand, everyone listened intently to what Dee had to say.

The Environmental Project is the latest addition to the Challenge Wales programme to give young people who participate on sailing days and voyages an opportunity to get an accredited qualification to add to their CV, while improving a host of life-skills through the process of hands-on big boat sailing and its development is part of the charity’s Voyages of Discovery Big Lottery funded project.

As skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic the 65ft Volvo Ocean Race yacht, which is enjoying a stopover at Cardiff, Dee is trying to educate people about the danger of disposable plastics and the effect they are having on the seas and the wildlife. “During the race we have been carrying out a science project to measure microplastics in the oceans. There were microplastics present in the most southerly part of the Southern Ocean! The problem is that you can’t see it, but it is everywhere, and everything in the food chain is affected. The potential health implications are enormous” she said at the launch.

Challenge Wales has been undertaking other environmental initiatives over the years including being part of a global citizen science project and measuring plankton levels, bringing science to life with experiences, working with the warden on Lundy Island to understand ecosystems. Challenge Wales has also worked with both Cardiff and Plymouth universities on marine-related activities.

Pic credits: Bekoh Photography

 

We're recruiting for new roles at Challenge Wales

We’re Recruiting For Two Roles!

Join us and share our amazing adventures!  As the Challenge Wales sail training charity expands we are on the hunt for a Mate AND a Skipper. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone who has the right sailing experience, fun and enthusiastic outlook and wants to help young people develop their potential.

Mate

The Mate will be supporting the Skipper in delivering the services of Challenge Wales on its two vessels Adventure Wales and Challenge Wales.

Deadline for applications:  17th April 2018

Click here to read the Mate Job Description

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).

Skipper

For the Skipper  role we are looking for someone with enthusiasm and passion for helping young people develop and leading a team with a good helping of fun thrown in.  Could this be you?  You will be initially skippering on Adventure Wales (60 foot schooner) with opportunity to also skipper the charity’s flagship vessel Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship.

Deadline for Applications: 4th May 2018

Read the Skipper Job Description and how to apply

Any enquiries regarding these roles can be directed to the Challenge Wales office.

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).

All Aboard as Mate Position is Filled

The only salaried sea-staff position within the Challenge Wales charity has now been filled and we are excited to announce that Shannon has joined the team as Mate, supporting and assisting the Skipper in delivering sail training activities, supervising volunteers, helping to manage the volunteer training programme and taking an active role in the refit/maintenance programme.

She joins at an exciting time as the charity has also recently acquired a second vessel.

In between servicing some of the winches onboard Challenge Wales today we asked Shannon a couple of questions about her now job and aspirations. Shannon said: “I applied to be the Mate at Challenge Wales because I wanted to be a part of the incredible work the charity does. A few years ago I joined as a trainee on board but didn’t realise at the time it was the start of many sailing adventures! I’m excited to now be able to contribute to other’s positive experiences and inspire young people to follow a different path in life. My goal is to progress to working as Skipper for the charity in the future and I am most looking forward to expanding my knowledge of boat systems and engineering.”

Challenge Wales is keen to support more women to get into the sail training/ marine industry and a few months ago was part of the Only Girls Afloat initiative by RYA Cymru. Challenge Wales is also running two ladies only voyages on 23rd June and 2nd September.