The mood was quiet on Challenge Wales after the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant as those who had taken part in the Jubilee Sailing Voyage, from Gosport, up the Thames left St Katharine Docks and headed home. Lots of goodbyes were said, new friends had been made, achievement certificates had been awarded…and well-deserved, Challenge Wales Sailors Bracelets were being worn, luggage was strewn across the deck….then there was silence…
But not for long, as the next group came onboard a few days later. This next voyage was organised by the Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) and is a Small Ships Race against other sail training vessels. Like the last group who had been onboard Challenge Wales none of the young people onboard knew each other, coming from different parts of Wales and England. Two of those onboard are also using this voyage as their Residential for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Within 3 hours of the last person jumping aboard, the youngsters had certainly settled in, one of the team’s had made lunch for everyone, one person had climbed the 95 foot high mast, another had tuned and attempted to play the Challenge Wales ukulele that had been donated to us. The group had also taken part in a Man-Overboard-Drill ‘rescuing’ their fellow trainee crew member from the dinghy alongside and understanding the effects of hyperthermia and being in the water has on the body.
On Monday 11 June (at 6.00am…which will mean getting up at 5.00am) Challenge Wales departs West India Dock in London and will be part of the Parade of Sail with another 14 sail training vessels, including John Laing (Ocean Youth Trust South), Spirit of Fairbridge and Gypsy Moth IV to name a few. At 5.30pm she will then be under starters orders at Southend Pier as the Small Ships Race starts and the fleet race to the Olympic Sailing venue of Portland. None of the young people onboard have sailed before, for some this is the first time on any sort of boat so the challenge will certainly be a few hours into the race when they go straight into a night sailing passage.
Challenge Wales offers a bursary fund to those who are eligible to take part in sail training activities, sometimes (as is the case for the ASTO Small Ships Race) Challenge Wales has been able to receive additional funding to help more people get onboard.
Anyway, must dash as we still have a lot to do to get those onboard ready for one of the most fantastic races of the year.