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Flying Start with Team RN and CO Cdr Al Haig
Cdr Al Haig warming up the Tandem with WO2 Mark Plummer
WO2 Mark Plummer and Lt Kevin Westbrook
Royal Naval Cyclists, Stanchester School and Cdr Al Haig
Royal Naval Cyclists and Cdr Al Haig
815 NAS
Members of 815

Navy pedal power for Sport Relief

Published: 19 Mar 2014

In support of the nations Sport Relief fund raising effort, Sailors from 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) attempted to beat the distance one of their own Lynx Helicopters can cover in 4 hours. 

20 members from 815 NAS, based at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton were started by their Commanding Officer, Commander (Cdr) Al Haig who waved off the cyclists on the 4 hour challenge at RNAS Merryfield., in very heavy fog! 

Hoping to double the effort were Warrant Officer (WO2) Mark Plummer, one of the event organisers and Lieutenant (Lt) Kevin Westbrook on their tandem, but not until the CO had himself tested the dual seated bicycle! 

The first team got off to a ‘flying start’ to see who would cover the greatest distance and were joined by Pupils from Stanchester Academy , themselves cycling as part of their own triathlon event for Sport Relief. 

Cdr Al Haig said “It’s great to see the young people of Stanchester Academy joining the Royal Navy to raise funds for Sport Relief which is such a worthy cause”. 

Although the Lynx Mk8, as a derivative of the official world record holder for the fastest helicopter, might be expected to win hands down in this race, the cyclists grouped together in a show of sporting team work to see if they could cover more miles cumulatively in the 4 hour period than a single Lynx Helicopter can fly in the same time. 

Depending on wind, weather (extreme fog in this instance) and other circumstances such as planning assumptions you might expect a Lynx Mk8 Maritime Attack Helicopter to cover around 480 – 500 miles in a sustained 4 hour period. To stand a chance of covering the same ground in the same time, the cyclists, working in groups of 10, needed to maintain an average speed of 15 mph to beat the helicopter perceived distance during this time. 

815 NAS pedal power was awesome as after 4 hours in the saddle they completed an astonishing 1060 miles! Twice the distance that the worlds fastest helicopter could hope to achieve! 

Lt Cdr Joe Dransfield crossing the line as part of this tremendous wave of Royal Naval leg power said “I am absolutely shattered but elated at the same time. It’s been extremely challenging but everybody has mucked in to make a tough task fun and for such a commendable cause. We have raised £1060 so far and it would be fantastic to end with a £1 for each mile cycled. I am delighted that pupils of Stanchester were able to join us, chasing us around the airfield as part of their magnificent effort for Sport Relief”. 

Pupils from Stanchester School, Stoke sub Hamdon, cycled alongside the cyclists from 815 Squadron throughout the day at RNAS Merryfield, as they competed part of their own Sport Relief triathlon Challenge to combine a Cycle, Swim and Walk the equivalent distance from Lands End to John O Groats of 848 miles. The pupils were so successful, encouraged and inspired along the way by 815 NAS that they achieved the whole 848 miles during their cycle alone! 

Stanchester will now add 500 miles to their triathlon target. Their new target now stands at 1374 Miles with the ‘The Swimathon’ on Thursday 20 March at Crewkerne Aqua Centre. ‘The Mile’ (walk) will take place on Friday 21 March when Staff and students  taking part  will walk, run, skip and jump their way around the school field for 1 mile – some in fancy dress. 

The Squadron are collecting donations from people across RNAS Yeovilton, and also via an online sponsorship page:


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