THEY’ve fought in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now a group of injured male and female veterans have been selected to join a powerboat team on a voyage around the world that could see a new record brought back to the Solent region.
It’s a phenomenal opportunity. I also race P1 powerboats and this is a great chance to add more strings to my bowDaisy Coleman
And yesterday those chosen for Team Britannia’s challenge – led by Portsmouth ocean racing legend Alan Priddy – were put through their paces as they got stuck into a training course to boost their maritime skills.
They got out in the River Itchen off the University of Southampton’s Watersports Centre to learn how to navigate, handle a boat, boost their seamanship skills and understand buoys.
The two-day exercise is being paid for by the university.
The preparation comes ahead of Team Britannia’s departure from Gibraltar on the 23,000-mile trip next month.
They will take in the sights of Puerto Rico, Manzanillo, Panaluu, Guam, Singapore, Salalah, Malta via Suez Canal before finishing back in Gibraltar.
They aim to beat the time set by New Zealander Peter Bethune – 60 days, 23hrs and 49mins.
Daisy Coleman, a bombardier in the British Army before she was medically discharged, said: ‘It’s a phenomenal opportunity.
‘I also race P1 powerboats and this is a great chance to add more strings to my bow.
‘I am a navigator by trade, but this is a completely different kettle of fish.
‘It will be great to expand my horizons and challenge myself.’
Army veteran John Sandford-Hart, who lost his leg in a powerboat accident in 2002, said he’s relishing the challenge.
He said: ‘My sister died 25 years ago, so I said I would do 10 London marathons and break 10 records. So this means a lot personally, and it’s bringing together all of the injured guys and given them a new lease of life. It’s great.’
Mr Priddy said he was inspired to bring injured veterans on board after seeing the Weeping Window poppy attraction in London which paid tribute to those who died in the First World War. This, he said, made him want to involve modern veterans.
He said: ‘These guys and girls have not been together before. They’ve had careers crawling on their bellies through sand, and now we’re giving them the opportunity to do something great out on the water.’