Feb - Apr 2015


Feb - Apr 2015
It isn’t a sport designed for men with colossal waist lines; quite the
opposite. Our own Features Editor, Flt Lt David Hanson picks up the
rope, takes the strain and pulls… accepting the challenge to win a
place in the RAF Tug Of War Team at the Houses of Parliament.
During the summer, members of the RAF
Mountaineering Association departed for
Bolivia to participate in extreme high-altitude
trekking and mountaineering activities in a
particularly remote location
18 Street Luge Event
Three personnel selected for GBR Natural Luge
next year following the Street Luge Event held
at RAF Halton.
A season of ups and downs for
The famous Brands Hatch
circuit was the first outing of
the 2014 season ….March
2015 has finally arrived and
RAFMSA Captain David Blakey
is looking for more trophies
in the ThunderSport GB Club
26 Soaring
Becca Ward gives her take
on ‘Girl Power’ with her first
experience of competing
in the Inter-Services gliding
The European Age Group Championships took
place in Kitzbühel, Austria. The event saw 6
athletes from the RAF successfully compete in
both the Sprint and Standard distance races.
Five riders attended a gruelling three days of showjump training before competing at the international
equestrian venue, Hickstead. Amongst them was Sgt
Keeley Skinner on ‘Sid’; riding for the first time in the
RAF Equestrian Association Development Squad.
Winter has passed…what are your plans
for Spring?
The RAF Snowboard Team Winter Camp - 2 wks in Austria
50 CAN’T
Exploring the challenging world of touch
rugby….harder than first thought!
On a beautiful July morning, 11 members of the RAF
Central Band set off from the Water Sports Centre at
Danesfield on Ex THAMES ENDURANCE, rowing 90km
over 3 days.
Send us your articles RAF Active publishes every 3 months, Feb-Apr, May-Jul, Aug-Oct and
Nov-Jan. Let us worry about the deadlines, we just want to hear from you.
Send your article to any of the editorial team or use the online form at
www.rafactive.co.uk, thanks!
Editorial Team
Matt Tope
[email protected]
95237 6560
Deputy Editor-in-Chief
Dave Hanson
[email protected]
9541 31091
Specialist Sub-Editors
Air Sports Editor
Kevin Morley
[email protected]
95751 6984
Ball & Racquet Sports Editor
Dave Sellers
[email protected]
95237 7189
Cycling Editor
Features Editor
Fighting Sports Editor
Emile Syrimis
[email protected]co.uk
95461 7015
Equitation Editor
Alison Cartlidge
[email protected]
95233 6240
Land Based Editor
Cordie Welsh
[email protected]
Motor Sports Editor
Max Rundle
[email protected]
95922 3308
Running/Athletics Editor
Dave Hanson
[email protected]
9541 31091
Water Sports Editor
Gill Rodwell
[email protected]
What’s On Editor
Rachael Lee
[email protected]
95221 7181
Picture Editor
Dek Traylor
[email protected]
Triathlon Editor
Ben Lonsdale
[email protected]
Winter Sports Editor
Claire Collis
[email protected]
95351 6315
Management Team
If you would like to join the RAF Active team and encourage others to get out and make the most of what the Service
has to offer, then just send an email to our OIC, Stu Clarke at [email protected]
Stu Clarke
[email protected]
95221 6932
AVM Julian Young
[email protected]
Anushka Gunawardana
[email protected]
95221 6150
Distribution Manager
Iain Lamb
[email protected]
95751 6883
Martin Harris
[email protected]
95421 8361
Distribution Support
Ben Milner
95461 5820
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Why not check out the RAF Active Facebook page?
Last November I found myself battling from the
northern tip of the Lake District to the most southerly
point ‘Cartmel to Caldbeck’, having recklessly agreed to
undertake a 48-mile “ultra run”. More careful research
would have revealed that it encompassed all the major
peaks within the Lakes area, and may take some time.
It did, however, give me some time to reflect......
There are 51 approved sporting associations within the
RAF Sports set-up, and over the last few editions of RAF
Active we have published exploits from a fair few of them.
Triathlon, winter sports and water sports feature heavily,
but there are numerous ‘minority sports’ out there that
we would also like to cover. This edition covers horseriding, gliding, rowing, Tug of War, rugby and a summit
attempt mountaineering in Bolivia. Despite Defence Cuts,
“Doing More With Less” and the gapped posts which
typify the current era, there are still opportunities out there
to participate. Centralised ski expeds such as the Eagle
schemes, Inter-Station Cross-Country events, CO’s Cup……
there are opportunities to get stuck in.
I have now taken over as Editor for RAF Active, and see some
random and inspirational endeavours. Just before Christmas
we saw the winning articles from the “Article of the Year”
- a cross-Atlantic rowing enterprise and a horse-trekking
trip to Namibia. My congratulations to Reanne Benson as
runner-up and to the winner, Flt Lt Liz Beauchamp, for her
“Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge”. They got out there
and “did it” - then took the time to write about it so others
were encouraged.
I work in Recruit
Training, and it is
heartening to see a
recruit pick up a copy
of RAF Active, and
see realization dawn
upon them that there
IS more to Service
life than endless kit
prep and drill. I know
of 2 individuals who
are short-listed for
a summit attempt
on Everest, and just
received an email
from 4 lads from
Valley undertaking
a 500km adventure race in Africa. Yet one of the more
inspirational articles I read recently was from a contributor
who undertook ParkRuns of just 5km in order to get himself
back in shape, and has maintained this effort.
For those interested, I completed the race in a distinctly
average time, with sore legs, having been totally ‘carried’
by my friend Ben (who is definitely chunkier than me!), but
he taught me a lesson in endurance that day. Enjoy this
edition - and if you are undertaking something a little out
of the ordinary, get in touch and tell us about it. You will be
helping inspire the next generation of recruits with whom
we will all serve in the near future.
by Sqn Ldr Matt Tope
Officer Commanding
Recruit Training Squadron
specialises in high altitude, mountaineering,
climbing and trekking expeditions in the various
ranges of the Andes mountains in Bolivia.
Our services are second to none, we boast a team of some of
the finest, most knowledgeable, most experienced guides in the
country together with only the highest quality technical equipment.
✓ Offices in the UK and Bolivia
✓ Tailor made expeditions and set departures
✓ One of the few companies in the country which can
provide guides with UIAGM qualifications.
Dare to take
on Bolivian
be inspired!
w w w. b o l i v i a n m o u n t a i n s . c o m
Email: inf [email protected] bolivianmou ntai ns .com
01273 746545
submit your article at www.rafactive.co.uk
The RAF Team
take the strain
on the rope in
the first ‘end’.
Photo Flt Lt
By Flt Lt David Hanson
“PUSH!”, “Left!”, “PUSH!”, “Left!”,
“PUSH!”, “Left!”… and so the
bellowed commands and
motivation continued. The rope
creaked and cracked as it flexed
under the strain. This was the
3rd attempt and still the training
‘weight’ didn’t move...
As my muscles strained and fatigued I
couldn’t help but wonder at what on
earth I had got myself into! It all began
with the gauntlet being jokily thrown
down by the coach and manager FS
Gareth Davies after a chance meeting
at the RAF Sports Board Conference.
The challenge had initially been to
simply attend and write a thrilling
article. However, as I am not one
to shy away from any challenge, I
accepted - but only if I was permitted
The RAF Team line up and prepare for battle
again in the second ‘end’. CT Mullaney
to fully audition and hopefully
win selection! This led to me
attempting to gain a place
in the RAF Tug Of War Team
on a cloudy morning at RAF
The training session began
straight away. After an epic
journey from Gloucester I
only had time for a quick inbrief and name-exchange within
a group that had a spectrum of
competitors from novice through to
vastly experienced – but everyone had
a lot of determination to win a coveted
place on the rope. The learning curve
went up steeply. The training had to
be rapid and it had to be ‘in at the
deep end’ as time was very short - the
competition began in 11 hours and
there were an awful lot of people
counting on us.
The training session alone was the
embodiment of ‘challenging personnel
through sport’, and got harder and
harder with each pull. The fatigue
approaches very quickly when you are
pulling with all your strength. We were
only training in bouts of 1-3 minutes
and my forearms and fingers were
cramping up severely. As competition
bouts can easily go for over 14 mins
over 3 ‘ends’ I am not surprised that
this is called a War; it’s a tough sport. It
combines sheer physical strength with
a lot of technique and requires 100%
team co-ordination. It demands true
determination if you want to win. The
fight is mostly against grip and muscle
fatigue but you still always want to
beat the other team. You definitely
can’t do it on your own; you need a
The competition was held that same
evening in the gardens of Westminster
The RAF Team
dig deep as the
competition and
the effort leap up
in intensity. Photo
Flt Lt Hanson
Abbey, in the shadow
of the Abbey and the
House of Lords. It was the
annual fundraiser in aid of
MacMiIlan, held for many
years now by the Houses of
Parliament and the House of
Lords called the Parliament
Pull. It is conducted in the
‘indoor’ version of the game
on a wooden matted floor
and involves considerably
different technique to the
outdoor variant. The RAF
Team had been well-trained
and practiced (all day up to
this point) in the challenge
and we were going to put
in every effort. The build-up
to the finals was electrifying.
