British Army take on the Southern Ocean onboard HMSTV Challenger

Here’s their own quick run down on the crew on board Challenger for this next stretch of 5,000 nautical miles to Perth and a ride on the Southern Ocean:

Mike Symes, Master 200gt, Cowes. Professional skipper for 10 years this will be my first venture into the Southern Ocean. I am looking forward to the challenge of working with a generally novice crew and developing their blue water sailing skills on passage to Perth.

Maj Austin Prendiville, SO2 SCM Plans (DE&S), Abbeywood.  A last minute change of crew allocations resulted in my promotion to 1st mate, which involves the day-to-day management of the boat and watches, under close direction of the skipper.  I’m really looking forward to sailing in the big seas I’ve read so much about; I think we are all going to experience a very exhilarating crossing to Australia.

Maj Steve Parsons, SO2 Sup (Mat), HQ London District. A late addition to the crew and allocated the position of 2nd mate. Though a seasoned sailor I have never ventured onto a Challenge 67 before nor sailed in the Southern Ocean so this adventure is a baptism of fire.

Maj Stephen Galvin, SO2 Log Sp HQ 2 SE Brigade. First time in the South Seas and only second time on a Challenge 67, during which I’m allocated to be a watch-leader and also the yacht’s purser. I’m really grateful for the opportunity and excited at the thought of that we will face in the coming weeks. ”Live Slow and Sail Fast”.

Pte Antoni Gabanski, 16 Tank Transporter Sqn, 7 Transport Regiment. Like the others, this also is my first time sailing the southern ocean. It is going to be an amazing thrill to accomplish as a novice sailor. I have about 5 weeks worth of sailing experience.

LCpl Antony Finnigan, 234/156 (V) Regiment.  I have worked hard to develop my skills ready for the passage and I’m looking forward to arriving in Perth with everyone else, safely.

Lt Nathan Evans RLC, Tp Comd 13 Med Evac Squadron, Aldershot.  With a few weeks experience this will be my first long passage and experience of the Southern Ocean.  On board I will be responsible for Media and the maintenance of Challenger as the Engineer.

LCpl Colin Harrower, JNCO Surface Ops, 38 Brigade, NI. So far I have sailed one week’s familiarisation on a Challenger yacht. Although less experienced than others will make up for it on board with drive, willingness and enthusiasm. I hope by the end of the six weeks I will know how to make the perfect brew.

Sgt Shaun Broom, Trg SNCO 20 Tpt Sqnadron RLC. This will only be my second time sailing, however, the other occasion was Transglobe in 1998. I am looking forward to getting my sea legs back, my job on the boat is Master at Arms, responsible for good order and discipline on and off the yacht, so I am known as ‘Daddy’!

LCpl Matthew Wright, 35 SHQ 3 Log Sp Regiment, Abingdon. I have never sailed before so for me this will be my first sailing experience, I am very keen to learn and open minded to the hard work that lies ahead and the new challenges that await me in the Southern Ocean, looking forward to getting to know the crew and finding my place on the boat. I am also still overwhelmed that I have this chance of a lifetime to do something so thrilling.

Lt Dave Mason, Tp Comd 13 Tpt Sqn, 8 Regt RLC.  With experience in sailing both Nicolson 55’s and Victoria 34’s in UK waters, the once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in Transglobe is a great chance to build sailing experience to a whole new level.  It’s not all plain sailing as the price to pay is being handed responsibility to produce the post exercise report during/after our return.

Sgt David Kelly, Post SNCO, HQ UKSC, JHQ. I have several weeks sailing here and there, but this will also be my first experience on a long passage. I will be the assistant purser on board and I am really looking forward to shopping for 14 people for 6 weeks; 1764 meals or 2½ years food for a couple. How many trolleys will we need?

Pte Hayley Kemp, 17 Port and Maritime Regiment. I’ve only had a few weeks sailing experience so far and I absolutely love it; I jumped at the chance to travel to the Southern Ocean for a long passage. I’m not really sure what my job will be, but as I am the only girl on a boat with another 13 lads I am sure it will be cooking, cleaning and making the brews.

Pte Matthew Arnold, 43 Sqn, 12 Log Sp Regiment. For the last 6 months I have been attached to British Kiel Yacht Club in Germany. Whilst at BKYC I have had the opportunity to do lots of sailing and was recently awarded my Day Skipper qualification. I’m looking forward to the adventure that awaits us.

First blogs from the Army crew

Having arrived bright and early on Thursday morning to Ex TRANSGLOBE HQ in Gosport the crew undertook a series of briefings and kit issue.  As a crew we had the opportunity to get to know each other prior to flying out to start a very unique experience.

Sailing in the Southern Ocean has the same kinds of admiration for sailors as climbing Everest holds for climbers.  For those with very little or no experience of sailing this will certainly be a challenging and rewarding start.

For the rest of the day the crews got together last minute items before our flight the following day.

Day 1

After 24 hours of travelling and changing flights in Johannesburg the team were very grateful to arrive at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town.

Walking out into the harbour and seeing the three yachts lined up awaiting their epic journey through the Southern Ocean was a great sight.

After initial briefings about the layout of the club and how long we were likely to stay, each of the teams moved to their yacht.  Before we could do anything else we were split into our three watches, the shift pattern that we will work through until our arrival in Perth in 6 weeks time.

After our berth allocations we were able to unpack and make ourselves at home in our yachts.  With only a small box the size of a milk crate to put all our belongings space is a premium on board.

For the rest of the day we got ourselves familiar with the yacht and its layout before getting to know the systems in place on the yacht.  In the evening we split up each of the teams for a dinner to get to know the people that were sailing for each of the other services.


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