Landlubbers earn their sea legs
A crew of Army personnel will swap the field for the high seas as they prepare to compete in Boxing Day’s Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
The eight Army yachtsmen come with a range of experience; from those who’ve sailed in the event before, to novices who’ve only recently learnt the ropes.
Of these is crewman Lieutenant Colonel Jan Koudelka, who completed his first ocean race in the Sydney to Gold Coast event in July.
He’s wanted to sail in the Sydney to Hobart since being posted to Tasmania in 2013.
“I was watching boats come up the Derwent River, seeing it on the TV and thought it was exciting. I realised it would be a life-changing experience to take on,” Lieutenant Colonel Koudelka said.
Lieutenant Colonel Koudelka sailed on Army yacht Gun Runner in the Gold Coast event.
“I found I get sea sick very quickly, but I learnt to manage this and remain an effective member of the crew,” he said.
A 30-foot Jarken yacht, Gun Runner was acquired by the Army Amenities Fund in 1986 and is a veteran of two Sydney to Hobarts. It will be among the smallest and least technologically advanced boats in this year’s event, as well as being one of the oldest.
“I know my capabilities and limitations on water, but most importantly I understand how dangerous sailing can be,” Lieutenant Colonel Koudelka said.
“It is this respect for the sea and the crew that will ensure I get through safely and I hope to learn a great deal about myself, others and leadership.
“I hope the weather will be kind, yet at the same time I also want it to challenge us so I get the full experience. Hopefully not a 1998 experience, but one that forces me to question my own capabilities and those of the team.”
Gun Runner will have an ADF rival in the form of yacht Navy One but Lieutenant Colonel Koudelka said the aim was to safely finish the race.
“We are not a professional crew with significant experience and although we have completed some effective lead-up training, we have not had significant time on the water as a team,” he said.
“Despite this, I am confident that we will give Navy One a good challenge and with the right weather conditions, take out a number of divisional prizes again this year.”