Afghanistan veteran braves the waves in record round the world bid


When Daisy Coleman was forced to leave the Army after being injured while serving in Afghanistan you might have imagined she would have found something less dangerous to do.

Far from it. The 29-year-old is about to embark on an attempt to break the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat.

Ms Coleman and her fellow Team Britannia crew members will spend around two months battling though the high seas, braving storms and miles of empty ocean, as they attempt to complete the 23,000 mile voyage in record time.

The challenge is so arduous it has only been attempted three times.

Making the attempt even more impressive is the fact that, like Ms Coleman, nearly half of the Team Britannia’s 12-strong crew will be wounded veterans who have suffered life changing injuries serving their country, including amputations.

Ms Coleman was forced to leave the Royal Artillery in 2013 after suffering a severe shoulder injury while serving in Afghanistan. She had been in the Army since 2004, having joined up shortly after turning 18, and – after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan – suddenly felt her purpose in life had been taken from her.

All I’d done since leaving school was the military and when I was medically discharged it was as if the carpet had been pulled out from underneath me, she told The Telegraph. My confidence took a huge knock.

But a recommendation from a military rehabilitation charity led to Ms Coleman taking up power boat racing and she quickly began making a name for herself in the sport.

As a child I’d never had anything to do with the water. I was totally into horse riding. So when I started the powerboat training course they used to make fun of me for not knowing my port from by starboard, she said.

But I showed them all I could do it and through the sport I’ve started getting my confidence back.

It was this drive to rebuild her life that led Ms Coleman, from Pembrokeshire, to sign up for the Team Britannia challenge and the dangers and hardship it will entail.

Team Britannia’s skipper, Alan Priddy, said: Daisy is one of the crew’s most experienced powerboaters. Her impressive P1 race career means she knows exactly what to expect, physically and mentally – she is definitely a great asset to the team.

The attempt to set a new record for circumnavigating the globe has a fraught history.

In 2008 the New Zealand conservationist Pete Bethune broke the previous record by circumnavigating the globe in 60 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes in a biodiesel powered trimaran.

During the trip he was attacked by pirates off Nicaragua, briefly imprisoned in Guatemala and almost sunk after crashing into floating logs off Borneo.

A previous attempt to break the record, in 2001, ended in failure.

Ms Coleman is hoping for better luck.

It’s not going to be a walk in the park, she said. It’s going to be really tough. But we are going to rise to it. There’s always an element of danger involved. If there wasn’t everybody would be doing it.

Team Britannia are hoping to break the current record by as much as 10 days, thanks in part to the groundbreaking design of their boat, the Excalibur.

The design of its marine grade aluminium hull will reduce fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent, cutting down not only on pollution, but crucially, on time consuming refuelling stops.

Fitted with two Fiat six cylinder engines, each one generating 500 brake horse power (BHP), Excalibur will hit top speeds of 50mph.

The boat, to be powered by a mixture of diesel, water and emulsifier designed to burn more efficiently and produce fewer harmful emissions, is currently under construction on Hayling Island, near Portsmouth.

Team Britannia will set off from Gibraltar on October 23, its route taking it through the Suez and Panama canals and across both the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, stopping to take on fuel at Puerto Rico, Acapulco, Honolulu, Guam, Singapore, Oman and Malta.

Waving them off will be family and friends, including Ms Coleman’s parents and her brother Sam, with whom she races P1 powerboats.

Mr Priddy, who started sailing at the age of eight and in 2003 set the record for crossing the Atlantic in a rigid hulled inflatable, with a crossing of 103 hours, knows the dangers his crew will face.

This is no pleasure cruise and there are no passengers on board. We will be sailing in all sea states, smashing through the waves on a 23,000 mile voyage in what is a floating fuel tank, he said. 

While this is going to be challenging for all the crew, it might throw up some particular problems for our wounded and injured vets. We will draw on the incredible ‘can do’ spirit of our amazing armed forces, which we will need to break one of sport’s most challenging world records.

News Source TelegraphNews

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