Smooth sailing for Navy team

Published on CPL Max Bree (author), ABCSO Steven Thomson (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney Harbour, NSW

Australian Defence Force personnel participate in the Inter-Service Yachting Championships held on Sydney Harbour. (photo: ABCSO Steven Thomson)
Australian Defence Force personnel participate in the Inter-Service Yachting Championships held on Sydney Harbour.

Navy yachtsmen dominated the Interservice Yachting Championships, winning the overall competition held on Sydney Harbour from 8-12 December.

Navy’s three boats placed second, third and fourth on the overall score sheet. Rarely did a Navy boat finish a race outside the top five.

Sub Lieutenant Chris Eddes, of HMAS Watson, skippered the best performing Navy boat, which placed second overall, behind an Air Force boat.

Royal Australian Navy personnel participate in the Inter-Service Yachting Championships held on Sydney Harbour. From left - Chief Petty Officer Jay Petiffer, CSM, Commander Paul Baston and Leading Seaman Nick Greenhill.

Royal Australian Navy personnel participate in the Inter-Service Yachting Championships held on Sydney Harbour. From left - Chief Petty Officer Jay Petiffer, CSM, Commander Paul Baston and Leading Seaman Nick Greenhill.

“We had some very experienced sailors in our team, as well as plenty of enthusiastic newcomers,” he said.

“I always thought that we had a better-than-average chance of winning the competition.”

Despite Navy’s dominance, the Air Force boat skippered by Sargeant Graham Baxendale took first place overall.

Sub Lieutenant Eddes said the weather was quite challenging, as hot days were followed by thunderstorms which turned light sailing conditions into stormy squalls gusting up to 38 knots.

“Every breeze imaginable was experienced,” Sub Lieutenant  Eddes said.

“It was a great week for sailors to be out on the water as we also had the chance to see both the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge and the Extreme 40s up close from the water.”

Sub Lieutenant Eddes joined the Navy in mid-2014 and this was his first Interservice Yachting Championship.

Winners of the Inter-Service Yachting Championships held on Sydney Harbour. (From left) Sub Lieutenant (SBLT) Tristan Atkins, SBLT Chris Eddes, Petty Officer Liam Heiser and Able Seaman Myf Rees.

Winners of the Inter-Service Yachting Championships held on Sydney Harbour. (From left) Sub Lieutenant (SBLT) Tristan Atkins, SBLT Chris Eddes, Petty Officer Liam Heiser and Able Seaman Myf Rees.

“Many factors contributed to the final result, apart from individual sailing expertise: inconsistencies between boats, unexpected wind shifts, other vessels on the race course, and sheer good or bad luck.”

Despite Navy’s strong performance, Sub Lieutenant Eddes had to keep a close watch on each race result.

“The leaderboard can show huge changes within just a few races, so you always have to keep an eye on it so nothing catches you out,” he said.

“At the end of a race, you reflect on your performance and assess where you could have sailed better.

“I’m always taking away lessons which I hope will improve my performance in the next race or at the next regatta.”

Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20143839.

HMAS Canberra sails past Australian Defence Force personnel participating in the Inter-Service Yachting Championships on Sydney Harbour.

HMAS Canberra sails past Australian Defence Force personnel participating in the Inter-Service Yachting Championships on Sydney Harbour.