Airman swaps blue sky for Equator crossing

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A Royal Air Force airman is on the trip of a lifetime as he takes part in a leg of a round-the-world yacht expedition.

Senior Aircraftsman (SAC) Matthew Charles-Sweeting, a former Hipperholme Grammar School pupil, has been picked to take part in the Exercise Transglobe expedition, which gives airmen, soldiers and sailors an opportunity to sail the world on two yachts.

The expedition, which is intended to develop leadership, initiative and resilience in military personnel, started from Gosport, Hampshire, in July and will sail 35,000 nautical miles stopping at Cape Town, Montevideo, New York and other destinations.

A total of 392 women and men, from both the reserve and regular services, will take part during the 13 legs of the journey until it concludes back in Gosport in August 2016.

Matthew will be crewing Adventure of Hornet, which is a joint services Challenge 72 yacht, during Exercise Transglobe’s leg nine.

This leg starts in Montevideo, Uruguay, and ends in St Lucia, in the Caribbean. This journey will include sailing over the equator where there will be the ceremony of Crossing the Line.

The sailors who have never crossed the equator will be introduced to King Neptune and his court who will induct them into ‘the mysteries of the Deep’ and present them with certificates.

“I never thought a career in the RAF would involve a 4,200 mile sailing expedition,” he said.

Matthew, 28, joined the RAF in 2012. He is now based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, where he works as an ICT Technician where he provides deployed communications anywhere in the world.

He added: “This exercise is an amazing opportunity to take part in sailing around the world presents a unique challenge which will enable me to develop skills and life experience that cannot be gained anywhere else.

“Each leg of Transglobe represents an immense challenge. I am delighted to have the chance to take part in leg nine.”