I am advised that the three service yachts participating in Exercise TRANSGLOBE, all with their new crews of 14 including replacement skippers on board, will be leaving Lanzarote on Leg 2 of 13 tomorrow to head down to Rio de Janeiro and are expected to arrive on or around 24th August.
As for the information about the individual crew members x 42 newbies, it is somewhat scant for this leg at present so I am providing readers with some other general details to hopefully keep you interested for now:
- What is Exercise TRANSGLOBE?
Exercise TRANSGLOBE is a major sailing expedition that is open to members of all three Armed Forces personnel (regular and reserve) and is up and running from now to July 2010. It comprises an ocean crossing, Adventurous Sail Training circumnavigation in 13 stages, using three identical Challenge 67 foot (20.4m) steel hulled yachts owned by the MOD and operated out of the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC) at Gosport, Hampshire. Each yacht has been assigned to one of the Services for the duration of the Exercise and the crews will be changed at each destination. Over 550 personnel will participate over the course of the year.
Selected crews will also represent their respective Service in both the 2009 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and the 2010 Antigua Race Week, pitting themselves against each other and the cream of the world’s professional race teams.
- The Exercise TRANSGLOBE Project Team
Squadron Leader Neil Cottrell – Project Officer (PTL)
Andy Scott – Petty Officer in the RN (NCO) – Project Team, Navy (PTN)
Clive Cooper – Staff Sergeant in the Army (NCO) Project Team, Army (PTA)
Mrs Gerry Hulse – Team Secretary
Group Captain Alison Amos – Medical Advisor
Peta Stuart-Hunt – Press Officer
Andy Grant – Webmaster
- Is Exercise TRANSGLOBE a race or a cruise in company?
The UK Armed Forces have a long and healthy tradition of inter-Service competitive rivalry but only two stages of TRANSGLOBE are being conducted as offshore race events, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in 2009 and Antigua Race Week in 2010. The remaining 11 ocean crossing passages are Adventurous Training stages being conducted as “cruises in company in the true spirit of Corinthian competition” with the emphasis on sailing the yachts efficiently and maintaining the highest standards of seamanship and leadership.
We know that families, friends and work colleagues of the participants (along with their respective fellow Service personnel) will all be keen to see ‘their yacht and crew’ ahead of the other two. Equally for the participants it is only human nature to measure your team’s progress against the ‘opposition’ and this competitive element will be a factor in maintaining morale on board especially during the longer passages. Progress will be monitored on the web site map display from the start on 11th July this year.
- How many people will be on board each yacht?
The Challenge 67 was designed with 16 berths distributed in four mid-ships cabins of three berths each, and two double cabins in the stern. However, for the purposes of long-distance passage making for Exercise TRANSGLOBE, the crew of 14 will be made up of a Skipper, a mate, 3 watch leaders and 3 watches of 3.
- Are the crews mixed – services, ranks, gender?
The crews will NOT be mixed by Service as Her Majesty’s Sail Training Vessel (HMSTV) ADVENTURE has been assigned to the Royal Navy (which includes the Royal Marines); HMSTV CHALLENGER is assigned to the Army and HMSTV DISCOVERER to the Royal Air Force. This is so that the yachts maintain their clear association as the representative yacht and crew of each Service. However, within each Service’s yacht the crew of 14 will be a mix of abilities, rank and gender.
- Do the yachts have the same team for the whole race or crew changes per leg?
The crews will change over for each leg. 14 crew on three yachts over 13 stages.
- How are the various Services organising their crew selection?
The crews have been selected on a first-come, first-served basis from applications made to the Project Office by individuals from all three Services. They are assigned to their respective Service yacht ensuring there is a mixture of experienced and novice sailors on board.
The only exceptions are the two racing legs, the Rolex Sydney to Hobart and Antigua Race Week. These race teams will be selected by their respective Sailing Associations. Royal Navy Sailing Association (RNSA), Army Sailing Association (ASA) and Royal Air Force Sailing Association (RAFSA).
- Who are the skippers? Professionals and/or Service personnel?
The skippers are made up of Joint Service Staff skippers provided by JSASTC at Gosport, Hampshire and serving members of the armed forces.
- Have the Services bought all the four boats?
Four CH67 yachts, three of which are conducting Exercise TRANSGLOBE, were purchased by the MOD in 2002 as part of the fleet for JSASTC. Each yacht has completed several major deployments worldwide.