Jeremy Vine (BBC Radio 2) was the
Master of Ceremonies and clearly knew
how to whip up a crowd. After the
warm-up, the preceding celebrity and
other competition matches we were
ready. We had avoided the canapés for
the entire evening prior to the weighin but it still took some swapping of
the team members for us to make the
competition weight.
As soon as the team was selected
and weighed a hush descended on
the Gardens. The RAF team lined up
against the 22 Signals Regiment Team.
We picked up the rope in unison.
We got into position. We ‘dropped’
together from the umpires’ signal and
gathered ourselves into the pulling
The coach and manager brief Jeremy Vine (MC) on the RAF
team before the competition begins – no team members were
injured by their smiles in this photo. Photo Flt Lt Hanson
The RAF Team ‘before’
the competition
began…no ‘after’ shots
available as no one
could hold a camera
after the exertion.
Photo Flt Lt Hanson
position faster than in any of the
training bouts. We applied every ounce
of strength from every sinew. The rope
strained, the marker barely quivered.
Seconds ticked by. Breathing was
getting heavier as heart rates shot up
to deal with the strain our bodies were
under. As the lactic acid surged through
our muscles, the marker started to
move; back and forth; time and time
again the team squatted to drive the
power out our opponents. The coach
shouted and menaced us to pull as
hard as we could. And we did. We put
in every effort we had. We held on for
as long as we could, but eventually the
Army team conquered. They had been
well drilled and practiced as a team,
The rope strained, the
marker barely quivered.
Seconds ticked by.
Breathing was getting
heavier as heart rates shot
up to deal with the strain
our bodies were under.
As the lactic acid surged
through our muscles, the
marker started to move;
back and forth;
and were formidable opponents. But
we had held them and made them
fight very hard for their victory.
Gracious in defeat, the team shook
hands with the opposition and retired
to the holding area to recover breath
and ease sore muscles. The coach was
impressed with our efforts and the
whole squad was happy with what
we had achieved in just one day. We
collected our medals – which just
happened to be gold, despite being
Silver Medallists and thankfully retired
to have a drink and some food. We
had competed to the best of our
abilities, but just didn’t have the edge
we needed in those vital minutes.
The journey home was long. After
an exhilarating day and competition
it was only marred by not thrashing
our opponents like we had wanted.
But with it being our, and certainly
my own, first attempt, the mind
focuses on the next opportunity and
challenge to do better….and that was
coming all too quickly in the outdoor
Edited by Flt Lt David Hanson
By Flt Lt Chris Fawcett
It’s 0637, I haven’t sIept properly all night,
and it’s -12°C inside the tent. Slowly extracting myself from
my bag, a cold shower of ice crystals detach from the roof
of the tent sprinkling onto my face as a reminder of what is
in store for me when I get outside. At just over 16,000 feet,
perched on a hard, icy glacier, the air is dry and the oxygen
content is 50% less than sea level. To make matters worse,
my winter boots have completely frozen solid, and today was
summit day.
Members of the
trekking team ar
e introduced to
Alpine skills. Sg
t Mitch Moore RA
F/Crown Copyrig
Having left Manchester to head to Bolivia’s
Cordillera Apolobamba region to undertake
Exercise Bolivian Venture, one plane journey
blurred into the next, and before we knew
it we had arrived in La Paz Airport, going
from sea-level to just over 4000m. Anyone
not quite suffering from jet-lag at this point
soon would!
The next few days were a bit of a blur, but
we were soon 4 days into our expedition,
driving along a dirt road, surrounded by
nothing but hills and mountains in this vast
and desolate place.
We eventually reached our first campsite
which was 50m away from a settlement of
llama herders. By the next camp we were
nearly at 5000m altitude; our bodies were
struggling to take on enough oxygen. We
conducted a drills and skills day covering
first aid training, alpine-style packing, glacier
crossing, and crevasse rescue. All of this
provided essential training to keep the team
safe in the unforgiving environment of a
high-altitude and remote mountain range.
That evening our expedition leader raised
the prospect of attempting our first peak of
the trip - Ascarani (5,580m). Several of us
took up this challenge and began readying
our equipment and ourselves for a 0400
start. After a gruelling journey, involving an
arduous traverse across a glacier, followed
by negotiating several large rocky steps
in crampons, all four teams succeeded in
summiting at just after 1000hrs at a height
of 5,580m.
With only half a day to recuperate, by
morning the mountaineering team were
on the move again, this time to what was
going to be our basecamp for the next few
weeks. With full packs, we crossed streams
and narrow ledges as we relocated further
up the valley.
After another rest day, the team were
starting to feel acclimatised enough for
our next peak; Palomani Grande. Using
the team INMARSAT satphone we were
able to keep friends and family up to
speed with the latest achievements. With
excellent teamwork and a good mental
attitude, we were already notching up
several 5600+m peaks, including Tres Marias
Main photograph: Steep Edges of Chaupi Orco.
Tait, Obree, Henderson, Rochford, and Fawcett on Chaupi.
and an unknown peak we
affectionately called “the
Pap”. The exped leader
made the decision that we
were strong enough to take
on the mountaineering
team’s main objective,
Chaupi Orco (6044m).
The first two teams
departed early the following
morning to set up high
camp on the glacier
which would act as the
stepping-stone to the
summit. Careful selection
and preparation of the site
followed by more strenuous
work building wind-breaker
walls around the tents soon
saw the small camp take
shape. At the same time
ice had to be melted which
was an almost constant task
to provide enough water
to remain hydrated and
prepare our own meals on
the stoves. With little else to
do at this height once the
camp has been set up, we
retired to our sleeping bags
at 1630.
I didn’t sleep properly all
night, and at -12°C inside
Sophie Foxen and Syringe.
Invicible Tour Bus.
Lunchtime Feast.
the tent, with oxygen
content at 50% less than
at sea level, with my winter
boots frozen solid, I knew
it was going to be a long
day. At this height, the
speed at which we are
travelling slows to a crawl,
and it becomes all about
placing one foot in front of
another, and regulating your
breathing. With my boots
unable to be adjusted, I have
to wait until they began
to thaw to allow me to
tighten up the laces so that
my footing becomes more
secure with the crampons
Ahead of us is the
steep ascent to the
summit, which requires
careful foot placement
and crampon work. One
small slip could see the
team dragged off their feet
and straight to the bottom
of the mountain.
The summit is now only
350m away, but at this
speed, and the lack of
available oxygen, it may
as well be 3.5km away.
Left photo: Excellent
views but tired faces as
the teams head down
after a successful summit.
Sgt Mitch Moore RAF/
Crown Copyright
Two of the mountaineering
teams head up for another
summit. Sgt Mitch Moore
RAF/Crown Copyright
Shallower ground lies just
above our position, but
to get to it we have to
negotiate a hanging crevasse
in the ice wall. Our rope
leader slides in to the mouth
of the chasm and edges
along, holding on to the
lip of it to stop him sliding
further in. The rest of our
rope team remain back,
paying out the rope to allow
our leader to pull himself
back out of the crevasse and
on to its roof towards slight
shallower ground. With the
team following his example
one by one, we were on to
the final push towards the
Slowly, methodically, we
pushed step-by-step, four
deep breaths in between
each move, up the final
ramp and eventually met up
with one of our other teams
who had beaten us to the
summit! Heading back to
High Camp, elated, we met
up with the next two teams
to make the attempt and
passed on as much info as
we could. We still had a long
walk back over the glacier all
the way back to Base Camp.
Over the next few days,
all the teams shared in the
summit success, enduring
the same aches, pains, and
euphoria of reaching the
top. This really gave the
expedition members a big
sense of achievement, and
recognised the hard work
that had been necessary to
get up here. However, it also
meant that before long it
would be time to return to
La Paz.
The four expedition
instructors headed down
to our previous base camp
where the Trekking Team
were now located, having
completed a long and tiring
circular route through the
Cordillera Apolobamba
mountain range. In doing
so they provided an
opportunity for a novice
team to experience glacier
training and experience
moving across crevasses
whilst roped-up. Hopefully
Distributed training being delivered on Alpine
mountaineering. Sgt Mitch Moore RAF/Crown Copyright
this has provided a taster
for future mountaineering
All good things come to
an end sadly, and before
long we were on another
marathon journey back to
the UK. As one chapter
closes another opens
however, and more hard
work and training will
pay dividends for the next
challenge ahead - the
upcoming British Services
Dhualagiri Medical Research
Expedition in 2016. This
is a Navy led Tri-Service
expedition made up of
trekking teams, High
Altitude Development
Teams (HADT) and main
mountaineering teams
Checking kit as two teams handed over at the high
camp before heading to the summit of the main
objective.Sgt Mitch Moore RAF/Crown Copyright
who will be looking
to successfully summit
Dhualagiri, which at
8,167m is the 7th highest
mountain in the world. More
information can be found
within the DIN2014 DIN07052.
If you want to find
out more about the RAF
Mountaineering Association
submit your article at www.rafactive.co.uk
you can visit http://www.raf.
