Issued: 21 December 2009
by Peta Stuart-Hunt

Members of the RAF race crew for Leg 6 Sydney-Hobart Race


Standings after five legs
After consideration of the damage incurred in the Southern Ocean on Leg 4 and the completion of the relatively benign Leg 5, the overall standings are:

  • 1st  RAF with 12 points
  • 2nd Army with 16 points
  • 3rd RN with 19 points

Sqn Ldr Neil Cottrell, Exercise TRANSGLOBE Project Team Leader sums up the Exercise thus far:

After five demanding and event filled legs, the yachts have completed 16,000 miles of the full 34,000 nm circumnavigation.  The boats are in excellent condition, a testament to the combination of the preparation they received before leaving the UK, and the maintenance work completed by all the crews.  The crews have received outstanding support and hospitality at each of the crew changeover ports and there’s a huge amount of interest in what we are doing, particularly in the use of sailing as an Adventurous Training activity.”

The British Armed Forces are running Exercise TRANSGLOBE, involving the Royal Navy, Army and the RAF each sailing a Challenge 67ft steel-hulled yacht around the world over a 12 month period.  The aim of this training Exercise, the largest ever undertaken, is to develop the personal qualities essential for members of the UK’s modern fighting forces.  The year-long voyage is broken up into 13 separate stages or ‘legs’, each of which has a different skipper and crew.  Some of the crew are very experienced sailors, whilst some are rank novices; very few have completed anything like the 5 week non-stop ocean passages that most legs comprise.  During a leg, the crew members sleep in cabins of 3, with a canvas sling each for a bunk and a single small drawer to contain all their gear and personal items.  Watch systems vary considerably with each crew, but a normal routine might be 4 hours on watch and 4 hours off watch – for the whole passage.

The experienced race teams from each of the Services have now arrived in Sydney and are preparing themselves and the boats for the challenge of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.  Their Crewsaver safety equipment has passed the mandatory six-monthly inspection and they are confident that their Gill OC Racer clothing will enable them to perform at their best.

HMSTVs Adventure of Hornet (Navy), Challenger of Hornet (Army) and Discoverer of Hornet (RAF) will be on the start line on Boxing Day, December 26th, jostling for position and racing for, amongst other things, the Oggin Cup, an inter-services trophy awarded at the end of the race that the CYCA (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia) has kindly re-instated for the winning military team. 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.

Physical and mental fatigue are clearly challenges to be overcome”
A member of the RAF, Flt Lt Morwenna MacGillivray, is about to embark on Leg 6, one of only two bona fide racing legs during this Exercise.  She observes: “Physical and mental fatigue are clearly challenges to be overcome, along with the sheer difficulty of managing the immense loads on the sails and rigging of a 40-ton steel boat; each member of the crew must learn to work effectively as a team member in order for the yacht to sail safely.  For most of us, a leg of TRANSGLOBE will be the greatest challenge faced in our Service careers, away from the front line of deployed operations.  The team-working skills we learn crossing the Atlantic or in the fierce Southern Ocean will be important elements of our personal development, and we will learn lessons that will enable us to be better prepared for the challenges that await when we return to deployed service in Afghanistan and other areas of high tempo operations around the world.”

Although Leg 6 is the shortest leg of the Exercise at 640nm, it will no doubt also prove to be the most intense as the crews racing on each of the three TRANSGLOBE yachts are determined to represent their country and their Service to the best of their ability with a fast time, and even hoping for some silverware.  The Sydney Hobart is one of the greatest ocean races in yachting’s grand prix racing calendar, and Morwenna says that the crews are excited and a little anxious about it as the time draws closer.  “Our Royal Air Force team has sailed together three times since selection began at the start of 2009, in order to ensure that we work together effectively as a team.  In August we completed the Rolex Fastnet Race in an historic yacht, HMSTC Dasher.”

The Royal Air Force boat undertaking Exercise TRANSGLOBE is HMSTV Discoverer (or ‘Disco’ as she has been nicknamed), and her skipper is Becky Walford.  Becky flew out early to Sydney in order to start the lengthy repairs the boat needed after the Southern Ocean crossings from Cape Town to Perth and then from Perth to Sydney.  The remaining RAF crew members flew out from Heathrow on 17 December with their Team Captain, Flight Lieutenant Pete Cooper, who is based at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire.  Other Disco crew members include Flight Lieutenant Tamsin Ryall, a Search and Rescue helicopter pilot from Chivenor in Devon; Sergeant Kez Parker, a Search and Rescue winchman instructing at Royal Air Force Valley in Anglesey and Wing Commander Nick Carter, from the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Unit Headley Court.  Morwenna, who is the least experienced member of the crew, is also based at Royal Air Force Valley in Anglesey, where she works in the Headquarters of the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service.

The TRANSGLOBE 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.

The Project Team and the thousands of Exercise TRANSGLOBE supporters will be watching the real time yacht positioning reports from the CYCA official website urging the teams on.  Whichever TRANSGLOBE team wins, the crews will have fulfilled their ambition to take part in this world famous race and will have fantastic memories.


Notes to Editors:
After the completion of the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, a new set of crew and skippers will voyage from Hobart to Auckland on Leg 7, a mere 1500 nm. However, the following Leg 8 is the longest of the entire year’s Exercise taking the yachts from Auckland to Montevideo, a distance of 6,300 nm.

The crew blogs are being uploaded to the official website but the crews are very restricted in the bandwidth and air time they can use, limited to two data bursts per week. It also means that crews cannot send photographs via the Iridium system, but they will be captured and posted on the website after they reach their next stopover.

The aim of TRANSGLOBE is to provide members of all three British Armed Forces with the opportunity to develop their personal qualities and team skills in a challenging environment that will test their physical and mental stamina, their courage and help them develop self confidence and powers of leadership.  Every other leg is being used as an adventurous training exercise whilst the emphasis on the alternate legs will be to encourage a spirit of Corinthian competition between the Services.

The Exercise re-affirms to members of the Armed Forces and the wider public that the Armed Forces are committed to the personal development of every sailor, soldier and airman, regardless of rank or gender, to reach their full potential.  It also serves as a demonstration of the superb Adventurous Training opportunities and facilities available to all service personnel throughout their careers.

Offshore sailing is arguably the most demanding environment in which personnel can test their mental and physical toughness by getting the best out of their boat to arrive safely at their destination. Exercise TRANSGLOBE has the honour of the Royal patronage of HRH The Duke of York, and the full support of the Service Chiefs.

Stage 11 in May 2010 is between Antigua and Charleston and each yacht will include crew who are recovering from wounds received in recent military operations and some medical support staff, all from Hedley Court and the Help for Heroes initiative.  Individuals may have lost limbs in combat but they are determined to prove themselves as effective members of their respective crews in all respects.  On arrival at Charleston they will be conducting joint land based Adventurous Training with members of the US Forces Wounded Warrior programme.


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