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BRNC win this year’s Beacon Challenge

14 July 2016
A team from Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) was the winners of this year’s Beacons Challenge adventure.

In total 15 teams from across the Naval Service signed up to take part in the annual two-day challenge, held in the Brecon Beacons. 

The event is a race against the clock consisting of a 25 kilometre (km) mountain walk, 30 km bike phase and a 500 metre kayak.  Each team is made up of four people.

Representing BRNC were Warrant Officer 1 (WO1) Andy Holmes, team Captain, and Lieutenants Aidan Pinder, Al Hall and Chris Matthews.  All four are instructors at the Royal Naval Leadership Academy.

We are hoping to go back next year and defend our title.

LPT Christopher Quinn

WO1 Holmes said:  “Personally I like a challenge and to challenge myself.  I’d heard about this event, but I’d been unable to enter before. 

“The other guys were willing volunteers to push themselves and we went there hoping to do well, but not necessarily expecting to win. 

“The weather on the first day was quite challenging.  It was muggy, overcast and visibility was limited. 

“The mountain biking was fun, with some really challenging sections.  Overall it was a really well organised event, so credit to LPT Christopher Quinn, the organiser. 

“We are hoping to go back next year and defend our title.”

The event aims to build on the ethos of team-building and engender a good team spirit. 

The different elements of the challenge mean that individuals can either play on their strengths or move outside of their comfort zone to contribute to the overall team effort.

Second place this year went to the Commando Logistics Regiment, who were followed by the Royal Marines team from RNAS Yeovilton and then the Air Station’s Royal Navy team. 

Others taking part included two teams from Navy Command Headquarters, the London University Royal Navy Unit, HMS Collingwood, HMS Talent and two teams from HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Raleigh. 

WO 1 ‘Frank’ Spencer, a divisional training officer at HMS Raleigh, said:  “I took part in the Beacons challenge last year and enjoyed it so much I thought I have to do it again, so I managed to scrape together a team from the Submarine School. 

“The other Raleigh team consisted of two PTI’s, another member of staff from the Submarine School and a phase two trainee.  

“Each team sets off at five minute intervals and the walk took us over the Brecon Beacons and up Pen y Fan.  It took between four and eight hours, it rained for five of them - that fine mist rain somewhere between a T shirt and a light coat. 

“The mountain bike race on day two is hilly, rocky and muddy. Speeds of over 40 mph can be achieved on the downhill road section and approximately half way around the course is the Kayak section. Day two took place in glorious sunshine.  The Raleigh teams finished in eighth and ninth place.”

The challenge was organised for the sixth year by the Royal Naval Leadership Academy (RNLA) Outdoor Leadership Training Centre (OLTC).

Prizes were presented at the end of the challenge by the Chaplain of the Fleet, The Venerable Ian Wheatley.

Event organiser LPT Christopher Quinn said:  “There was a great mix of abilities taking part this year, which made it all the more enjoyable. 

“Some were athletes who took it more seriously, while others were guys who just wanted to use it for a bit of team-building and a social exercise.  The blend was awesome and everyone had a great time.”

The OLTC is located at Talybont on Usk in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales and trains in excess of 3,900 Naval personnel annually, the majority of which are phase two Able Rates and Junior Officers.

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