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March 17, 2011
SEE, reading the Air Force
News sports pages can be
a path to exhilaration. It
certainly was for OFFCDT
In November she was browsing
this paper -- just as you are now --
and spied a small notice for the Army
White Water Association's sea kayak-
ing training event Exercise Tasman
Advance in Tasmania for 10 days in
The good news was that it was
open to RAAFies, too, so OFFCDT
Sutcliffe decided to respond. Test the
waters, as it were.
"I thought it sounded like a good
adventure. I'm from Southern Tassie
and was on summer holidays at the
time of the exercise, so I didn't need
to apply for leave or travel," she said.
OFFCDT Sutcliffe, who is in her
second year studying electrical engi-
neering at ADFA in Canberra, had
never been sea kayaking before. Nor
did she know anyone else going on
It was not until day one she actu-
ally met the other 13 personnel and
she realised that at 19 she was the
youngest by nine years.
She was not the only Air Force
RAAFies are invited to participate
in the Army White Water
Association's Exercise Tasman
Advance 2012, a tri-service
sea kayaking adventure training
activity, in south-east Tasmania
from January 4 to 14. Expressions
of interest can be submitted to peter.
ALL ABOARD: Above, food, camping equipment and clothing needed to be safely stored
within the kayak for the circumnavigation of Maria Island. Right, WGCDR Tony Wennerbom
and Dr Elizabeth Thomson explore tight spots, and below right, on Bruny Island.
Photos: WGCDR Tony Wennerbom and CPL Tim Thompson
The other was WGCDR Tony
Wennerbom who started sea kayak-
ing in 2003 and has done a number of
expeditions in Tasmania and Victoria.
WGCDR Wennerbom works at
RAAF Base Williams at Laverton.
WGCDR Wennerbom also took
along his camera with an underwater
housing that he uses when scuba div-
ing.He said OFFCDT Sutcliffe did
"Over the 10 days she went from
a complete novice to someone who
has now completed the first level of
an Australian Canoeing award in sea
kayaking," he said.
It also provided her with her first
look at the Tasmanian coastline from
the sea. Aside from introducing sea
kayaking to newcomers and teach-
ing the basic skills, Exercise Tasman
Advance offers existing members
experiences which range from entry
level to advanced expedition.
A number of participants either
requalified as unit adventurous train-
ing leaders or received sea kayak-
ing qualifications from Australian
The exercise started at Bruny
Island where the novices were intro-
duced to the skills of how to safely
control a sea kayak in the cooler
waters of the Southern Ocean. The
next two days were spent exploring
sea caves, sliding through floating
kelp forests and visiting some well-
known rock formations.
Each activity included further
skills in trip planning, group manage-
ment on the water and delivering pre-
Phase two was at Triabunna with an
18km crossing to Maria Island, famous
for its penal history and cliff lines. It
was here that both groups experienced
expeditionary kayaking where all food,
camping equipment and clothing for
the next three to four days needed to be
safely stored within the kayak.
Pod One explored the Fossil
Cliffs on the north-east side of the
island, while Pod Two circumnavigat-
ed the island -- exploring some new
paddle locations for use on future
adventure training exercises.
WGCDR Wennerbom said this cir-
cumnavigation was a highlight for him.
"The low light was the bad weath-
er on the last two days of the trip and
not getting the opportunity to explore
Port Arthur and Fortescue Bay," he
It wasn't all smooth paddling for
OFFCDT Sutcliffe either.
One day she woke up with a sore
wrist and had to have it strapped.
Another day she spent some min-
utes in the icy waters when she was
swamped by a huge wave while try-
ing to paddle backwards into a cave
on a training drill. When she recov-
ered, she did it again with ease.
Being a Tasmanian did have its
At the end of the trip the pad-
dlers had a celebratory dinner on the
"Then we parted ways. I was the
first home because I only live 25 min-
utes away," she said.
'Over the 10 days
she went from a
complete novice to
someone who is now
completed the first
level of an Australian
Canoeing award in
-- WGCDR Tony
IN 2007, FSGT Tony Benfer was
left on the roadside by a hit and
He lost his lower right leg, and
now has an artificial right elbow
and only four fingers on his right
But that disability has not
stopped FSGT Benfer, a PTI, who
is the head of the Physical and
Recreation Training section at
RAAF Base Wagga.
Last year he made waves as
a rower, and got back on skis as
part of an ADF Paralympic Sports
Program and Association training
camp at Thredbo.
On March 2 he returned trium-
phant with an ADF team from the
US Marine Corp Paralympic Trials
at Camp Pembleton, California.
FSGT Benfer, pictured right in
his team colours, won three gold
medals in the below-knee ampu-
tees section (50m freestyle, 50m
backstroke and 100m freestyle)
and a silver medal in wheelchair
See next edition for the full story.
Paralympian's golden return from US
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