From here you can directly
contact members of the
committee or search the
next available meet, in
order to get involved or you
can pick up a copy of the
RAFMA Journal.
Edited by
Sqn Ldr Matt Tope
• 14 triathlons and 2 runs nationwide
• Covering 7 counties,
including 2 kids fun triathlons
• Choice of indoor pool, outdoor pool,
lake and sea swims
• Enter as an individual or a relay team
• With 23 years experience you couldn’t
be in safer hands
ere... I enjoyed the
The event had a carnival atmosph
ld definitely do it
ends – Ryan
again and recommend it to my fri
Yorkshire – Warwickshire – Cheshire – Oxfordshire – East S
Loved the swim and exit format... and felt like the
Brown lee boys running & diving back in
– Arragons Cumbrian Tri Clu
I have done quite a few triathlons and that was the best
experience I have had and it was down to the race
organisers who were kind & encouraging from the start – Ali
“The greatest pleasure in life is doing the things people say we cannot do”
Telephone entry: 01270 842 800
or enter securely online: www.UKTriathlon.co.uk
UK Triathlon
Events Series
City of York Triathlon
26th April
Stratford 220 Triathlon
10th May
Cheshire Triathlon
31st May
Marshalls and signage made the ride easy to navigate
– Rob Harrison, Cardiff Tri Club
Sussex – Birmingham - Shropshire
UK Kids Fun Triathlon South
20th June
Henley-on-Thames Triathlon
21st June
South Coast Triathlon
4th July
South Coast Half Marathon,
10k & 5k Run
5th July
City of Birmingham Triathlon
19th July
UK Ultimate Triathlon
16th August
UK Ultimate Half Triathlon
16th August
UK Kids Fun Triathlon North
22nd August
The People’s Triathlon
23rd August
Good race commentator, good quality medals and swim caps,
well signed throughout, no real confusion on where to go whic h
could so easily have been the case.
A great team of people from registration through to finish.
Well organised with good instruction – Nick
UK National Club Championships
23rd August
City of Birmingham 10k & 5k Run
6th September
North West Triathlon
13th September
Warwickshire Triathlon
27th September
By SAC Lizzie Driver
Street Luge Event
After a successful Ice Camp at the beginning of the year, the RAF
Natural Luge Team hit the roads of RAF Halton at this year’s Street
Luge Event. The 3-day selection event gives novice riders the
opportunity to learn the skills required to safely navigate down a
Street Luge track, as well as providing a taster as to what to expect at
the next Ice Camp. Champagne moment
Day one began with SACs Sam Budd, Dex Unwin and Lizzie Driver assisting Flt Lt
Eddy Dunlop to explain the parts of the sled and the safety protocols, which are
an essential element of all Luge activities. They also gave a short demonstration
of the drills required for steering and stopping the sled. Ready for her first
experience of Natural Luge, Sgt Paula Spencer’s nerves abated after realizing
that safety was taken very seriously. With an appetite for speed the group
put this knowledge into practice at Armoury Hill. Flt Lt Barry Lloyd crafted a
simple track from the wet leaves then the novices and seasoned athletes alike
were able to practise steering and braking the sled in a safe environment. As the day progressed, all the novices showed a natural flair for Luge;
this allowed the track to be altered to include tighter corners, pushing all
the sliders to hone their techniques in preparation for the bigger hill the next
day. The morning of day two began at the final corner of the track; SAC
Lizzie Driver walked this corner with the novices to recap
on the skills they had learnt the day before and discussed
the best lines to take, whilst other experienced sliders
put protective padding over potential hazards. It
was then time to get back in the sled and start
negotiating the 90° left bend, initially at slow
Selecting the right line
On the start line the short but exhilarating
run lets gravity do its job and the luge
gathers speeds up to 40 km/h with sliders
just centimetres from the ground creating a
greater sense of speed.
speeds to build up confidence and refresh the technique,
then moving further up the hill to gain faster speeds. After practising this corner throughout the morning, the
afternoon saw the sliders progress to the start of the track
to tackle the starting corners and get the feeling of going
over the speed bumps. By the end of day two all the
sliders were ready for the race the following morning. Friday morning was bright and fresh; perfect for the
competitive race. As with all races, the most important
thing is to walk the entirety of the track; this not only
builds confidence in one’s ability to complete the track
safety but also to reinforce the good lines to drive to get
the best time possible. After everyone had one practice
run from top to bottom, it was time for the big race. Race numbers were allocated and tensions were rising as
people waited for their number to be called. Flt Lt Barry
Lloyd was timing at the finishing line and all results were kept
secret until the final presentation of the medals by Sqn Ldr
Adamson. With hearts pounding we all knew a good run
would win the day because everyone had the skills to take
the top spot. On the start line the short but exhilarating run
lets gravity do its job and the luge gathers speeds up to 40
km/h with sliders just centimetres from the ground creating
a greater sense of speed. The final corner took nerve and
required a steady line for victory to be secured. The Team outside Halton House
All the competitors made it down without any major
mishaps and the final standings in the novice category were:
SAC Sean Davies in third (59.80 secs), Sgt Dave O’Brien in
second (57.79 secs) and SAC Phil Harrison as the Novice
Winner with an impressive time of 56.21 secs. In the
female race, SAC Lizzie Driver took first in a time of 55.76
secs closely followed by Sgt Lisa Taylor (57.23 secs) and Cpl
Michelle Jude in third (1.06.88 secs). The overall winner was
Cpl Matt Jackson in a time of 51.76 secs; joining him on
the podium was Flt Lt Eddie Dunlop (52.40 secs) and SAC
Dex Unwin (53.63 secs). With competitive times submitted
by all riders it was a great way to end the 3 days of sliding
with participants saying ‘This is the most fun I have had in
a long time; I only wish it could
have been 3 weeks instead of 3
days!’ The next adventure will be
in Lusen Italy, but on the ice where
the speed and adrenalin will be
taken to the next level. If you want to see if Luge is for
you, register your interest with Cpl
Kev Homes 95871 7214. Three
RAF Luge athletes (SAC’s Lizzy
Driver, Dex Unwin and Sam Budd)
have been selected to represent
the GBR team on the World Cup
Circuit from Dec 14 to Feb 15 for
the Natural Luge. To follow their
progress or for more information,
visit the British Luge Facebook
page of follow RAF Luge.
Edited by
Sqn Ldr Claire Collis
Getting some air
A season of ups and downs for
I had the opportunity to
become Team Captain
for the RAFMSA riders in
the Thundersport GB club
championship. I wanted to
try to better the team and
get the Royal Air Force name
out there within the racing
I spent many evenings in front of
the computer (the better half wasn’t
too happy) sending out emails to
companies, from which I had two that
were more than happy to help. Hel
Performance committed to helping
the team out with Brake lines and
braided brake hoses and Silkolene
for oil and lubricants.
As this is only my second
season racing I was still trying
to learn the circuits. Some
are very technical with
regards to finding braking
points, turning-in points
and accelerating points
– there is a lot to do and
racing at speed tends to
occupy the mind!
The first race turned out
to be a hot one with regards
Blakey taking his first podium of his racing
Almost had his knee on the deck
Good weekend for Blakey picking up a trio of trophies
Still pushing hard in wet conditions
A rare occasion of the whole squad together
to the weather, I had never been to
Brands Hatch before and was a bit
wary of the Paddock Hill bend; some of
you will know that it can catch you out
in the blink of an eye. All weekend
I found myself struggling with the
pace of some of the racers but learnt
a lot at the same time. I was struggling
with the bike set-up for the first few
rounds of the championship but in July
at Rockingham something just clicked,
the bike and my confidence came
together; I was competing with the
600cc machines and battling with bikes
in the middle of the pack.
Sadly I missed the next round at
Anglesey due to work commitments
(being a Chef on 3 Mobile Catering
Sqn can be busy most of the year),
but when I turned up for Donington
Park (the penultimate round), my
confidence on the bike was still
high and after some very close,
tough but amazing racing I came
away with two 3rds and a 2nd
place trophy which were the first
of my racing career. I had such an
amazing feeling standing on the
Thundersport GB podium knowing
all my hard work and determination
over the past two seasons had finally
paid off.
In October it was the RAF Festival
of Motorsport held at RAF Barkston
Heath; this presented challenges in
itself as the track had not been used
for bikes before. The Car discipline set
the track up with some chicanes and
asked the bike riders if we wanted the
chicanes taken out. Our reply was “if
a car can get through then so could
bikes”! Throughout the day, even
though it wasn’t a “race” the cars and
bike riders were always checking to see
who had the quickest lap times. Lo and
behold the bikes were going quicker
than the majority of the cars which we
were more than happy with – especially
All photos by Cpl Ian Boldy
as we were on ‘their turf’. Only one
driver managed to top the quickest
time set by our fastest rider of the day
(Sgt Mick Riddle).
Mallory Park was the final meeting
of the season and the British weather
being the way it is nobody knew what
the weekend would bring. We had a
full squad of riders in attendance and
were aiming to win the Combined
Military Championship as we were
trailing behind the Army by 18 points.
