They call it Exercise Transglobe, but it will be war on the water when three identical 67-foot yachts, one Royal Navy, one Royal Air Force and one Army, line up in Sydney Harbour on 26 December for the 630-mile Sydney to Hobart Race.
They were in Gosport, Hampshire yesterday to launch a project that will see all three yachts go round the world in 13 stages, always crewed services personnel and combining out and out racing, adventure training, and opportunities for those injured or damaged by war and other traumatising experiences in the course of their jobs.
The travel bill alone has come to nearly £500,000, all of it raised by the 550 people who will take up crew slots or by some specialised charities. The timing – it all starts in July this year and will take a year to complete – has not made it easy to raise sponsorship.
Some has come from the Gill, the marine clothing company and its ceo, Nick Gill, plans to complete three legs, and personal locator beacons have been supplied by McMurdo but the project is largely self-supporting.
The second race leg is from Antigua to Charleston and will see four patients from the Headley Court medical facility on each of the three yachts. There could also be one on each of the other legs, which start with a run down to Lanzarote, across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro and then back across to Cape Town.
It is expected that members of 45 Commando of the Royal Marines will join the navy yacht from Cape Town through the Southern Ocean to Fremantle, Western Australia and, after Hobart, the yachts go on to Auckland, Montevideo, and Antigua. The last leg is from Boston back to Gosport.
While each yacht is assigned to a single service, the crews will be mixed in terms of ability, age and gender. There will also be cadets.
Introducing the project, Capt. Nick Fletcher (RN) remembered that the involvement of the services goes all the way back to the inauguration of the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973, now the Volvo Ocean Race. Sailing yachts around the world had, he said, been a most valuable part of services training.Reuse content