Race Support Vessel Refuels at Sea with the Help of the Australian Navy
Although the three, Fours class boats and the out of class eight man speed crew at the front of the fleet are now moving into the final stages of the race, the two Pairs Class boats at the back of the fleet are a good 600 nautical miles behind the rest.
Having spent more than 50 days at sea supporting the racing fleet and going to the aid of any team that requests assistance, the Race Support Vessel began to run low on fuel last week. This posed a dilemma for Race HQ – knowing that the race support vessel had limited fuel and needed to go in to port with some urgency to refuel but not wanting to leave the fleet unattended for any length of time.
Woodvale Challenge takes the safety of all the competitors taking part in its races very seriously, so with some lateral thinking and help from RCC Canberra and the Australian Navy, this problem was solved by refueling the Race Support Vessel at sea.
At 0700 GMT on Friday 12 June, the Australian Navy ship ‘HMAS Toowoomba’ rendezvoused with the Race Support Vessel in the middle of the Indian Ocean. After making VHF contact, a RIB tender with six of HMAS Toowoomba’s crew onboard made the short trip over to the Race Support Vessel together with 20 litre jerry cans full of fuel.
Whilst on station close by to the Race Support Vessel, the ships doctor onboard the HMAS Toowoomba checked over Simon Prior and gave him a clean bill of health with recommendations to rest and eat a normal diet.
After four hours, the crew onboard the Race Support Vessel said their goodbyes to the crew of the HMAS Toowoomba and watched her disappear into the distance as quickly as she appeared.
Woodvale Challenge Ltd would like to thank Commander Ivan Ingham and the crew aboard HMAS Toowoomba, the Australian Navy and RCC Canberra for all their help, professionalism and hospitality in refueling the Race Support Vessel at sea and enabling the uninterrupted support of the rowing boats competing in the Indian Ocean Rowing Race 2009.