As my first season as Team Captain it
is something I was determined to win.
Although everyone was going strong
on the Saturday securing good points,
Sunday was a different story. Three
riders (one being myself) crashed on
our first race in the morning but two of
us made it back out in the afternoon
after repairing our bikes.
It was a good race weekend for
everyone involved but we eventually
found out we were second to the Army
by just four points. At least we fought
it all the way to the end – and we were
all more than happy with the team’s
effort and performance throughout the
entire race season.
Now, after some serious pre-season
testing over the winter break we are
ready for March, when we shall be
doing it all over again. A few new
riders will be joining us for the 2015
race season, swelling the ever-growing
I would like to take this opportunity
to thank everyone who has supported
us throughout the season; RAFMSA,
RAF Sports Lottery, Hel, Silkolene
family and friends and to Cpl Ian Boldy
for all his time and efforts as team
If anyone is interested in joining
the RAFMSA road racing team then
please contact SAC Dave Blakey on RAF
Wittering 01780 783838 Extension
Edited by Cpl Max Rundle
Previously qualified
riders organising a
course for their Unit,
get their upgrade TTL
course FREE
Soaring High
By Flt Lt Becca Ward
Saturday’s weather started bright and we
woke early, knowing that this would be a
good competition day, with the forecast
for Sunday and beyond looking less
than ideal. Gliders were rigged, taped
and filled with water (ballast we could
jettison to improve performance)…
The challenge; to stay airborne on thermal columns of rising
air, and navigate around a pre-set task faster than everyone
else, handicapped dependant on your type of glider. Three
members of 8 Sqn - Mark Evans, Gaz Baker and Becca
Ward participated in the Inter-Services Regional Gliding
Competition (ISRGC) at RAF Cosford……
Gaz was placed in the Open Class in a Ventus; he’d need
to fly 198km. Entering as a Novice (first time competing
as a solo pilot) I was proud to be entrusted with a Discus,
my glider’s handicap of 99 placing me in the Sport Class
where the tasks set would be slightly smaller (I’d need to
Team 8 Sqn (l-r) Sgt Gaz Baker, WO Mark Evans, Flt Lt Becca Ward
Not Cosford, but at least at an airfield – thanks to ATC for their assistance
fly 140km). Mark’s role was that of Tug-master; directing a
fleet of light aircraft to aero-tow gliders. A grid launch of
50 gliders in 1 hour is a sight to behold, with all the tugs
streaming one after the other into the air and dropping the
towed gliders at 2000 feet a few miles from the airfield
before returning to pick up the next.
Having made a good start, I sped down a ‘cloud street’
towards the first Turn Point (TP), but then had to push out
into an area without clouds towards the next TP. Losing
lots of height I was rescued by a thermal triggered from a
farmer’s fire and returned north, slowing down to conserve
altitude. From there I found only weak thermals, but
managing to navigate around a rain shower, I successfully
reached the 3rd TP. Already in survival mode it was clear that
I couldn’t finish the task set and headed back to Cosford....
or so I thought. Unfortunately just above circuit height I
noticed that what I’d thought were gliders had much shorter
wings and propellers on the front, so quickly contacted
Wolverhampton Ha’Penny Green and landed safely there,
my crew bringing the trailer to pack the glider away again.
Overall a valiant effort, gaining 431 points and putting me
Down safely and waiting for the retrieve crew
9th out of 18 in the Sport Class.
Following two days of poor weather we were tasked
towards Stafford. Although the task distance was 111kms,
it was rarely more than 30kms from Cosford, improving the
chances of pilots landing at Cosford rather than in a field.
It was hard to find lift at first, but I managed to climb away
and track to the first TP; however the next leg involved
pushing forward into a strong headwind; nevertheless I
finally caught a good thermal and climbed to cloudbase.
Gaz joined this thermal as well; the Open task is often in the
same area but with different turning points to increase the
task distance. We tried to push into wind but its strength
and lack of lift in the sky had me creeping back towards
Cosford, where I eventually landed.
With a more favourable forecast, an ambitious 165km was
set the following day for the Sport Class down to Malvern.
I was close to the front of the grid, and had one of the first
tows into a very grey start sector. A few of us managed to
find climbs before the rain truly started pouring, though
the Open Class were recalled and had their task shortened
because of it. Keeping as high as possible in the murky cloud
I headed South, getting low just West of friendly Ha’penny
Green airfield. I spoke to them again, explaining I was
drifting towards them in my weak thermal and ATC kindly
let me carry on into their zone. Having climbed out of their
overhead it was South again, with gliders landing out in
fields around me.
The shower that had caught us in the start zone moved
South as well, and I used what little lift there was ahead of it
to stay airborne, knowing that behind would be only calm,
non-thermic air. After a low-level scrape over Worcester
and a dash into the TP, I then routed back to the North unfortunately directly into the ever-increasing shower which
was now impossible to avoid. I soared as high as possible
before scuttling through the shower at cloud base; you
have to fly faster with wet wings and in sinking air, reaching
around 90kts to push through the worst of it. As expected,
the air the other side was very flat, with no lift whatsoever.
I headed towards some wispy clouds and big fields and was
forced into carrying out a landing in a large stubble field.
Here I met the farmer and his wife who kindly offered tea
and biscuits and became the talk of the area when a couple
of horse riders found my glider deserted in the field.
What I didn’t realise until returning to Cosford was that
I’d done quite well to get so far, in fact once the scores were
in and counted it turned out I’d come second! The double
bonus was Gaz achieving second in the Open class as well, so
a great day out for 8 Sqn.
Unfortunately, following more days of bad weather, this
proved to be the last flying day of the competition. Overall,
the Royal Navy team narrowly beat the RAF ‘A’ team (by
248 to 237 points) in the team competition, and Cranwell
‘A’ team won the inter-club competition. AVM Reynolds,
Chairman of the RAFGSA closed the competition with thanks
to all involved; overall it was a fantastic experience.
If you’d like more information on how to get involved,
please contact your nearest Service gliding club – the RAF
have clubs at Easterton, near Lossiemouth, Cranwell, Cosford,
Marham, Odiham, Keevil (near the former RAF Lyneham) and
Halton, whilst the Army operate from Wattisham and Upavon
and the RN have clubs at Cauldrose, Yeovilton and Lee-onSolent. Most fly at weekends and Bank Holidays, although
some also offer opportunities during the week. In addition,
JSAT gliding courses are also run at RAF Halton (www.raf.
mod.uk/rafgliding) – contact your Stn PEd staff for more
Edited by FS Kev Morley
Close encounters
– thermalling with
another Discus
As expected, the air the
other side was very flat, with
no lift whatsoever. I headed
towards some wispy clouds
and big fields and was forced
into carrying out a landing in
a large stubble field…
By Fg Off Abi Bagshaw
The sprint distance race was the first event, taking
place on the Friday. This comprised a one-lap 750m
swim around the ‘Schwarzee’, 20 hilly kilometres
around the town of Kitzbühel on the bike, and then 5
further hilly kilometres on foot around the lake.
Sqn Ldr Nick Davies managed to collect his race
number and chip from the event registration with 4
minutes to spare before it closed. The frantic prep
continued; with the race being the next morning he
had to complete a practice swim, a bike recce (after
collecting the bikes from the transportation company),
a race brief, complete his bike racking, attend the
opening ceremony and consume some food before
getting an early night! Also competing in the sprint
event was Flt Lt Adam Sheppard who had a bit more
time to scope out the course; the profile of the bike
route looked rather fearsome but the reality was not
quite as bad: two steep climbs lasting approximately
9 minutes. These compared favourably to those who
had experienced the RAF Triathlon training camp in
Mallorca, which had the same gradient but lasted at
least 25 minutes! The descents were technical, with
hairpins and 90° turns – made a little more challenging
by the damp conditions.
On Thursday the water temperature was 22°C;
the weather conditions overnight would prove to be
critical as a non-wetsuit swim is compulsory if the
water temperatures rises above 22°C. For weaker
swimmers a wetsuit provides some much needed help,
with added buoyancy and increased streamlining. The
promise of cold rain falling overnight led to the weaker
swimmers doing a rain dance overnight; the efforts
clearly paid off as it rained heavily overnight, bringing
the lake temperature below the magical 22 degrees.
Nick’s weakest event, the swim, went rather well;
13:30 mins for 750m and a fairly rapid transition saw
him start the bike in 47th place out of 67. The climbs
didn’t prove too much of a problem but Nick’s bold
approach on the steep descent paid dividends and,
despite riding a road bike (rather than triathlon-specific
bike) he started the run in 40th position. The run was
more rolling than Nick expected and he carried on
his recent tradition of discovering a new injury every
time during the run, his strongest discipline. Despite
recurring knee pain at the beginning of every climb
he picked up 6 more places to finish 34th in his age
group. The competition was quite fierce, with Davies
having a battle on the run with a Swiss lady who
turned out to have won Gold in the Olympic Triathlon
in Sydney (he just won that one luckily). Nick was also
selected as Team Manager for the Age Group Team for
the European Standard
article at www.rafactive.co.uk
Racing on such a scenic course,
with elite athletes cheering from
the sidelines (including Alistair
Brownlee!) was something to
savour. Support from the crowd
was fantastic; it seemed everyone
was cheering for the GB athletes
in their bespoke tri-suits with the
Royal Air Force/Sports Lottery
The promise of cold rain falling overnight
led to the weaker swimmers doing a rain
dance overnight; the efforts clearly paid off as
it rained heavily overnight, bringing the lake
temperature below the magical 22 degrees.
