End of the summer and the spectacular Tall Ships

As we look back at 2014 (and what a year it was), we take a glance back to late summer and Challenge Wales’ participation in the Tall Ships Regatta; Falmouth – London

As the end of the summer drew to a close, Challenge Wales set sail from Cardiff to Falmouth to participate in the Falmouth to Greenwich Tall Ships regatta, crewed by visually impaired and blind young people.

Sailing into Falmouth was somewhat different to previous visits as we headed straight into the buzzing atmosphere of the spectacular Tall Ships Regatta.  Over 3 days thousands of visitors (in fact an estimated 200,000 visitors!) wandered around the fleet of Tall Ships headed up by the magnificent Polish square rigger the Dar Młodzieży.

Tall Ship Dar Mlodziezy; pic credit to Tallshipstock.com

Tall Ship Dar Mlodziezy; pic credit to Tallshipstock.com

Just under 50 vessels took part in the Tall Ships Regatta, Challenge Wales won her class in the last regatta held in the Irish Sea in 2012 and we were keen for a repeat performance on this short course to Greenwich.

The focus of the Tall Ships events is young people; hundreds of trainees from across the world were involved – sharing stories, sharing experiences, making friends. This is sail training in action! (And, if you don’t know much about sail training then Sail Training International explain all here) Before we left Falmouth we had inter-crew sports activities and yes, Challenge Wales won the Tug O’War event and our proud trainees were invited on stage to pick up their medals. Well done everyone!!

We also took part in the crew parade. For those who haven’t experienced a Tall Ships Crew parade it is…noisy and fun as proud crew and trainees fly the flag for their vessel, and believe me the Challenge Wales flag was certainly flying high.  Check out the video below  to see what Tall Ships is all about and look out for Challenge Wales (2m 16 – our cheering trainees and crew, 2m 19 – a comment from one of our crew members, 2m 31 – see us in the crew parade, 3m 00 – see Challenge Wales in the parade of sail)

In Falmouth we said goodbye to one group and welcomed another new group of young people joining us for the race with various trainees being funded by the Challenge Wales Bursary Scheme and the Association of Sail Training Organisations bursary.  Light tail winds are not the best conditions for a Challenge yacht, which is designed for upwind sailing in the Southern Ocean, but lady luck stayed with us. Challenge Wales sailed non-stop with everyone onboard working in watches, 3 hours on and 3 hours off during the night and 4 hours on and off during the day…it was a fantastic feeling when we took first in class.

In London all crew and trainees personally met HRH, Sophie, The Countess of Wessex who is the patron of the Association of Sail Training Organisations, which was a fantastic experience for them. She talked to our trainees about their experience in the event and their experiences of sail training.

HRH Sophie, the Countess of Wessex with Challenge Wales crew and trainees in London

HRH Sophie, the Countess of Wessex with Challenge Wales crew and trainees in London

We flew the Welsh flag proudly as we took part in the crew parade through the streets of Greenwich.  Cheered on by thousands of onlookers the parade finished at the Naval College, where Challenge Wales was cheered as the Skipper and one of the trainees picked up our trophy.

Preparing for the start of the Tall Ships Regatta crew parade  in Greenwich, London

Preparing for the start of the Tall Ships Regatta crew parade in Greenwich, London

The skills the young people learnt while onboard for the Tall Ships Regatta are the skills that all young people get to experience when onboard any of Challenge Wales’ residential voyages; learning about teamwork, respect for others, the importance of communication, discipline, the sense of achievement, working in a routine and developing self-confidence. And, not forgetting the fun, camaraderie, the cooking and washing up (!) and memories that go with a Challenge Wales voyage.

If you’re under 26 years and wanting to see what a residential voyage is all about, or looking for something different for your Gold DofE Residential then look no further than Challenge Wales. There will be several residential voyages onboard in 2015 so register your interest today.

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