A combined Navy and Rotary crew has emerged from a sea of sand, flour bombs and water cannons to win this year’s Henley on Todd Battle Boat Spectacular in Alice Springs.
With support from hundreds of raucous spectators, the 16-person crew aboard ‘HMAS Courage’ sank the hopes of rivals ‘the Vikings’ and ‘the Pirates’, to claim back-to-back titles.
Navy Community Engagement Program coordinator, Chief Petty Officer Tony Thomas, said charity was the real winner. More than $5000 raised by competitors and Rotary during the Regatta was donated to the McGrath Foundation.
“The Henley on Todd is a fantastic opportunity for Navy to contribute to our local community, get our message out and reward our hardworking servicemen and women with some respite and fun,” he said.
Courage underwent a redesign before the spectacular and, for the first time, proudly bore the pennant number of HMAS Arunta: 151.
The Arunta name comes from the Arrernte Aboriginal people of Central Australia, the traditional owners of Mparntwe (Alice Springs).
The Henley on Todd is an iconic boat regatta held each year on the dry sandy bed of the Todd River in Alice Springs. It is the only regatta in the world to have been cancelled due to water in the river.
The Spectacular is the culminating event and involves three motorised ‘boats’ - Navy, Pirates, and Vikings - meeting inside an arena to do battle with water cannons and flour bombs. The crowd decides the winner.
The aim of the Navy Community Engagement Program is to improve the community’s knowledge of Navy. The program also helps the officers and sailors in the relevant state or territory to gain a greater awareness of the community they live in.
Chief Petty Officer Thomas and about nine other servicemen and women travelled from Darwin and Adelaide to Alice Springs to volunteer and participate in the Regatta.
They visited Yirara College and Old Timers Village and took part in the Vietnam Veterans Day service.
The victorious HMAS Courage was crewed by Chaplain Rainer Schack, Lieutenant Andreas Wittmann, Chief Petty Officer Tony Thomas, Leading Seaman Nick Clancy, Leading Seaman Matthew Lower, Leading Seaman Emma Macnab, Able Seaman Sam Nona, Seaman Georgia Burgess and Seaman Hannah Walsh.
Note: HMAS Courage is purpose built for the Henley on Todd Regatta and is not a commissioned ship in the Royal Australian Navy.