Navy team take home sailing honours in New Zealand

Published on LEUT Christopher Broadbent (author)

Winning the final race of the Tri Nations Sailing competition was the highlight for the Royal Australian Navy team during the week at the Bay of Islands in New Zealand's north in late January. (photo: Unknown)
Winning the final race of the Tri Nations Sailing competition was the highlight for the Royal Australian Navy team during the week at the Bay of Islands in New Zealand's north in late January.

Winning the final race of January's Tri-Nations Sailing competition at the Bay of Islands in New Zealand’s north was the highlight for the Royal Australian Navy team.
 
New skipper, Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Frank Lenzo, under the tutelage of primary skipper for the Australian contingent, Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Joshua Bignall, made the bold decision to fly the spinnaker of their boat Mako II across the start line in a very narrow and heavily congested anchorage at Kawau Island.
 
Able Seaman Lenzo led the field down the coast of the North Island and on into Waitemata Harbour on Auckland Day, proudly flying a spinnaker as he led the Royal Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy teams across the line.
 
“The philosophy at Navy sailing is to get the junior guys and girls out of their comfort zone and into positions of responsibility requiring leadership and action,” Chief Petty Officer Bignell said.
 
“With the right team providing guidance and support we see people thrive as Able Seaman Lenzo did today.
 
“For a crew of varying experience levels, many of whom have not sailed together before this regatta, it has been a pleasure watching them refine their teamwork and communication.”
 
The Royal Navy team, in their vessel Paea II, won seven of the nine races that comprise the series. 
 
The event was hotly contested and the Royal Australian Navy team of 11 personnel was selected from members of the Navy Sailing Association whose sailing experience has been largely built among a fleet of five Swarbrick 36’ sail training craft.
 
Fine weather and a steady sea breeze provided the mixed fleet of yachts with a reliable 15 knots of wind for the majority of race starts.
 
Aggressive manoeuvring and tactical play was employed by the three nations on the start line as skippers attempted to gain advantage over their rivals, all of whom were sailing identical Chico 44 mono-hull yachts kindly provided by hosts. 
 
For all but two starts, the three nations were neck-and-neck over the line with each team working tirelessly to maintain sail trim as the skippers looked for any opportunity to establish a lead over the opposition.
 
Two windward/leeward courses were raced on each day of the three-day regatta, putting crews through their paces with rapid tacking duels battled out on the upwind legs where the Royal Australian Navy team demonstrated slick teamwork and fine helmsmanship.
 
Downwind legs were a battle between crews to show who was able to most readily take charge of flying the enormous asymmetrical spinnaker.
 
Each day a third and final 'round-the-bay' race was held, providing a great opportunity to take in some of the impressive scenery the Bay of Islands has to offer.
 
Seaman Marine Techician William Sherman said it was an experience to remember.
“I’ve never been to New Zealand before and to come here to the Bay of Islands for such a large international regatta has been a fantastic opportunity,”he said.
 
Chief Petty Officer Bignell praised the Royal New Zealand Navy for their hospitality and flawless execution of what he described as a wonderful event, that provided more than 30 personnel from three nations an opportunity to work and socialise together and, most importantly, to learn from each other about a skill steeped in the traditions of their service.