Registered Charity 521362

Event : Challenger Sailing Voyage 2014

Saturday 23rd August saw a crew of 10 young people head south to Plymouth to climb on board and take the helm of a Challenger Racing Yacht for a voyage along the south coast to Portsmouth. All members of the crew earned their place after being nominated by their clubs and interviewed for their place and fund raising for the adventure earlier in the year.

After an epic journey we finally reached Plymouth and the tiredness was soon forgotten when we saw ‘Sarah’ our Challenger racing yacht. After a walk into town for tea, introductions to ‘Sarah’ and its crew was the order of the evening before settling down for the night in our pipe bunk beds.

An early rise saw more safety briefings, inc. Man over board procedures, hopefully not to be used later in the week and introductions to the sails, fenders and sheets (ropes) before dinner and heading out for a training sail past the break water. Due to the poor weather, high wind and rain we had to turn back and a number of the crew were feeling a bit sea sick. This didn’t dampen the spirits though as the crew had access to great showers and ‘proper’ toilets.

The poor weather conditions continued on Monday, but after breakfast and preparing the deck we thought we would go for it, only to be defeated once again by the high winds, rain and big waves, which for some was great fun but others who were yet to find their sea legs, was a bit much. So we returned to a different marina in Plymouth which enabled us to have some shore leave and explore the Barbican centre. On return to ‘Sarah’ we were told that tomorrow was the day, the weather was changing in our favour but an early start was required so we had deck prep after tea to carry out to catch the tides to reach our goal of Weymouth.

Early to bed, early to rise, we employed a watch system, Starboard, or Starbucks to some members of the crew, and Port worked three hours on three hours off as we left Plymouth full of excitement. Despite the rain and large waves, the crew’s enthusiasm for the sail never wavered and this was rewarded with blue skies later in the day and dolphins for Starboard watch. After some great sailing, sweating (raising the sails) learning how to tack, we reached Weymouth 80 miles and fourteen hours later, tired but exhilarated after the day everyone couldn’t wait for a hot shower and bed.

Due to the tides and as a reward for a deep clean of the boat and scrubbing the decks, some more shore leave was granted to the crew to explore Weymouth, as expected everyone returned with bags full of sweets as if they hadn’t seen them before. After dinner it was time for some work towards the Competent Crew award that we were working towards whilst on the voyage and then the first test, prep deck with no help!!! We passed with only 3 minor mistakes J Poole was our destination for today and was reached in what seemed no time after the long sail of the previous day but it also saw us experience night sailing for the first time.

The end of our adventure was slowly creeping up but we still had one more port of call, Cowes on the Isle of Wight. This was a brilliant days sailing as everybody had finally got their sea legs and the weather was great. As usual we had targets to reach to ensure we caught the tides but to a now experienced crew this was no problem as we also had time to jibe as we passed the Needles and climbed the Spinnaker pole as we went. Once again some shore leave was granted for exploring, fishing and going to the beach. After tea it was time for more Competent Crew work about etiquette and rights of way whilst sailing and knot tests.

The final day saw us re-visit the Man Overboard Procedures and also rescue methods to get them back on board it was also only a short trip across the Solent to Portsmouth and sadness came over us as we passed the Spinnaker Tower. We might have been at our final destination however the work hadn’t finished as an extra deep clean of the boat and deck was needed, sails fully packed away and stored and ropes coiled and hung properly. Unbeknown to the crew they had been watched and assessed throughout the week and received their individual feedback and RYA Competent Crew Awards which everyone passed with flying colours. Then it was cake time, not just any cake but birthday cake as crew member Will celebrated his birthday on board!!!

All to soon it was Saturday morning and time to hit the road and the long journey back to Lancashire, looking forward to see family, friends and getting into our own beds but tinged with sadness knowing that our great adventure was over.

A big thank you to Tallships Youth Trust and their crew who made it a great adventure and also to Henri Lloyd and Glasdon Group who through their support made the voyage happen. Also a big thank you to Val from Tommy’s CYP who volunteered her time to come along and support the young people on the week.

The crew consisted of:

Ben Cunliffe - Blackburn YMCA
Conner Drury - Burnley BGC
Louis Drury - Burnley BGC
Rachel Harnick - Clitheroe Youth
Chloe Jackson - Clitheroe Youth
Louis Magee - Clitheroe Youth
Rhian suttie - Clitheroe Youth
Savannah Jackson - Tommy's Fleetwood CYP
Megan McDonald Tommy's Fleetwood CYP
William Miller - Mereside Youth Club

click here to see the photos of the trip.

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