TRANSGLOBE: RAF & ‘Disco’ take line honours to complete Leg 7 to Auckland


Issued: 12 January 2010

Media Enquiries: Peta Stuart-Hunt | Press Officer
T: 01590 679621 or M: 07711 477707

The Royal Air Force & Discoverer takes line honours to complete Leg 7 to Auckland

All three TRANSGLOBE yachts have now crossed the finish line in New Zealand and are on their way into Auckland harbour around 100 miles away.  The RAF, after their successful Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, has taken line honours, followed by the Navy and the Army.  The Royal Navy yacht, Discoverer, has a damaged spinnaker pole that needs to be assessed on arrival in Auckland and it has clearly been an eventful and memorable trip for all concerned judging by some of the blogs received.

Owing to severe restrictions on bandwidth for the yachts to send their blogs back regularly, the Gosport-based HQ has only just received the daily blogs in one hit. The final entry, received last night from the RAF yacht, sets the scene as the three yachts started to eat up the miles to the finish which was on a line projected north from Cape Reinga, the North point of North Island, New Zealand:

With roughly 200 miles to sail to the finish line, which is not Auckland itself but the very north west tip of New Zealand, things are getting exciting and we expect to cross sometime on Monday evening.  The three boats are very close although not in sight of each other yet.  The wind is currently holding 25-30 knots with a low pressure pushing up from the south and a squally cold front expected during the night, Gillean (The Weather guesser) thinks we could have very gusty winds, rain and a significant wind shift.  The shift on deck are preparing for all conditions by changing to the smaller foresail and putting another reef in the mainsail.  Vaughan our Skipper (who is not competitive at all) seems to be running around the boat getting excited by the final sprint, he is muttering about a spinnaker run across the line, most of the crew are muttering under their breath about more sail changes!  It is set to be an exciting 24 hours.

We have heard that the Army’s heads are a little blocked; not just one but both and we send our sympathies but now we know why they are called the ‘pongos’!

The injuries are mounting with one of the watches dropping like flies, our poor doctor spends time trying to fix people and ends up feeling very sea sick herself.  Jim was whipped with a rope and his hand has swollen to double the size so he has been renamed ‘the Claw’ due to his bandaging. Steve’s knee continues to hurt and his dancing career may be in jeopardy. Neil took a good whack in the face. Phil joined their shift to boost numbers and seems to have hurt his shoulder…!

After we cross the finish line it is another 250 miles to Auckland and we are hoping to pop into the Bay of Islands to have a look on the way south.
It has been a great trip so far and the crew are all getting on really well, the banter improves by the day and our Skipper and Mates have been fantastic.

From Adventure (Royal Navy) their blogger wrote on Day 5 out of Hobart en route to Auckland:

Replete on their breakfast of toasted bacon sandwiches, Blue Watch take over the Forenoon watch with two reefs in the main and the Number 3 Yankee up, having first negotiated the companionway blockage of whale watchers, who proved you cannot get four people through that hatch at the same time. Conditions are magnificent – clear blue skies, 30 knot winds gusting forty, from the South West, driving us Eastward in an increasing sea state. With High Pressure forecast, this could be as good as the Southern Ocean gets, in terms of the big seas, surfing down the front of waves, everyone getting into the groove as far as getting a feel for the steering, and feeling the muscular after effects from that steering effort. This was how those of us new to this kind of sailing had hoped and imagined it to be. Cameras were seen in abundance as helmsmen and women posed behind the wheel, in front of the foaming crests and rolling walls of water. Seasickness was largely overcome. Everyone was becoming familiar with the tiring effects of the established routines.

“The midday skippers’ radio schedule confirmed the fleet disposition, with ADV having by some margin the greater distance to run to the finish but, having kept to a more Southerly route, tactically well positioned to minimise the time under the effects of the high pressure (no wind), and then to pick up stronger winds developing from the West for a run up to the west of NZ to the finishing line. Challenger reported her position as some 70 odd miles further North and a little East, smack in the High Pressure System. The Race scoring system for legs takes into account finishing position, number of hours under engine, and penalties for equipment damage, to discourage skippers from driving their boats too fast at government expense. Quiet confidence from Nikki, doubling as tactician, she was barely able to contain her excitement, claiming that Boat Speed is God, never tiring from encouraging go, go go, faster sail changes and reefs with the stop watch rolling.  The day ended with Magnificent Moon rises, of the sort you can experience only at sea with an unbroken horizon; Star scapes, with the Milky Way cascading across the night sky, providing ample opportunities for most of us to display a general ignorance of astronomy, not that one could tell from the confident manner in which a little knowledge was shared; and sunrises, with just the on watch team there to witness the event, not another boat in sight, just sea birds, the wind and the waves, quality kit from the official sponsor GILL keeping everyone warm, sailing straight (in the groove), and as fast as possible.”

There’s been no word yet from the tail enders, the Army, on board Challenger who have also crossed the finish line but are in last place. Perhaps they’re simply taking some quiet time out to reflect on tactics that failed to secure that elusive first place slot!

Leg 8 of 13 is the longest of the entire year’s Exercise and takes the yachts from Auckland to Montevideo, a distance of 6,300 nm. The fleet is scheduled to leave Auckland and start this marathon on or around the 2nd February.


Notes to Editors:

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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