20 July 2012>
A group of young people recently joined forces with Caerphilly County Borough Council's Outdoor Education Team, to sail the high seas on an adventurous trip to meet with the Round the World Clipper Race fleet in Ireland.
The team of 11 young people and 2 staff, who were taking part in a Duke of Edinburgh Sail Training voyage, set sail aboard the acclaimed 'Challenge Wales' vessel; a 72 foot yacht which has twice successfully raced around the world.
Setting off from Neyland, Milford Haven, the crew had ample time to familiarise themselves with the boat and find their sea legs, as they sailed all day and night across the Irish Sea to their first port of call; Bangor, Northern Ireland. Often accompanied by an array of marine wildlife, including dolphins, pilot whales, seals and porpoises, the crew ventured on past the lunar landscape of the Giant's Causeway toward Londonderry, where they would meet with the Round the World Clipper Race fleet.
The race itself consists of around 450 people from all over the world facing the challenge of a lifetime as they compete across 40,000 miles of ocean. Visiting 15 ports of call on 6 continents, the fleet's visit to Londonderry was a unique and special opportunity for the team from Caerphilly to greet them and experience life aboard the Clipper yachts.
Richard Batten, Duke of Edinburgh Development Officer at the council said, "This trip has been an incredible experience for all involved, forging memories that will last a lifetime. The feeling as we followed the fleet out of the River Foyle during the official farewell, with thousands of people lining the banks to wave the boats off, is indescribable. The young people, who began as individuals, ended as an efficient and competent team, each gaining a Royal Yachting Association's 'Competent Crew' qualification."
The city of Londonderry also played host to a 4 day Maritime Festival during the visit, and the crew were given a warm welcome to events on dry land, including 2 open-air concerts with performances from The Undertones and Irish rock group The Saw Doctors.
The team were privileged to have received a personal tour of the 'New York' Clipper yacht, whose crew comprised of 44 people representing 6 different nationalities. Young people were given the opportunity to meet the crew, pose questions and see the living conditions on board, where crew members spend 51 weeks sailing the oceans in sometimes hostile conditions.
After departing from Londonderry, the 6-night trip concluded in Milford Haven. Having travelled 585 miles at sea, and logging 10-night hour shifts each, morale was high as the young people came away with both qualifications and experiences to last a lifetime.
- Return to News