- Will any service personnel who have been injured in recent operations be taking part?
There has been a major change to Tri-Service Adventurous Training (AT) Policy in the last year that now permits, and actively encourages, injured service personnel to participate in all forms of AT. An initiative called ‘Battle Back’ supports the integration of personnel recovering from severe injuries irrespective of being received on operations or in accidents into all forms of AT activities.
Twelve Headley Court patients will be crew members on all three yachts during the Antigua to Charleston stage 11 in May 2010. We also have a number of former Headley Court patients who are back serving with their units who have been allocated individual crew positions on other stages of TRANSGLOBE.
- What is a “Watch” and why so many?
A ‘Watch’ in this context means the team of people that must be on duty to sail the yacht effectively. The Challenge 67 yachts was designed to be manually sailed at all times so one person is always on the ‘helm’ steering the yacht with a number of other people ready to trim or change the sails as the weather changes. As this is a 24/7 requirement, the crew is divided into a number of watches that rotate through a cycle of being ‘on watch’, ‘off watch’ and “Mother watch”. Some Skippers prefer the three-watch system with watches alternating ‘on/off’ every 4 hours and every third day being the ’Mother’ watch for 24 hrs. Other Skippers like a 2 watch system with a member of each watch being assigned to the mother watch duties for a day.
- What happens ‘On Watch’?
The on watch crew is responsible to the Skipper for keeping the yacht sailing efficiently on course for the duration of that watch period. They will usually all be ‘on deck’ (unless the weather is so severe that a minimum crew of two (the helmsman and safety lookout) are deployed. Under normal conditions the Watch Leader and his team are all dressed and wearing their lifejackets, to suit the weather conditions, and are stationed in the open cockpit. One will be on the helm with the others keeping an all round look out. If the wind changes in force or direction they will need to respond by altering the sail plan. If extra personnel are required on deck they are supplemented by the Skipper, Mate and ‘Mother Watch’ as necessary. For a three-watch system their time on deck is 4 hours and they may need 15 to 20 minutes to prepare to go on watch and a similar amount of time to get out of foul weather gear as they come off watch.
- What happens ‘Off watch’?
Going off watch means that the crew is formally relieved of duty by the oncoming watch and as soon as they leave the upper deck, they get out of their foul weather gear that gets stowed in the ‘wet locker’. They will then either eat (if it is one of the set meal times) or make the most of their time off relaxing/sleeping/attending to personal admin/writing blogs and media reports etc. This means that most people get a maximum of only three hours sleep when off watch as they must be up, dressed and ready for the next watch changeover.
- What duties does the Mother Watch perform?
The Mother Watch is responsible for providing the entire crew with three meals during its 24 hours as ‘Mother’. The Watch members also replenish the water stocks using the on-board water maker, clean the boat communal areas (paying particular attention to the cleanliness of the Galley and the Heads) and complete any routine maintenance tasks as directed by the Skipper. However, they are also the pool of standby personnel who are on call to augment the ‘on watch’ personnel with major sail changes and such like. Being on the Mother Watch also provides the opportunity to attend to personal ‘make and mend’ tasks and, most importantly, a period of longer than three hours sleep.
- As a tax payer, how much money is being spent on TRANSGLOBE and how is that justified?
The three Services invest in a number of Adventurous Training (AT) activities as a means of developing their personnel so that they are equipped to face the physical and mental demands of operational deployments. These activities include sailing, mountaineering, gliding and micro-light flying, kayaking, hill walking, windsurfing, sport parachuting, diving, mountain-biking and cycling. All these activities use equipment provided from a mixture of public and non-public funds and are proven to develop confidence, stamina, courage and leadership.
Offshore sailing is administered by the RN on behalf of all three Services and uses publicly funded vessels from 34 feet long to the four Challenge boats at 67ft. For Exercise TRANSGLOBE the operational costs of using and supporting the boats is part of the agreed, annual budget for AT during the Financial Years 2009/10 and 2010/11. The MOD does not fund the full cost of travel to and from the destinations where the yachts’ crews will change over. The majority of the cost of airfares will be funded by the personal contribution made by every individual participating in the Exercise supplemented by donations from non-public funds (such as the Services’ Sports Lottery charities) and some commercial patronage.