Adam had a very strong run which came down to a sprint
finish, crossing the line at the same time as his competitor and
being awarded 16th place.
There was a spare day before the Standard Distance race on
the Sunday, enabling some valuable rest and recce time. Early on
Sunday morning SAC Luke Pollard from RAF Benson was the first
to take to the water. This race required one 1500m lap of the
lake, followed by 2 laps of the bike and run courses the sprinters
had completed. With some familiar faces from previous races
Luke had a good idea on what to expect from his fellow athletes.
A confident swim start took him into T1 (the first transition,
between swim and bike) in 10th place, then onto the hilly 2-lap
bike course. Luke had opted for his time trial bike. There had
been ongoing debate between all the GB team about the merits
of a road bike (being quicker on the descent and some of the
more aggressive climbs) versus a time trial bike which would be
quicker and more competitive on the flat parts of the course.
It seemed he made the right choice; Luke literally flew into T2
recording one of the fastest T2 splits of the day and set off onto
the run at a blistering pace. He managed to gain a couple more
places on the run taking him up to 4th in his Age Group; a
fantastic achievement!
Fg Off Abi Bagshaw (RAF High Wycombe) was next to take to
the water. Surrounded by a field of quality swimmers, Abi tried
to stay with the lead pack as long as possible, but eventually
Beth Morgan on her bike
Paul Bucknall working his way
up the field in the run
ended up swimming the last 750m of the
race on her own. This could have been a
blessing for the rest of the field since she
was suffering from a stomach bug, and
was sick twice. Coming out of the water
and onto the bike almost in last position
Abi then quickly started picking her way
up the field. She was not feeling great
on the bike and was sick again which
played havoc with her nutrition plan,
and as it was getting hotter, so drinking
was becoming more important. Out onto
the run Abi began to shine, clocking the
fastest run split of the 255 competitors and only being sick once! She finished in
7th place, and to have achieved that from
last place on the swim is an indication of
some impressive talent.
A few moments after the first ladies
were in the water Cpl Paul Bucknall (RAF
Benson) expressed his relief at the race
start, since it was getting ever-hotter, and
standing around in a black wetsuit is less
than desirable in the direct sun!
… “After getting into my rhythm I felt
quite comfortable on the swim, although
some poor sighting seemed to take me
the long way round towards some of
the buoys!” This feeling was echoed by
both Abi and Cpl Beth Morgan (RCDM
Birmingham) who nearly missed a huge
yellow buoy, hidden in the shade!
After a mile on the bike Paul was swiftly
reduced to 5 mph due to the first hill
climb. “The hill training had paid off and I
started to reel some of the other athletes
Fg Off Abi Bagshaw,
SAC Luke Pollard,
Cpl Paul Bucknall and
Cpl Beth Morgan celebrate
in my age group in over
the next few hills”.
The end of lap 1
meant cycling
passed all the
support in
which was
a great
motivator for
lap 2. “The
hills didn’t seem quite as bad
2nd time around!”….
The run caused a few
issues for Paul after
a really strong bike,
when coupled with
the heat of the day
meant the onset
of some vicious
cramps. After some
self-massage and
Abi Bagshaw
some stern words
and Beth
with himself, Paul
was back on his way.
“Coming down the
home straight with my
family and friends cheering
me on made the race, training
and effort all worthwhile”. Paul crossed the
line 16th in his Age group out of 55, which he
admitted was much better than he had ever
thought possible.
Last of the current RAF triathletes to enter
the water was Beth. By her own admission her
swim was not what she had hoped it to be, but
out on the bike Beth proved all the training was
working and began picking off competitors.
The bright orange mattresses the race
organisers had strapped to some of the trees
on the descents confirmed how dangerous
the descents were, causing a number of
ambulances to be required in Kitzbuhel! Beth
had a good T2 and was off on the run, putting
in a confident performance and finishing 9th.
Ex-RAF Athlete Bev Childs showed the
youngsters (and Nick) how to do it, producing a
commanding performance and picking up the
silver medal in her age group.
This was an incredible experience for all the
RAF athletes involved. A big thank you from all
the athletes to the Sports Lottery for their ongoing support. And of course to the friends and
family, who were dragged around Austria, had
to put up with the athlete tantrums, pre-race
nerves, post-race exhaustion, elation and every
emotion in between!
Edited by
Sqn Ldr Matt Tope
Trotting around the prestigious Hickstead arena, I tried to steady
my nerves. “Focus… “Breathe”… I reminded myself as I took a
last look at the fences spread before me. I took a deep breath and
asked Sid for ‘canter’…
Spidge Event Photography Haley clears the final hurdle for clear round finish…
Under the watchful eye of jumps instructor, Martyn Fowdrey
By Sgt Keeley Skinner
orse riding
has been my
for over 20
years, so I was
delighted to hear that I
could not only continue
my sport but the Royal Air
Force would encourage me
to do so. I have been eager
to get involved with the
RAF Equitation Association
(RAFEA) for many years but
felt I lacked a horse with the
required ability who could
show jump to a height of
However, in early June an
email dropped into my inbox
seeking riders to attend a
training camp to be selected
to represent the RAF at
Hickstead - an international
competition venue officially
titled the Royal Longines
International Horse Show
and a pretty big deal in the
horsey world! I often get
these emails but this time
the height of show jumping
required to attend was
85cms upwards; well within
the capability of my current
horse, Sidney (better known
as Sid; an 18-year old, 15
hands high, grey Welsh/
Arab breed that can turn his
hoof to anything!) Sid and I
have been a partnership for
the last four years. Ensuring
that I packed everything we
require for a week is not an
easy task and fortunately
I had the help of my good
friend Cpl Claire Scott (my
groom for the week!).
Horse in tow we set off on a
marathon journey from RAF
Boulmer in Northumberland
to East Sussex. Excited is not
the word!
Taking on the “Hickstead” planks…
Spidge Event Photography
We were met at Martyn
and Catherine Fowdreys’
“Equestrian Physiotherapy”
yard on Tuesday evening by
Wg Cdr Ruth Harris, Sqn
Ldr Haley Norris, Sgt Kathy
Froom and Cpl Andrea
Hazelwood. After settling
our horses, pitching tents
and transforming horse
boxes into hotel rooms we
were finally able to feed
ourselves and spend a happy
evening discussing horses,
riding abilities and what
we were hoping to achieve
throughout the week. Four
out of the five riders were
new to the RAFEA training
and had been invited as part
of the Development Squad.
The feeling was one of
excitement… giving way
to nerves. The training
consisted of two sessions per
day over the three days; we
were soon into the first one.
The 5 riders were divided
into two groups to allow
the instructor to tailor for
individual needs and ability.
When we weren’t riding we
were watching the other
group lesson - sometimes
watching other instructed
sessions can be as helpful
to a rider as actually being
As the week progressed
the training exercises
became more challenging;
each horse and rider
combination had something
to work on and found
different aspects individually
challenging. Sid for example
is very obedient, so riding
straight lines over fences and
stopping didn’t cause us any
issues; however big changes
in stride length proved to be
A clear round for Kathy
and Viz…
Haley prepares for battle as the
stakes, and jumps, are raised…
Haley and Archie
whizz around the
Hickstead arena
Spidge Event
difficult for him, a
relatively small horse with
small pony strides! As
always with horses there
were a couple of riders who
hit the sand but overall
we had a great week and
everyone achieved a great
deal as a result.
After the success of the
three days training, Sid and
I were selected to compete
as part of the Development
Squad. I was asked to jump
the 95cm course alongside
my other team members,
Sgt Kathy Froom and her
horse Diz jumping 85cm
and Sqn Ldr Haley Norris
entering the 1.05m round
on her new horse, Archie.
I was absolutely
delighted to be offered the
opportunity to represent
the RAFEA at Hickstead
and the atmosphere on the
day was incredible. I was
Kathy and Viz warming up in
the collecting ring (with a bit of
team help too!)
“We entered the
arena at a steady but
confident trot – I was
pinching myself in
disbelief that this was
really happening!”
The course complete;
in front of the
Hickstead crowds…
extremely busy sorting Sid;
feeding him, polishing tack
and generally trying to keep
a white horse immaculately
clean! I still managed to find
time to stick my head into
the international warm-up
arena to view the stars at
work…well….”maybe one
Before I knew it, it was
my turn to get ready. After
a swift tack-up and change
into my freshly pressed
Number One jacket, we
made our way to the warmup arena. The venue was
huge and buzzing with a
variety of horses from showponies to top show jumpers;
yes that is Shane Breen I can
see warming next to me….
be cool Keeley, be cool!
After a couple of practice
fences I am satisfied that
Sid is jumping well and it’s
time to move up to the main
Ruth Harris enjoying some grid work with Arietta...
