Forty-two British forces service personnel have set off from Perth in WA on three 67ft steel-hulled yachts, leaving Fremantle Sailing Club at 1200 local (0400 UT) to tackle a 2,200 nautical mile voyage through the Australian Bight and the notorious Bass Strait en route to Sydney on the east coast of Australia. This is the fifth and a relatively short stage of a year-long, 13-leg adventurous sail training exercise that rehabilitates, restores and revitalises its crew members, many of whom are complete sailing novices, and many of whom have only very recently returned from serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some individuals will, on their return to the UK, be deployed to Operation Hellick; hence many of those on board can only manage a short spell away to undertake some AT (Adventurous Training) prior to returning to active duty.
Mike Bray, who hails from Southampton but was educated in Nottingham where his family now lives, is a Navy Warrant Officer 2 at HMS Collingwood, currently detached to RAF Waddington, who only returned from a five month deployment in Iraq in June. He has no sailing experience whatsoever and is keen to achieve his Competent Crew having completed this leg of TRANSGLOBE.
Before they slipped their moorings, the crews spent a few days acclimatising, learning about the yachts, getting to grips with hoisting and lowering the enormous and extremely heavy sails (especially when wet), victualling the yachts, get sorted into watches, learning how to tie certain knots, learning how to use winches and set up the emergency steering. They all have to go through numerous health and safety briefings. The three yachts represent the Royal Navy (HMSTV Adventure), the British Army (HMSTV Challenger) and the Royal Air Force (HMSTV Discoverer) on Exercise TRANSGLOBE.
The skippers on Leg 5 are all highly accomplished: Chief Petty Officer Neil Penman skippers Adventure. He is a reservist and runs Torbay Sea School; Challenger is skippered by Staff Sergeant Darren ‘Windy' Gale MBE from the Royal Corps of Signals. Windy was part of the project team when the Royal Corps of Signals previously went around the world on Adventure as part of Exercise Mercury Challenge in 2006 and he was the first mate on the yacht when they rescued Koomooloo in the 2006-07 Sydney Hobart Race. Lastly, for the RAF yacht Discoverer, Phil Brown, is a JSASTC (Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre) Staff skipper from Wales who joined JSASTC in 2008 and has since sailed over 10,000 miles on either Challenge 67s or Nicholson 55s. Phil was a skipper on Leg 2 of TRANSGLOBE which took the fleet from the Canary Islands to Rio, a trip of 4,200 miles. He is also currently programmed in to take part on Leg 12, from Charleston to Boston.
NEXT: TRANSGLOBE YACHTS WILL COMPETE IN THE ROLEX SYDNEY-HOBART RACE
There are only two racing legs on this year-long sail training exercise and one of them is almost nigh! The famously competitive Rolex Sydney Hobart Race starts on Boxing Day 26th December and the TRANSGLOBE yachts will be on that start line
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2009 is conducted on the waters of Sydney Harbour, the Tasman Sea, Storm Bay and the Derwent River. Over the past 64 years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart has become an icon of Australia's summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Davis Cup tennis and the cricket tests between Australia and England. No yachting event in the world attracts such huge media coverage – except, of course, the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race – than does the start on Sydney Harbour…and the others only happen every few years.
HMSTVs Adventure, Challenger and Discoverer will be there jostling for position and racing for, amongst other things, the OGGIN CUP, an inter-services trophy awarded at the end of the race. First contested in 1984 the Oggin Cup has had British winners before and it will be interesting to see how the intense service rivalry develops between the TRANSGLOBE fleet as well as with any other service yachts entered this year.
The Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race Skippers are:
Cdr RN Richard Tarr , Skipper Adventure of Hornet
Rear Cdre Offshore for the Royal Navy Sailing Association.
Sgt Darren ‘Windy' Gale MBE, Skipper Challenger of Hornet
Was the Mate involved in rescuing Koomooloo in the 2006-07 Sydney Hobart Race.
Becky Walford, Skipper Discoverer of Hornet
A Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC) Staff Skipper since 2005.
Exercise TRANSGLOBE is a major Tri-Service Adventurous Sail Training Exercise being undertaken by UK service personnel, Regular and Reserve. It is the largest-ever adventurous training exercise to be mounted for the services. The guys and girls who have signed up for TRANSGLOBE are experiencing the extremes of ocean crossings from the heat of the Tropics to the extreme cold of the Southern Ocean. TRANSGLOBE is certainly testing both physical and mental stamina whilst building confidence in their own capabilities and those of their fellow crew members.