Navy ‘Hotshots’ take out ADF Biathlon Championship

Published on LCDR Wendy Hughes (author), COL Jim Hutton (photographer)

Location(s): Mount Hotham, Vic

Topic(s): Biathlon, Snow Sports

Winning smiles - the Navy Nordic Skiing and Biathlon team took out the 2013 ADF Championships at Mount Hotham, Victoria. (photo: Unknown)
Winning smiles - the Navy Nordic Skiing and Biathlon team took out the 2013 ADF Championships at Mount Hotham, Victoria.

The annual ADF Nordic Skiing and Biathlon championships at Mount Hotham may be called Exercise Coolshot, but ‘hotshots’ may be a better name to describe the combined efforts of the Navy team in 2013.

In an outstanding team effort, the Navy took out the Defence championships, narrowly edging out a high performing RAAF side and a strong Army men’s team.

“It was all to do with team work and a can-do attitude, despite tough weather conditions,” said Col Jim Hutton, who was on loan to the RAN from the Royal Marines.

The annual competition combines the independent disciplines of Nordic skiing and small bore sports rifle shooting, in a challenging sport called Biathlon. The Navy newcomers for 2013 included a number of natural sharp shooters.

Competition for the Navy champion shot was tough with ABBM Michael Herbert (Patrol Boat crew ATTACK THREE) displaying fine form on the range with outstanding shooting in both the Men’s Open Biathlon Sprint and Men’s Patrol events.

“Coming straight from sea after a two year absence in the sport, it was hard to get back into form. My skiing was slower, but patrol boat time has helped me keep my shooting up to a good standard,” he said.

ABBM Herbert’s fine form secured him a berth in the Australian Defence Force representative team, which plans to compete against the British Defence Force in Germany, in January 2014.

Competition for champion shot was fierce between all competitors, with ABBM Herbert taking out the trophy by a one shot margin from LCDR Garry Lewis.

Outstanding novice and champion Navy male skier, ABCD Tom Hale of HMAS Waterhen, CPOMT Chris Ware from HMAS Cerberus and HMAS Toowoomba shipmates ABMT Dan Mendonca and ABCIS Matt Robertson, combined with a strong ladies team of POSTD Vickie Austin (HMAS Cerberus), ABEW Emma Toogood (RAAF Base Edinburgh), ABMED Zoe Chesworth (HMAS Stirling) and ABETW Jess Healey (Simpson Barracks) to edge out the opposition in a hotly contested novice competition to win the overall ADF Novice championship title.

AB Emma Toogood had never seen snow before attending this year’s event.

“The snow is amazing, the coaches are great and there was a good positive vibe from everyone in the team.”

“As a novice I felt encouraged to try a sport I never really knew existed,” AB Toogood said.

Sharp shooter ABETW Jess Healey also tackled cross country skiing for the first time this year.

“The experience was exciting and far exceeded my expectations. I thought it would be harder but manageable skiing distances and being able to focus on shooting when I came into the range gave me the break I needed to maintain a good pace,” he said.

The Navy Open Ladies produced consistently good results, edging at the RAAF team to take out the ADF Women's Biathlon trophy, ADF Women's Track trophy and ADF Women’s Patrol trophy. Navy team member LCDR Wendy Hughes (Workforce Modelling, Forecasting and Analysis - Navy) continued her good form of previous years to take out the overall ADF Women’s champion biathlete.

Seasoned campaigner LCDR Garry Lewis combined with fellow Navy male biathletes, COL Jim Hutton, POET Peter Sutton (HMAS Sydney) and ABBM Michael Herbert to score second place behind a strong Army side. The Navy recognised strong performances from a range of team members including joint champion male skiers ABCD Tom Hale and LCDR Garry Lewis, LCDR Wendy Hughes (Champion Female), ABETW Jess Healey (Novice Award), ABBM Michael Herbert (Champion Shot) and ABCD Tom Hale (also awarded the Brian Read Coaches Award).

The Navy team was managed by WOET Ian Waller (HMAS Cerberus) for the seventh successive year.

“It was a fantastic team effort - after winning the Defence championships two years ago and narrowly missing out last year, I am excited to see many gutsy efforts, plus grit and determination shown by every member of the Navy team this year,” he said.

“All participants should feel proud of our win for Navy this year.”

Anyone keen to participate or learn more can contact WO Waller on or visit