WATCH: Discoverer sets sail ahead of '˜epic adventure'

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Friday, 29th September 2017, 6:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 3:48 pm
Crew members on board the Dicoverer Picture : Habibur Rahman

But yesterday afternoon, a crew of 15 set sail from Haslar Marina on board the Challenger class vessel Discoverer for Exercise Pacific Longbow – a 24,395 mile sailing expedition across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Divided into 12 legs, a new crew will take the helm for each stage of the journey, with a total of 180 soldiers taking part in the exercise.

More than half the crew is made up of complete sailing novices.

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Crew members on board the Dicoverer Picture : Habibur Rahman

To compensate, the British Army has paired them with soldiers who have experience with life at sea.

One of those men is Staff Sergeant Al Smith, from Gosport.

He said: ‘I saw this as an opportunity to do something a bit different.

‘This will be challenging but it will also be fun – I’ve done a fair bit of sailing before but nothing quite like this.

The crew on board Discoverer prior to setting off from Haslar Marina

‘It started off as a bit of a hobby and now here we are at the start line – we are all just really keen to get going.

‘We’ve done a lot of preparation and have had plenty of time to bond together – this is a good crew and I think this will be a major success.’

WO Craig Weston from the Isle of Wight said: ‘I came into sailing fairly late because it presents an interesting challenge.

‘We have a great skipper and I’m looking forward to learning from her.

Crew members on board the Dicoverer Picture : Habibur Rahman

‘I can’t wait to get going, the sooner we set sail the better. I have sailed in the Solent before but it will be nice to be pushed out of my comfort zone.’

Skipper Becky Walford said: ‘there’s always a lump in the throat as you start but we are absolutely raring to go.

‘We have been getting ready for a couple of days – this is an epic adventure and is a big deal for the army.

‘A lot of these guys have not been sailing before but they are all excited for the off.’

The crew on board Discoverer prior to setting off from Haslar Marina

After setting sail at 12pm, the crew raised their sails in Portsmouth Harbour and starting their journey to Lanzarote.

The vessel is expected to return on September 10, 2018.