Sailing trip with Challenge Wales

Harry Neuert (UWC AC, USA 2010-2012)

This year for August Service Period, the Atlantic College ILB service went on a six day sailing trip around Wales and England on the Bristol Channel. We were split into two groups, each staying on the boat for three days. The boat, ‘Challenge Wales,’ is a seventy-two foot racing yacht built to sail around the world. Having finished it’s racing career, the Challenge Wales is now run as a charity, taking various small groups out around Wales and teaching basic sailing and seamanship skills.

The first group left from Cardiff and sailed to Portishead on the first night. They then continued west along the channel to Uxbridge, Lundy Island, and ended in Swansea. The second group got on the boat in Swansea and sailed out to Lundy Island and back towards Cardiff. While not sailing, each group was back at Atlantic College training on powerboats for the upcoming year.

The sail provided students with an opportunity to revisit basic skills in preparation for the upcoming year and to gain a better appreciation of the Bristol Channel as a whole. Sailing requires accurate and detailed knowledge of tidal conditions, wind, navigation, rope work, and boat handling; all skills that we use in ILB. In addition, the trip provided a great chance for the year group to bond and get to know each other. We cooked all of our own meals and shared responsibility for keeping watch and tidying with the Challenge Wales crew. Hajar El Fatihi (Morocco, AC 10-12) says that “The most important lesson was that team work, communication, and coordination are what lead to perfection.” The tight quarters and shared work allowed us to spend a lot of time together, creating new bonds and strengthening old ones after the summer holidays.

Highlights of the trip were many. According to Nicole Hoogelander (Netherlands, AC 10-12) “Seeing dolphins in the Bristol Channel, waking up in the middle of the night to watch the ship, great crew members and just being on a ship with eighteen people for three days were the right elements to make this trip a fantastic experience. Service members enjoyed experiencing the channel from a new perspective. Cheryne Jonay (Switzerland, AC 10-12) reflected on this, saying, “I learned to enjoy the way the sails swell with wind, the way the boat cuts through the waves, the way the sun is reflected on the water and the way the tide and especially the wind have their own mind and love to play around with the sea.”

We’d like to especially thank the crew of Challenge Wales, as well as all those who gave donations to allow us to go on this sailing trip. It was truly a fantastic way to start the year, and we hope that it can become a yearly event during August Period.

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