Kayaking to keep fit to fight

Published on LCDR Helen Ward (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney, New South Wales

Royal Australian Navy personnel from HMAS Kuttabul raft their kayaks together to allow Petty Officer Mathew McDonald to move between Kayaks during the introduction to kayaking lesson at Garden Island Naval Base, Sydney NSW. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
Royal Australian Navy personnel from HMAS Kuttabul raft their kayaks together to allow Petty Officer Mathew McDonald to move between Kayaks during the introduction to kayaking lesson at Garden Island Naval Base, Sydney NSW.

Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer has challenged all Commanding Officers to promote physical fitness within their commands through encouragement of participation in sport and outdoor activities.

Beside the obvious advantage of improved physical fitness, mental agility is enhanced by the concept of fit body, fit mind. This is exactly what Rear Admiral Mayer, envisaged when he recently issued Flag Order 10 - Fit to Fight.
 
Personnel from Sydney's Fleet Base East recently took advantage of their proximity to Sydney Harbour by getting out on the water in kayaks.

After a safety brief the small group of paddlers was put to work as a team.

Their first task was to demonstrate the stability of the kayaks by forming a ‘raft’ for each participant to walk across.

Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Support Operations Mathew McDonald said the kayaks were incredibly stable when rafted together.

"I felt for sure I was going to topple in the water but not one us fell off the raft," he said.

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Personnel Operations Amanda Lewis , who normally deals with complex administrative problems, said her confidence grew with each stroke and it was a great experience for someone who had never been kayaking before.

“I absolutely loved it and look forward to attending the upcoming sessions,” she said.

Confidence and individual resilience from these activities are essential enablers of a workforce culture that is active, and promotes wellness and fitness.

Fleet Sports and Recreation Manager, Lieutenant Ian Rush developed an activities program aimed at all levels of fitness and said it was great to see everyone paddling in the same direction.

“The stress of emails, telephones and the office are left far behind when you are gently paddling through the calm waters of Sydney Harbour,” he said.

Lieutenant Rush invoked some competitive spirit in a race circuit, designed to develop more dexterity with the paddles.

All participants agreed it was a fantastic experience and Navy personnel at all levels are encouraged to participate in physical activities in small teams to reinforce the skills and behaviours needed in ships at sea.