At 38 degrees it was a very warm welcome for Sail Training Vessel and Wales’ Tall Ship, Challenge Wales into Cadiz (Southern Spain) on 28th July 2016.
Young people from Caerphilly had joined us in Lisbon (Portugal) for the start of Race 2 of the Tall Ships Races 2016 organised by Sail Training International.
First off with any Tall Ships event, is the Parade of Sail. The spectacular departure of the Tall Ships, crews cheering and waving to those left on land. And those left on land, cheering, waving and clapping to those heading off on their adventures.
After the boats had paraded, it was time to go into race-mode. All boats are wanting to get their own race off to a great start and it was a mass of colour on the Tall Ships Races Boat Tracker (Yellow Brick) as all boats headed to the start line.
This race was quite a short race, it still included a couple of nights at sea and non-stop racing. Working in shifts, 3 hours on and 3 hours off, making sure everyone was well-fed, making sure everyone was having fun, working together to trim the sails and taking it in turns to helm the boat (remember, Challenge Wales doesn’t have auto-pilot), there was always something that needed doing.
Unlike the first race from Antwerp to Lisbon where the time to cross the start line spanned over a 24 hour period, this time everyone was crossing the line close together and with the varying wind strengths, which at some times meant that we slowed right down, the Tall Ships fleet remained closer together than in the previous race.
It wouldn’t be until a couple of days later at the Tall Ships Award ceremony that we would be advised of our official placing, the Tracker had placed us at 13th in Class, but the final results announced placed us into the top 10 and we fell into a well-deserved 8th place in Class.
Cadiz welcomed the Tall Ships Races and Challenge Wales with colour and enthusiasm. The warm seas of Cadiz meant the opportunity for jumping off the boat and cooling off with a swim for many. It also meant yet another crew parade of shouting and cheering….and we must admit if there was a competition for the loudest and noisiest crew, I am sure the Challenge Wales team would have won!
So what is the Tall Ships Races actually teaching those onboard – is it actually teaching them anything as it just seems to be too much fun?!! Well the answer is it’s teaching those onboard (both our volunteer crew and the young people we welcome) several key things:
- Resilience – being able to bounce back and adapt well to different and challenging situations, seasickness can effect people, new surroundings which place people out of their comfort zone can be a challenge. Sail training helps people become more resilient.
- An understanding of diversity and culture – Vessels, and crews from all over the world are taking part in this event. Our host ports are sharing their culture and history with us and we’re sharing a piece of Wales with them. The young people are sharing their cultures, in fact one vessel taking part had no fewer than 18 different nationalities onboard! Read more about Cadiz being a meeting place of cultures and traditions from Sail Training International. There is no better way to be teaching Global Citizenship than being part of this event!
- Time -keeping – Watches are run on Challenge Wales, so when your watch is about to finish you are relying on the person replacing you to be up and raring to go. Meals are planned at particular times to ensure everyone is fed on all watches while ensuring there are plenty of people on deck at all times.
- Teamwork and sharing the same goals – Challenge Wales and those onboard are working to one goal, to successfully cross the finish line in the Tall Ships Races in the quickest time possible. This means trimming and changing sails quickly, it means helming in the right direction (and trying to avoid submarines as we often say), making sure everyone is fuelled, making sure the food is prepared, meals planned, dishes washed up, it’s about looking after each other and supporting each other through the sail training challenges that arise. It’s a great feeling when it all comes together.
Moreover, sail training on Challenge Wales is giving young people and crew the opportunity to broaden their horizons, see new places in the world and make new friends. It’s improving their social skills and experiences, increasing self-confidence and self-esteem and focus on a common end-goal.
So what’s stopping you trying this?
Tall Ships racing is just one of the sail training opportunities on Challenge Wales, Wales’ Tall Ship. Other events include Small Ships Racing, and residential voyages which take in new ports in the UK, amazing sea-life such as dolphins and seals and even visiting an island. While bursary funding supports many young people jumping onboard, Challenge Wales is now looking for more support from companies wishing to support young people who are wanting to develop their skills through sail training and improve their prospects to enable Challenge Wales to reach more young people. For further details on Challenge Wales visit www.challengewales.org Some voyages are for adults aged 18 – 75 while others are for young people aged 16 – 25. Day voyages are suited for those aged 12+. Bursary funding is only available for young people.