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!

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.

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.

Coop Foundation Logo

Co-op Members Around The UK Can Support Challenge Wales

Challenge Wales is one of the charities selected by the Co-op Community Fund that will be supported this year so whether you live local to the charity or not, anyone who shops at a Co-op shop can help Challenge Wales.
This comes at a great time when food shopping is definitely an essential activity during Lockdown (and of course outside of Lockdown) and charities have been hard hit by the impact of Coronavirus.

Challenge Wales has set itself a target to raise a few thousand pounds through the Co-op and its members to help no fewer than 100 disadvantaged young people through the charity’s innovative outdoor sailing and shore-side activity programme. This will benefit the young people through improved life skills, improved individual potential, and improved mental health, something that Coronavirus has really impacted on.
Young people hoisting a sail on the Adventure Wales boat in Cardiff

To help Challenge Wales reach its target, you will need to be a member of the Co-op (don’t worry, if you’re not a member yet as you can become a member for just £1….which you then get back in-store discounts) and for every £1 you spend, 2p gets donated to community organisations like us.


To choose Challenge Wales as your nominated charity please click here as every penny you spend will really help us.
Remember though, you can only raise money with your Co-op shop if you are a member of the Co-op. To become a member of Co-op you can sign up here or from our Challenge Wales page on the Co-op website.

The Co-op Foundation helps those that are disadvantaged to overcome their challenges by getting the community to work together and help young people contribute positively to their communities.

What an exciting way to start 2021. Happy Shopping!

The Only Outdoor Education Provider To Be Shortlisted For a Welsh Government Award!

What a huge achievement it was to be nominated for a Welsh Government Youth Work Excellence Award 2020. It was amazing to see so many fantastic youth work projects alongside us. Every finalist was deserving of a win. There is certainly some magical stuff going on in youth work in Wales that isn’t always seen and even more so when you’re in the middle of a pandemic.

Although Challenge Wales didn’t win an award (we were nominated in the Equality and Diversity category), we were alongside some really exciting, life-enhancing, life-changing projects that were making a positive difference to the young people of Wales, but it was interesting to see that Challenge Wales was the only finalist to represent the Outdoor Education sector.

Although it was very nice to be the only Outdoor Education provider shortlisted, we were surprised there weren’t more when Outdoor Education plays a major part in many young people’s development…..and Wales is home to an amazing outdoor classroom!

Outdoor Education is a personal experience, helping young people develop skills that can’t be learned the same way in a formal setting, it can put everyone on the same playing field regardless of their abilities and background, it provides a skills-focused learning environment with adventure and fun within a framework of safety.

Outdoor Education gets minds exploring and encourages participants to take greater responsibility in their actions, it’s about active learning and problem-solving, it helps the understanding of the natural environment and in many creates a life-long appreciation for, and long-term engagement with, the outdoors. The outdoors can create a piece of calm and digital-detox space in the madness of the modern Covid-19 world. Our own independent evaluation of our activities evidenced the positive impact and improvements being on the water had on mental health.

Outdoor Education, and going to sea, is a truly powerful tool and residential experiences in particular, as we often see on our sail training vessels, are life-changing, empowering and offer positive spaces for all.

At the moment many outdoor education organisations are struggling while residential experiences are banned despite operators like ourselves putting in new covid-safe practices and changing how activities are run.

Everything we do in life is often not risk-free, and like all outdoor education providers assessing and managing risk is something we are very much used to….it is at the heart of our operations. We sail with the most precious cargo imaginable – people. We know COVID-19 is here for a while yet and with this uncertainty, we know we have to work with this shadow over us and adapt to manage the new normal.

For those in formal education, outdoor education will form part of the new curriculum in Wales which is supposed to be introduced in 2020. Sail training and outdoor centres are going to play a vital role in this. For those in informal and non-formal learning settings, the Youth Work Strategy for Wales is about ensuring young people can thrive and have the tools and experiences to ensure that. Sail training and outdoor centres play a vital role in this as well.

The Environment Act (Wales) 2016 and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015 together create modern legislation for improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. Did you know that outdoor learning contributes to all 7 Wellbeing Goals as well as providing ‘opportunities and activities that expand horizons within and beyond the traditional learning environment of the classroom.’ (source: Wales Council for Outdoor Learning).

Like many other outdoor education providers, we feel we can offer a fantastic, positive outdoor learning experience and this educational experience shouldn’t shut its doors on those that need it.

“I regard it as the foremost task of education to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion”
Kurt Hahn (A key figure in the development of experiential education and founder of Outward Bound)

Challenge Wales is supporting the ‘SaveOutdoorEd’ campaign and working with the sail training industry and outdoor sector to ensure its voice is heard. Feel free to tag us into the conversation using the hashtag #SaveOutdoorEd and don’t forget you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Challenge Wales Nominated For Youth Work Excellence Award

We’re excited to announce that we’ve been nominated for an award in the Equality and Diversity category of the Welsh Government’s Youth Work Excellence Award 2020.

The awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding youth work projects that are taking place across Wales and changing lives for the better. It’s a really nice surprise to be nominated as there are so many other deserving youth organisations doing fantastic work, like us.

Challenge Wales’ project ‘Voyages of Discovery’ has been nominated which worked with a diverse range of young people giving them life skills development opportunities plus accreditation – something tangible for a CV which many participants had originally thought was out of their reach.

The ‘Voyages of Discovery’ project aligned with a number of initiatives, policies and plans at local, national and UK government level including, in particular, the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015). The Project was also relevant to Welsh Government’s Charter for Youth Work in particular the statement that all young people in Wales are entitled to easy access to “opportunities to take part in outdoor adventure and in residential and international experiences”.

The young people taking part in Challenge Wales’ sail training activities were aged 14 – 25 years and included those with learning difficulties, and/or disabilities; young people living in areas of high unemployment and from inner cities; unemployed and NEET; Care leavers; those who were homeless or in supported housing; In care/Local Authority Care; those with mental health issues; Welsh speakers; those whose first language was not English; cultural/ethnic minorities; LGBTQ+ community members; Young Carers; those with long term health issues; substance misusers; those based in rural areas with access to few opportunities; those with a parent in prison and young offenders. Challenge Wales differs from many other youth organisations in that the charity works across a diverse mix of young people rather than focussing on one or two areas paralleled with a learning environment at sea makes Challenge Wales one of the most unique learning and youth work settings in Wales.

As one youth worker said: “The group was put together because of low self-esteem, lack of confidence. Being part of a team sailing Challenge Wales has enabled the group to believe in themselves that they can do and will do activities outside of their comfort zones….a positive outcome”.

Being nominated for the award, and recognised that we are playing a big part in youth work, is a fantastic testament to our amazing volunteers who tirelessly give up their time to work with these amazing young people and help focus them onto new horizons in a positive way.

We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed to see if we have won. Winners will be announced from 3.00pm on Friday 9th October 2020 on the Welsh Governments Education Wales You Tube Channel here.