This year marks the 22nd time the Navy’s three 40-foot training sloops will be tackling October’s iconic PIC Coastal Classic.

Since their launch in 1990 the three vessels have sailed a combined distance of 200,000 nautical miles and trained over 15,000 Defence Force personnel.

The Navy’s primary purpose for the participating in the race is supporting the leadership development of navy personnel by providing a challenging and realistic maritime environment for leaders at all levels to be pushed out of their comfort zone.

For this year’s event the three yachts (sailing in the Rally division) will be crewed by the Navy’s newest recruits who will be in their sixth week of basic training. This will be their first experience aboard a naval vessel – and for many the first time they have ever been aboard a yacht.

Each yacht carries eight recruits along with two Navy sailing instructors who act as Skipper and Mate. In addition to providing technical instruction the skipper facilitates self-reflection and peer feedback sessions aboard the yachts to encourage discussion around leadership behaviours observed within the group.

All of the challenges that arise aboard during the race are real. The yachts are intentionally set up with high-labour manual systems to encourage teamwork and get people out of their comfort zones. Not a roller furler or electric winch in sight. Even simple tasks such as cooking a meal for eight in a galley the size of the telephone booth provides opportunities for growth!