The Centralian advocate Fri 19 Aug 2016
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FRIDAY AUGUST 19 2016 NEWS 05 V1 - CAVE01Z01MA HENLEY ON TODD REGATTA Courage fired up and set for battle Andrea Johnston HMAS Courage captain Steve Smith was adamant his boat was the best boat in the fleet. Ive got the four main water cannons and an additional two, we have 45 mortars with and seven positions for people to be able to launch missiles, Mr Smith said. We have much more firepower than the other two which are just common thugs; Vikings and Pirates. The crew of up to 16 people will involve a couple of real-life members of the navy, in the form of the Royal Australian Navy Band. Were hoping to be able to play off that and get some great crowd support, Mr Smith said. It will be Mr Smiths sixth tour of duty, having sailed on the Courage for the last five years, and been captain for the last four. Like the other crews he paid tribute to the more than 1500 man hours that had gone into the boats maintenance this year. Its an absolute nightmare. This year weve had to strip it right back, give it a complete paint job, redo the signs. Its a massive effort but everyone does it happily, he said. Until you take part in the battle you just cant understand how fun it is. Everyone just wants to come back and do it again and again. ACCORDING to Vikings driver Neil Ross, being involved in the Henley on Todd boat battle is the most fun you can have with our pants on. Its a real buzz and a real hoot, all the adrenaline, Mr Ross said. Its pretty rough on there, the boats going up and down. We have bangers, missiles and everything. Its crazy. This will be the last event for Mr Ross, who at the age of 60 has decided he needs a break. Ive been involved for long enough, and its very taxing because Im on the organising committee too and in the end its a young persons game, he said. Mr Ross first got involved with the battle boats when his company Ross Engineering was tasked with building a boat to last in 1983. We got out an old Toyota Landcruiser that had been rolled, stripped it down and turned it into a patrol boat it Neil gets ready to hang up ol helmet eventually became the pirate boat you see today, Mr Ross said. Ross Engineering is also responsible for the Cape Todd lighthouse which overlooks the event, and countless business hours are put into keeping the Viking boat in its tiptop condition. His engineering skills in creating and repairing many of the boats that are used on the Henley on Todd, often at no charge, make the event what it is today, said Commodore Bill Palmer. Even though hes quiet, hes always got that little bit of the cheeky boy in him, said co-captain Jayne Winter. He glows up like the moon and says I like that idea. Mr Ross has been driving battle boats solidly for almost two decades, with involvement in many battles in the years before that. The visibility isnt very good and youre challenged to not get bogged, dont hit anyone else, dont run over any fences, he said. Andrea Johnston Neil Ross is bowing out with years of crazy memories of the Henley on Todd. Picture: ANDREA JOHNSTON Intrepid sea-dog Quinton embarks on long journey to join fun PIRATE Quinton Kessner is travelling all the way from his new home of Port Augusta to drive the Pirate boat in this years event. Mr Kessner said the Henley on Todd had been a massive part of his familys life for the last decade. I also have a connection to the boat which dates back to 1988 when my father was a crew member on this boat, Mr Kessner said. Mr Kessners fondest memories include taking the battle boats to Adelaide for the Clipsal 500 to advertise Henley on Todds 50th anniversary and the time he put the events public announcement system to particularly good use. Proposing to my now wife in the river bed at Henley on Todd in front of 4000 people, to top this off I did it in a pirate voice. The valiant crew of the Nauteus will number about 14 plus groupies, according to captain Sam Edelman. Our strategy is to put pet rol in this year, Mr Edelman said. Last year we forgot to refuel the boat and we ran out of petrol as the battle was about to start. I had to do the 100-metre dash with a 20-litre jerry on my head. Steve Smith from HMAS Courage. Picture: REX NICHOLSON Quinton Kessner will drive the Pirate boat. 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