The first team member to
jump was Sgt Kathy Froom
from MOD Corsham who
had a fabulous clear round
with her horse Diz – all the
while I was waiting on the
side-lines for my turn and
before I knew it, we were
next! We entered the arena
at a steady but confident
trot – I was pinching myself
in disbelief that this was
really happening! After a
last look at the fences, I ask
for canter and we began
the course. The first jump
goes well, as does the
second, third, fourth until
half way round and he’s
jumping well! I start to relax
but a momentary loss of
focus results in a refusal at
fence seven which results
in time faults giving the
team 13 faults going into
round three. Luckily, this
was the only fault that Sid
and I accrued. Sqn Ldr Haley
Norris was the final team
member to go; she rolled a
pole at the last fence leaving
the arena with another 4
faults. This took the RAFEA
teams total to 17 faults and
placed us 36th out of 111
teams; so not bad for our
first attempt at Hickstead!
I have since been asked
to represent the RAFEA
Development Squad
at a number of events
including the Royal Navy
Championships, RAF
Championships and the
Honourable Artillery
Company, Woolwich – I am
thoroughly enjoying the
opportunities and immense
challenges which come with
each event! Contrary to
common misconception, you
do not need to own your
own horse or be jumping
over 1.20m to get involved
with the RAFEA. There
are lots of other exciting
opportunities for all abilities
from beginners’ grassroots
and Inter-Station League
competitions right through
to intermediate riders with
the Development Squad and
Senior Squad.
To learn more about all
the RAFEA including training
and events on offer, please
take a look at the website,
MOSS site or new facebook
Edited by
SAC Alison Cartlidge
Keeley and Sid fly
into action…
submit your article at www.rafactive.co.uk
Located in the heart of the
New Zealand Polo scene
we offer Polo for beginners
and experienced players
alike, together with an
unforgettable Kiwi holiday
Chukkas, matches and tournaments at the famous
Waimai Club, plus farm chukkas, trekking and beach
rides. Holidays tailored to suit your requirements.
Reduced rates for early bookings for, Groups,
Schools, Universities and Polo Associations,
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Check us out at www.newzealandpoloholidays.co.nz or call
Ken Pitts – NZ +64 7 825 4535
Matt Pitts – UK 07721919465
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Email – [email protected]
Surf & SUP
School Lanzarote
Specialising in surf, SUP
courses and holidays, our
surf and SUP school is based
on the beautiful volcanic
island of Lanzarote
t: +34 636391549
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Flt Lt Rachael Lee [email protected]
With most of the winter months behind us its time to get back on track, and there are
plenty of pre-season training opportunities to get involved in. Or perhaps try something
new…? Details of these and many other events can be found on the relevant Association
pages of the RAF Sports Board website at: www.raf.mod.uk/rafsportsboard/associations
RAF Athletics
All personnel are invited to attend the RAF Athletics training events and
competitions. All standards welcome and quality coaching will be given to those
who desire it. Any questions please contact the Ladies TM (Sqn Ldr Jacqui Wilkinson)
or Mens TM (WO Frank Chapman) for more information.
RAF Cross Country Championships
RAF Halton
RAF Indoor Invitation Match T&F
Inter-Service XC Champs
Army to Host
Standards Competition and Training Day
RAF Cosford
Ireland vs RAF (Indoor competition)
Teddy Hall Road Relays
RAF Champs and Inter-Service Half Marathon Road
Fleet, Hants
Halton HillsXC
RAF Halton
Training DayT&F
RAF Cosford
Annual General Meeting
RAF Shawbury
RAF Outdoor Invitation - Life Time Vice-Presidents Cup T&F RAF Cosford
For more information on the RAFAA, please visit the website on http://www.raf.mod.uk/
RAF Canoeing
The RAF and Inter-Services Canoe Polo
Championships will take place at HMS Temeraire
on 6-8 Feb 15. Station clubs are invited to enter
teams into the RAF Championships, individuals
who do not have a Stn Club are welcome to
attend and will be entered into a regional team for
the RAF Championships. All players in the RAF Championships
will be considered for selection to represent the RAF in the
Inter-Services competition. Paddlers who have not played polo
before who are confident and can perform a capsize drill whilst
wearing a spraydeck are more than welcome to come along and
give canoe polo a go! Fri 6 Feb, will be a training day, followed
by the tournament over the weekend. Please visit our MOSS page,
website, Airspace Site or Facebook page for further information:
MOSS: http://cui5-uk.diif.r.mil.uk/r/354/Canoe/default.aspx
Website: http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafcanoeing/
Airspace site: https://airspace.raf.mod.uk/sports/rafca/index.cfm
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/10317189455/
(or search Royal Air Force Canoe Association)
RAF Hang Gliding and Paragliding
The RAFHPA event calendar is designed to help both novice and experienced
paraglider pilots alike get more from their free-flying. Whether experiencing their first
overseas visit or vying for the podium in international competitions, we have ensured
that there is something for all RAF personnel who have completed their Club Pilot
paragliding and/or hang gliding rating. In the first few months, besides regularly
training in the UK, we are going to Spain and Turkey! You’ve never had it so good!
Exercise GRANADA GLIDE 2015:
25 Mar -4 Apr 15.
A Joint Service paragliding adventure to Spain awaits!
15-22 Apr 15.
A Joint Service paragliding overseas visit to Olu Deniz in Turkey.
Exercise PEAK WINGS 2015:
20 Apr-1 May 15.
A Joint Service paragliding training camp in the Peak District designed to help
novice and experienced pilots alike get ready for the busy summer competition season!
Learn to fly for free. So, you want to join us? Of course you do, who wouldn’t?! And the best bit is...it’s
totally free to learn! In fact, you can learn through the Joint Services Adventurous Training Scheme (JSAT) all
whilst on duty! The Joint Services Paragliding Centre (JSPGC) in Crickhowell is running the following beginners
paragliding courses (hang gliding is no longer included in the JSAT Scheme and therefore no courses are part of
the programme). More details about these and other courses at www.raf.mod.uk/rafhpa/training or contact the
JSPGC on 01873 810386 / 94354 Ext 3260.
Course Dates
Bid By
1-6 Mar 15
16 Jan 15
PEP 29
8-13 Mar 15
23 Jan 15
PEP 30
15-20 Mar 15
30 Jan 15
PEP 31
6 Feb 15PEP 32
22-27 Mar 15
For any further information contact the RAFHPA Secretary on [email protected]
Power kiting is an exhilarating extreme
sport, and kitesurfing is currently the fastest
growing watersport across the globe. The
aim of the RPKA is to make Power Kiting
safely accessible to all, by providing FREE
internationally recognised instruction which will result in an
internationally recognised qualifications for those who attain
the requisite level of skill. The RPKA provides access to up to
date quality equipment and holds 9 fixtures annually across
the UK.
Power kiting is very physically demanding and therefore
promotes healthy living, physical fitness and stamina, with
an average days kiting being in the region of 4-6 hours.
Power kiting provides full cognitive engagement. Power
kiters have to manage momentum of themselves and the
board or buggy they are piloting, the kite which moves totally
independently and if kitesurfing, with the waves. It is the King
of Watersports!
Do you want to join our rapidly growing community and
learn to kitesurf, for FREE? Then please get in touch – there
is an annual Zero-to Hero 2 week camp attached to the RAF
Championships and training is conducted weekly at our
regional clubs. Check out our website at: http://www.raf.
Upcoming fixtures:
5-8 Feb
Xmas Ball Fixture
12-15 Mar
Spring Competition
18 Apr - May
RAF Powerkiting ChampsAll
submit your article at www.rafactive.co.uk
RAF Pembrey
RAF Pembrey
RAF Orienteering
Orienteering caters for all levels from Elite International runners, to
those who follow a piece of string. You can run or walk, courses are matched to
skill level. Coaching is available from British Orienteering trained coaches. There
is also an opportunity to take part in the RAFO Tour which this year is going to
Ace of HertsBeaconsfield
Southern Champs Sprint Event (UKOL 1)
Southern Championships Long (UKOL2)
Midlands ChampionshipsCannock
YHOA SuperleagueHuddersfield
TVOC Chiltern Challenge Regional Event Level B
High Wycombe
British Night Championships Weekend (UKOL 3 & 4) Barnsley
Sarum SaunterSalisbury
CLOK Acorn EventWhitby
22-Mar South East League and Long Championships
EBOR B eventPickering
22-Mar OD Level B Event Bentley Wood
29-Mar YHOA Middle Championships
03-Apr JK Weekend Sprint (UKOL 5) Lancaster/Ulverston/Windermere
18-Apr British Long Distance & Relay Orienteering Championships (UKOL 8) Forest of Dean
For further information on events or membership contact [email protected] or go to the website
at http://www.raf.mod.uk/raforienteering/
RAFOS is a volunteer organisation that was formed in 1965. RAFOS
members are keen conservationists and bird watchers, most of whom are serving or
have served in the Royal Air Force. The problem now presenting itself to RAFOS is
that we have far too little ‘young blood’ especially among the serving population who
are all clearly very busy people.
