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.

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

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.

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.


Captain Tom 100 image

Captain Tom 100 Challenge: Be part of the legacy and support Challenge Wales

In April 2020, Captain Tom inspired the nation by walking 100 laps around his garden for the NHS. Now, you can build on that legacy from 30th April – 3rd May as people from all over the world fundraise for their favourite charities including Challenge Wales.

What is the Captain Tom 100?
It would have been Sir Captain Tom Moore’s 101st birthday on Friday 30th April 2021. To mark this date and as part of the legacy, the Captain Tom 100 is about getting people to dream up a fundraising activity based on ‘100’ between 30th April and 3rd May 2021. It can be any activity as long as it complies with Government guidelines at the time.

How to get involved in the Captain Tom 100
Make up a challenge based on 100 at any time during Captain Tom’s birthday weekend (30th April – 3rd May). To help you, we’ve come up with some ideas:
* Walk 100 metres
* Bake 100 vegan cookies
* Cycle 100km’s
* 100 keepy uppies
* Go up and down your stairs 100 times
* Read 100 pages of your favourite book
* Pick up 100 pieces of litter
* 100 minute silence or 100 minutes telling jokes!

Once you have thought up your Captain Tom 100 fundraising challenge for Challenge Wales, you can set up a fundraising page here with JustGiving or a fundraising page here with VirginMoneyGiving. Both fundraising platforms link directly to Challenge Wales and will enable Challenge Wales to support disadvantaged young people on their outdoor learning skills development programme.

Then shout about your fundraising on social media using #CaptainTom100 and encourage others to support and sponsor you. Remember to share your fundraising links as far as you can!

Need some more inspiration? Download a list of 100 ideas to get you started.

Why should I support Challenge Wales?
Challenge Wales supports young people through its outdoor learning programme. By taking young people to sea, regardless of their background or ability, Challenge Wales helps develop the life skills and employability skills of young people to improve their prospects. Since March 2020 the Charity has been unable to operate due to COVID but knows it will play a part in a post-covid world particularly as its activities are shown to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people. Money raised will ensure we can reach out to young people who would benefit from our services. If you aren’t able to take part in a fundraising event but would like to make a secure donation you can also do that here.

Young people hoisting a sail on a tall ship

Have Your Say, Shape Our Project, Change Lives

Over the past three years, hundreds of young people have benefitted from funded voyages where they were able to learn lifeskills such as teamwork and communication, they improved their self-confidence, achieved Agored Cymru accreditation and learned about the environment by taking part in our shore-side programme and citizen science activities.

Our activities, which happen at sea and on land, have helped young people improve their employment prospects and are also evidenced to improve young people’s mental health. Take a look at some of our case studies! 

At the moment we are unable to sail due to Coronavirus but we are planning for the future and the part we will play in a post-Covid world.

So, how can you get involved and help us?

We are looking for 11 – 25 year olds. Challenge Wales is wanting to hear the views of young people to help us shape our next project to help 600 young people improve their employment prospects. Can you help share our short survey with young people aged 11 – 25 years? Perhaps you are a young person yourself and you have a few minutes to fill it in. Just click here to complete the survey.

Do you work with young people aged 11 – 25 years? You might be a group leader, a teacher or a home-schooling parent. If so, we have a different survey for you to complete. Just click here to complete our group leader survey.

To help group leaders, teachers and home-schooling networks to complete the survey with their pupils, students and young people we would love to join you for one of your virtual sessions. We just need 10 minutes of your time to do this to explain what the project is and to get your views. If you would like to take advantage of this and one of our team virtually visiting you then contact us by email or call 029 20 704 657 for more details.

Challenge Wales is an award-winning charity that changes the lives of young people by taking them to sea on Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship and Adventure Wales.

People folding up a sail on Challenge Wales
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!

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.