EXERCISE TRANSGLOBE NEWS UPDATE #15
Issued: 26 January 2010
Media Enquiries: Peta Stuart-Hunt | Press Officer
T: 01590 679621 or M: 07711 477707
The Big One beckons – the deep Southern Ocean and Cape Horn awaits
The Challenge 67s have just undergone a routine maintenance programme in Auckland in preparation for this monster of a leg
Three new crews are preparing for the start of Leg 8 of Exercise TRANSGLOBE from Auckland, New Zealand although, right now, they’re at Project HQ at Fort Blockhouse in Gosport, Hampshire. The challenge that lies ahead in this next stage of the largest-ever adventurous training exercise ever mounted by Britain’s forces, namely taking on the Southern Ocean and rounding Cape Horn, demands that all participants have completed the RYA Sea Survival Course held at the Joint Services Sail Training Centre (JSASTC) in Gosport. Amongst those going through the training are members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers recently returned from operations in Afghanistan*.
Forty servicemen and women will depart the UK from Heathrow tomorrow, Wednesday the 27th January, and arrive in Auckland, New Zealand, via Hong Kong, early on Friday 29th January. They will then meet up with their respective skippers on board the yachts in Auckland harbour for a scheduled start on 3rd February. The yachts, three 67 ft steel-hulled former British Steel Challenge boats, will be fresh out of a two-week maintenance period that included a full hull and rigging inspection under the watchful eyes of the Naval overseer and the boss of JSASTC, Nick Trundle and the JSASTC Fleet Operations Manager, Vaughan Marsh. Nick has a particular interest in the depth of this routine maintenance as he is skipper of Adventure, the Royal Navy yacht for this Leg.
The challenges include up to 45 days at sea + good judgement on the weather & provisioning!
The total nautical mileage for this section is 6,300, the longest of the Exercise and requiring a possible 45 days at sea for the crews, some of whom are novice sailors. It is hoped that the yachts will average 7 knots and take only 38 days to round Cape Horn and travel up the East coast of South America but the crews will have to buy and store sufficient provisions to last for the full 45 days as winds in the South Atlantic are notoriously unreliable. The final destination is Punta del Este in Uruguay, situated at the northern entry to the River Plate.
Owing to the particular challenges of this stage of the Exercise, all skippers have been given specific instructions about the route to take to pass Cape Horn. They are not permitted to sail further south than 51°S until East of 105°W, then no further South than 54°S until east of 95°W, then no further South than 56°S until east of 80°W and then no further south than 57°30’S. Yachts are to sail no closer than 3nm of Cape Horn.
Weather will play a major factor in the tactics used by the three crews. They have access to the US UGRIB weather site to download weather predictions and will also receive messages from ground stations via the SATC system. Nevertheless, they will be expecting high winds, predominately from the West and mountainous seas. All will be aware of Adventure’s knockdown during Leg 4 and will be taking all steps to avoid a repeat.
For the Royal Navy on Adventure, the skipper Nick Trundle has a very strong team that includes four Yachtmasters, one Coastal and three Day Skippers. One of the Yachtmasters, Nikki Woodroffe, will be on her second consecutive leg of TRANSGLOBE having sailed from Hobart to Auckland as 1st Mate on Leg 7. Nikki is a Lieutenant in the RN Reserves and is a teacher and CCF instructor at Kelly College, Devon. Laura Cambrook is a sailing novice but has a strong sense of adventure. As a Lieutenant in the Fleet Air Arm, she is between courses to become a fully trained Observer on the Lynx helicopter.
Onboard Challenger the Army yacht, JSASTC staff skipper Becky Walford will have charge of a crew from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Becky is fresh from her success in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race as the skipper of Discoverer the RAF yacht that won the Oggin Trophy presented to the first Armed Forces entry and as the first female skipper to cross the finish line. Her crew includes personnel only recently returned from operations in Afghanistan and she is skippering an all-male team. When asked why these soldiers want to climb on board a yacht and sail the toughest leg of TRANSGLOBE, the Regiment’s Press Officer, Captain Dan Wright, explained that this voyage is looked upon as a reward after such an intensive tour of duty. “The Fusiliers have really been in the thick of it and the Battalion has lost some men. The guys really need this.”
On the RAF yacht Discoverer is skipper Mike Symes from JSASTC who completed Leg 4 as skipper of the Army yacht. This time he has an RAF crew including three Yachtmasters, two Coastal and two Day Skippers. Dr Nick Carter is another member of the winning RAF crew in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race who is returning to the Exercise to face the challenge of the Southern Ocean. The two Coastal skippers are Flight Lieutenants Jo Rimmer and Jo Anderson both of whom are looking forward to sailing around the Horn. Jo Rimmer is a Doctor and Jo Anderson is a qualified physiotherapist but works in the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Cell at RAF Kinloss as a controller.
*Afghanistan Operational Synopsis
The Fusiliers have taken part in a number of key events over the past six months whilst deployed on OPERATION HERRICK 10. The Battalion has been deployed in Musa Qal’ah where they have conducted a number of operations to increase the security and the freedoms of the local population by working alongside the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police; testament to this, is that within the Musa Qal’ah area 10,000 local people were able to vote in the country’s elections. A Company was detached from its parent unit to work in Sangin, where they too have been conducting operations to improve the lives of the local population. All the soldiers of the Fusiliers Battlegroup have been enduring relentless attacks from the Taliban facing roadside bombs, rifle and machine gun fire as well as indirect fire from 120mm mortars that shake the ground under your feet for hundreds of meters from the point of impact.
Notes to Editors:
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.
Of special interest is Stage 11 taking place in May 2010 is between Antigua and Charleston. 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 service 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.
During each stage crew blogs are periodically 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 are captured and posted on the website after they reach their next stopover.
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