RAFOS run a programme of field trips each year, and in 2014 visited Scotland, Norfolk, Dorset,
Spain and Ascension Island with an equally diverse menu of expeditions being planned for 2015.
These trips are fantastic opportunities to improve knowledge, pass on experiences and simply enjoy
and appreciate the Natural History around us. The atmosphere on these trips reflects the typical
comradeship of the RAF with as much humour as serious birding.
Do not be concerned if your interest is currently limited to feeding garden birds or watching
Springwatch on the BBC. We are not looking for experts or specialists (although they would also
be most welcome) – we are looking for personnel with a general interest in birds. No experience or
knowledge is necessary, just enthusiasm and a willingness to be a part of the Society. If you have
even the smallest interest in birding, please have a look at the RAFOS website at www.RAFOS.
org.net or find the ‘Royal Air Force Ornithological Society’ group on Facebook and Twitter (@
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the RAFOS Publicity Member
FS Scott Drinkel on 95235 7810 or 01256 367810,
Or by email on [email protected] or [email protected]
submit your article at www.rafactive.co.uk
To open the 21st year of the RAF Waveriders, the
first event will be the Annual “Ice Breaker”. This February
meet is the ideal opportunity to wash away the excesses
of the festive period and receive some video coaching
from the centre manager. Don’t worry about the cold
conditions during the February and March meets, the
Waveriders Centre of Excellence is well stocked with all
the equipment needed to keep you toasty!
In April we will be holding our AGM, all members are
encouraged to attend to ensure maximum benefit to the
association. The annual Tri-Services Surf Champs will be
held in Cornwall during the April meet, and following the
performances during the RAF Champs we are sure to reclaim our trophy!
Applications for meets can now be submitted on the RAF Waveriders
MOSS page and through Airspace. Applications are now being
accepted for the popular beginners’ weeks, which are held in
June and July, so apply early to avoid disappointment.
As always the RAF Waveriders Centre of Excellence, based at
RAF St Mawgan, is available for use by all stations for sports,
Force Development or Adventurous Training. Information on
the facilities available and booking the centre can be found
on the RAF Surfing website: www.raf.mod.uk/rafsurfing/
Meet 1 - 2nd - 7th February 15
Meet 2 - 9th - 14th March 15
Meet 3 - 13th - 18th Apr 15 - AGM and Tri-Services
The first RAF run level 5 sports massage course will take
place this year. The learning provider will be the London
School of Sports Massage (www.LSSM.com) and it will
be significantly discounted compared to their normal cost.
Provided you are involved with RAF sport you should be
eligible for SLC and ELC and the training has been priced to
maximise the use of these. The training is a big commitment
with 10-12 residential weekends, 4 written papers, 2 case
studies, 100 hours of logged practical experience and a final
written and practical exam so should not be undertaken lightly.
If you have no previous experience you will need to
attend an introduction weekend. Both courses are on the
RAF approved sports coaches and officials courses. For further
details contact: CRN-OACTU-CSqn-BFltCdr (Pepper, Alun Flt Lt)”
After a very successful 2014, the RAF Mountaineering Association
continues its UK programme of meets. Our meets can include walking,
scrambling, climbing and fell running. Regardless of your ability, rank, age
or ambition, there is something for everyone. Not only can we guarantee
that you will have a great time and meet some great friends but gain
valuable experience with opportunities to take part in the many expeditions
planned over the next few years. As usual more details of RAFMA meets can be found
on the forum (if you are a member already) or you can join RAFMA via the website, click
on the administration tab at http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafmountaineering or find us on
Facebook RAFMA. Please direct general RAFMA questions to [email protected]
or [email protected]
Dates for your diary:
6-8 Feb North Wales
7 -15 Mar Scotland, winter week (application required)
27-29 Mar Lake District
loads of good ca
“Easy to eat and
record holder
Steve Way, GB 100K
Protein bar
and Nut Butters
just launched
Spend £10 and get 10% off with code RAF10
Spend £25 and get 20% off with code RAF20
By Fg Off Mark Wecki
When I mentioned that I was training with RAF snowboard squad for 2 weeks
in Austria, I’m sure everyone thought I was skiving on a 2 week luxurious
holiday in the mountains with spas and plenty of Après (the after party
in some typically European bar where everyone is dressed in Lederhosen
drinking from large tankards). I am sure this is what the RAF Snowboard
squad would love it to be but the reality is somewhat different.
The journey out there
speculate about a possible
was the first step
lack of snow.
that dispelled
Kaprun is part of
this perception.
Kitzsteinhorn in
The 16 hour
Zell am See which
minibus journey
is the resort
was far from
where we did
luxurious. The
our training.
only thing that
Upon arrival
kept us going
for our first day
was the lure
Tweaking out a method grab.
of some good
Photo Andy Amphlett
snowboarding. Finally
a clear blue sky and
we got to a point on
temperatures of 5 degrees
the journey where the horizon
Celsius; warm in terms of winter
was no longer flat and straight but
sports, making it a great day for a
broken by mountainous regions
goggle tan and viewing the routes
and we knew our destination was
around the mountain. Travelling
coming ever closer. This year felt as
this early in the winter requires
if it was still spring with greenery
the choice of resort to be carefully
everywhere. After the horrendous
selected. Kitzsteinhorn is a glacial
journey though, we didn’t dare
resort where snow is pretty much
‘‘Finally we got to a
44 point on the journey
where the horizon
was no longer flat and
straight but broken
by mountainous
regions and we knew
our destination was
coming ever closer.…’’
guaranteed at the top so on the lift
up we just hoped that this was true.
Luckily it was and the snow and
weather was perfect for training.
The temperatures also fell through
the 2 weeks, giving us some
optimism that snow would arrive in
the surrounding resorts ready for
the RAF Championships by January.
The squad of 20 riders on the
camp consisted of people with
a wide variety of snowboarding
backgrounds, from those who
were self taught, those who have
completed instructor courses
to those who have only been
snowboarding a year or so. With
our two coaches, Lewis Sonvinco
and Alex Brady, the team were
put through their paces. No
matter what the snowboarding
background, fatigue is fatigue.
Big Air. Photo
Andy Amphlett
Hours on end are spent on specific
drills, working on riding position
and turn control, all in the aim of
improving overall riding control.
When we returned to the chalet
each night, all we wanted to do
was collapse on our beds in the
gear we had been riding in all day;
that’s a clear sign you know you
have forced the body and muscles
to perform movements that they
are not accustomed to. That said,
everyone was improving on a daily
basis and the encouragement
between fellow riders was
Freestyle snowboarding has
really been helped by the indoor
snowboarding scene found at
snow domes located around
the UK. These domes enable
the squad to train and practice
all year round, although, due
to the size of these domes, the
freestyle element focuses more on
riding rails and obstacles rather
than big jumps. This is where
Winter Camp comes to its own,
Main photograph: Nose Grab. Photo Andy Amphlett
Mid backflip.
Photo Andy Amphlett
allowing the squad to practice
on kickers (jumps) equivalent to
the size found at the RAF and
Inter Service Championships. This
year everyone’s freestyle ability
increased significantly, with a lot
of inverted tricks (upside down),
spins and big airs being thrown by
everyone. The intelligent layout of
Our training ground - the park. Photo Andy Amphlett
the park meant that we could try
things on the smaller kickers before
taking them to the bigger ones
too. With all of the progress being
made, we were fortunate to have
only one injury, Flt Lt Si Abra, with
torn shoulder ligaments, although
this quickly promoted him to team
cameraman, which gave us some
hugely valuable feedback.
Publicity of snowboarding has
increased significantly with the
inclusion of half-pipe, slopestyle
and boarder-X into the winter
Olympics. For a sport that,
approximately 20 years ago, was
banned in most ski resorts it has
not done too badly for itself. Squad
members take part Slopestyle,
Boarder-X and Parallel Giant Slalom
(PGS). Winter camp provides the
opportunity for the squad to
develop their skills in all of 3 these
disciplines which we hope to take
forward to RAF Champs. The team
will then go forward to complete
at the Interservices in Meribel,
France. Hopefully Winter Camp has
prepared the squad give the RAF
a fighting chance of winning the
Interservices in 2015.
During the two weeks squad
members had time to experience
the Austrian culture. An experience
not easily forgotten is that of the
Krampus Rummel festival. (Google
it!) This festival involves local
villagers dressing up as groups of
‘Krampus’; beast-like creatures from
the folklore of Alpine countries
scaring local children. Around
Christmas time, children are told
that if they misbehave they will
be taken away by the Krampus.
An event that would most likely
Krampus. Photo Jen Smith
Admiring the slopes. Photo Luke Shaw
not be allowed to go ahead in
the UK because the Krampus
roam around, whipping innocent
individuals in their path with a
bundle of birch sticks. Some of
us still had the whip marks on
our legs the next day to prove it.
The more you reacted, the worse
it got! Thankfully, we could still
snowboard the next day!
Plans are already afoot for
this summer too; the team
plan to improve techniques by
skateboarding and snowtramp
(trampolining with a foam board
to practice grabs and spins in a
controlled environment). Watch
out in the next editions for
an update on how successful/
disastrous they are!
