Her Majesty's sail training craft Adventure arrives in Perth

After overcoming storms in the Bay of Biscay, flat calms and intense heat in the Doldrums, huge ocean swells in the South Atlantic and days of beating to windward across the Indian Ocean, Her Majesty’s Sail Training Craft Adventure has arrived in Perth at the end of Leg 4 of the British Army’s adventurous training expedition, Mercury Challenge.

With 5 months and more than 13,000 nautical miles of her circumnavigation behind her, Adventure is currently sailing a qualifying passage from Perth to Sydney by the 14 servicemen and women who will shortly start preparing the yacht and themselves for the start of the 2006 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race.

There’s a saying in the Army that ‘if it isn’t raining it isn’t training’. As one member of the Project Team remarked recently, “If the expedition didn’t present a few challenges along the way, then we wouldn’t call it adventurous training!” There’s no doubting, however, that the four crews who have brought Adventure safely to Perth have already had their share of challenges. Fortunately for them their job has been made easier by their top of the range navigation suite, provided by one of the expedition sponsors Raymarine. As the yacht’s skipper, Major Charles Roberts commented: “The Raymarine RayTech v6.0 software has allowed us to download GRIB weather files, and the three day forecasts have revolutionised how we route the yacht across the oceans.”

Although the yacht’s afterguard are all experienced blue water sailors, crossing some of the worlds’ toughest oceans has been a completely new experience for many crew members, and for some Mercury Challenge is proving to be a life-changing experience.

Thus far those who have completed their legs of the expedition have all returned to their units positive about their experiences – especially about the sense of teamwork that comes from spending a month on a 67ft yacht with 14 strangers and nowhere to escape to!

Although the majority of those taking part are full time soldiers, some of the crew are members of the Territorial Army and come from a broad range of backgrounds including teachers, accountants, computer programmers and physiotherapists. Several soldiers and officers taking part have only recently returned from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan – though a 4,000-mile sea passage hardly counts as rest and recuperation!

What everyone agrees upon, however, is that, irrespective or rank or age, Mercury Challenge is giving each and every one of the one hundred men and women taking part an experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

In all of her ports of call, from Portsmouth to Perth, Adventure has generated huge amounts of local interest in her crew, the expedition itself and, of course, Raymarine whose generosity has made the whole thing possible. To find out more about Mercury Challenge and follow Adventure’s progress as she completes her circumnavigation then log onto the expedition website at www.mercurychallenge.mod.uk