If you are interested in
Snowboarding for the RAF please
get in contact with the team
through the RAF Snowboard
Facebook Page or just follow their
progress throughout the next
few months on the same page.
Alternatively, please contact Sqn
Ldr Nikki Duncan (RAF Snowboard
Team Manager) through email
CON-SSS-OC or phone 95271 7207.
Each Station should have a rep that
can also give you an idea of the
training available and standards
Edited by Sqn Ldr Claire Collis
Publicity of snowboarding has increased significantly
with the inclusion of half-pipe, slopestyle and
boarder-X into the winter Olympics. For a sport that,
approximately 20 years ago, was banned in most ski
resorts it has not done too badly for itself…
Panoramic shot of Kaprun. Photo Luke Shaw
By Example
we Lead
Memories of a Military Policeman 1958 -1980
Brian F Samways
he book follows the author’s twenty two
year career from a young uniformed military
policeman to a warrant officer class 1 of the
Special Investigation Branch, going behind the scenes
of cases and enquiries carried out in many exotic
destinations around the globe, as well the European
theatre of operations. The author also sets out to portray
forces family life during that era from courtship to
retirement, illustrating the trials and tribulations couples
have to endure by being constantly on the move and
separation during active service.
148 pages, perfect bound with a gloss cover, well
illustrated with eight pages of colour photographs.
Book size: 148mm x 210mm
ISBN: 978-0-95744725-3-1
Price: £7.99 including postage and packing
Please purchase direct from the author:
Brian F Samways, 108 Alder Rod, Poole, Dorset
BH12 4AB
Tel: 07831 338799
Cheques made payable to B F Samways
‘Exemplo Ducemus’
The motto of the Corps of Royal Military Police
By Flt Lt Emile Syrimis
When an email pinged in my inbox advertising ‘touch rugby’,
I was more than a little curious…
I had played the 7, 13 and 15 a-side Rugby codes and my
favourite part of any rugby training session was always the
speed and agility elements which don’t necessarily involve
the painful bits of being tackled - this always ends up hurting
more in training than in actual matches!
According to the Rugby Football Union’s website, Touch
Rugby promotes fitness, fun and friendship using rugby as
the tool. So, I went along to see what was going on. There,
Sqn Ldr Dave Carey gave me the low down; ‘It’s Rugby 7’s
without contact; the emphasis is on skills, teamwork and
“Awesome”, I thought. I’m reasonably fit, and I’d like to
think I have a little bit of skill throwing a rugby ball about.
An hour later, my illusions were shattered! Touch rugby is all
that Dave said it would be, and more. As a game, it forces
you to think at least 3 steps ahead of actually receiving the
ball, and when you do finally get it, you work very, very hard
at not getting ‘touched’.
The variant plays like a mix between Rugby 7’s and Rugby
League. There are 6 players per side and the game utilises
half a conventional pitch. Normal game duration is 40
minutes (each half is 20 minutes) with a one minute break.
The goal is to out-score your opponent and like Rugby
League, you have 6 attempts to do this before the ball is
turned over to your opposition. Every time you’re touched,
you have to play the ball Rugby League style (placing the ball
on the ground and stepping over it).
‘Simple’, I hear you say; I said the same thing. However,
you can’t kick the ball as that’s a turn over. If you’re first
receiver and you’re caught, that’s a turn over. Touch and
pass (being touched and then passing it out of the tackle)
is another turnover. As the defending side, not retreating
5 metres is a turnover (as you’re offside and therefore may
have an unfair advantage)… Basically, any mistake skill-wise
or rule-wise leads to a turnover. And believe me, after a
few minutes of frantic running and passing, any turnover is
The game’s main emphasis is on teamwork and getting
people to think ahead rather than play what’s in front of
you. But the best part about the game is everyone can play!
Each session on this day had a nice mix of players, ex-players,
total novices (to rugby in general), old, young, males and
As a game, it forces you to think
at least 3 steps ahead of actually
receiving the ball, and when you do
finally get it, you work very, very hard
at not getting ‘touched’…
females with varying abilities and fitness. Because of the
non-contact nature of the sport and the limited amount of
playing space, everyone is more or less on a ‘level playing
If you’re not naturally fit, but want to build up your fitness,
endurance and hand-eye co-ordination while playing a team
sport, then this game is for you. If you just want a decent
run out and a laugh then this game is most definitely for
Touch Rugby is also a great way of playing yourself back
into the full fat version of the game with a reduced threat of
serious injury if, like me, you’ve been out of it a while. The
lines you run, the skills you need in passing, drawing the
defender and creating overlaps are still needed.
As I mentioned earlier, the game is sanctioned by both
the Rugby Football Union and the RAF Rugby Union; and
is sponsored by O2 which provides balls, coaches, referees
and other bits of kit. It even has its own league system, with
competitions all over the country in and around most cities
and large towns including Oxford, Manchester, and Bath
(The RFU intends to roll this scheme out across the country).
All you need is sports kit including a good pair of trainers/
football/rugby boots, as well as a willingness to get involved!
For more information, you can contact the RAFRU O2
Touch coordinator Rob Phair on 95237 6623. Alternatively
you can approach your stn PEd Flt, Rugby Club or go to the
RFU’s O2 Touch website – o2touch.rfu.com
In the past six months the regular
Central Band rowing sessions at the
Water Sports Centre at Danesfield
have attracted ten new rowers. With organiser Chf Tech Dave Cox
possessing an unequalled enthusiasm
and passion for the sport, plus a
very apt name, this is no surprise. When Dave announced that he
would be organising another rowing
expedition this summer the Band
jumped at the chance to undertake
some personal development and
spend three days on the river.
Photo: Jonathan Gawn
The team starts to get it together
by Jonathan Gawn
With most of the crews for
Thames Endurance being
relative beginners, including
a few who had never rowed
before, Dave organised two
full days of training prior to
the event. This gave us the
chance to develop our sculling
technique and ensure that we
would have the required skill
level to get us up the river past
Goring Gap and back safely.
On the first morning of
Thames Endurance we arrived
at the boathouse at Danesfield
to get the kit ready for the
next three days. This included
preparing our two coxed quad
touring sculls and a launch. With the sun overhead and
the Thames water glistening
we employed our questionable
sculling techniques and set off,
heading upriver for the first
part of our journey. We would
be travelling 30 km each day
and for the first 45km would
be rowing upstream, against
the flow of the river. After the
first few hours it was clear that
this was not going to be easy.
As we rowed upstream we
received constant coaching from
Dave, Sgt Paul Phelan and Sgt
Heather Andrews and as the day
progressed it was great to see
everyone become more confident
and cohesive as the boat start to
run and we established a decent
sculling technique. We stopped for
lunch at what I presume is Britain’s
only ‘row-up’ Tesco where we also
picked up barbecue supplies for
later. After some food and a break
we jumped back into the sculls
for what was to be the hardest
part of our journey. The final leg
on the first day was the longest
uninterrupted stretch of river and
with the automatic locks stopping
at 1700 we had to make good
time. Thankfully we made the
last lock and it wasn’t long before
we had the tents up, barbecue
smoking and were enjoying an
refreshing pint of Rebellion beer
and talking about our first day of
adventure on the river.
That evening we had our own
silence to join with the rest of the
UK in remembering the 100th
anniversary of the outbreak of the
Morning on the Thames
‘‘We would be travelling 30 km each day and
for the first 45km would be rowing upstream,
against the flow of the river. ’’
First World War. This was an incredibly
poignant moment standing by the
moonlit river, tea candles in hand,
with the shadows from the trees over
the Thames and the music of John
Williams’ Hymn to the Fallen in the
background. I’m sure this
is a moment we will all
remember for many years
to come.
The next morning after
some much needed sleep
and a hearty breakfast we were off
again, rowing a further 15km upstream
past Goring Gap. Having never
rowed this part of the river before
we were unaware that we wouldn’t
be able to find a suitable place to get
the boats out of the water or indeed
get ourselves out of the boats. This
resulted in a real test of our bladders as
we realised that we would have to turn
back to the last boat club we passed to
get out of the sculls. This was perhaps
the quickest 8km the team covered!!
All too quickly it was the last
morning and we were back at Goring
Gap getting the boats in the water
for the 30km row back to Danesfield. Thankfully on the way back we had
the flow of the river working with us
towards the club and with our everimproving technique this was perhaps
the most pleasant day’s rowing. We
made excellent time, even managing to
stop off for a pub lunch before getting
back to Danesfield, washing down
the boats and getting ourselves back
to Northolt to prepare for the Guard
of Honour rehearsal in Edinburgh the
following day.
Over what was a very challenging
and enjoyable three-day expedition we
undoubtedly all vastly improved our
rowing techniques. By the last day
both crews were working together,
with both boats ‘running’ well. The
only question being asked on the way
home was ‘Where are we off to next
If you are interested in rowing
within the RAF, visit the website at:
www.raf.mod.uk/rowing or contact:
mailto:[email protected]
Edited by Sqn Ldr Matt Tope
submit your article at www.rafactive.co.uk
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