Gulf sailors' show of strength in athletic contest

Fresh from holding a ‘Highland Games’, the Royal Navy’s HQ in the Gulf tested the physical prowess of personnel with a day-long test of strength.

More than 80 men and 25 women serving at the RN’s base in Bahrain braved the punishing Middle East sun for the title of ‘strongest sailor’.

Competitors from all three Services took part in various physical challenges – staged in one of the Royal Navy’s air-conditioned warehouses to spare competitors the 40C heat.

Contestants were challenged to lift weights against the clock through to pulling a Mitsubishi Pajero SUV by rope, cheered on by personnel who run the Royal Navy’s operations in the Middle East from the Bahrain headquarters.

“We wanted to make sure everyone got a real challenge and sense of achievement from taking part in the strongman competition so it was a tough afternoon but as well as the hard-work everyone really enjoyed it. We have excellent gym facilities here and lots of opportunities to train,” explained Petty Officer Rob Knott, who helped organise the event – and was crowned winner in the over 95kg category.

Fellow organiser, physical training instructor Petty Officer Dave Berry, added: “We wanted to five personnel a chance to break away from the daily strains of deployment but also do so with social distancing restrictions.

“All those who entered, no matter which category, showed great commitment, courage and desire to compete against a varied range of experience. People are still talking about the competition, which just shows how important events like this are for morale and mental wellbeing.”

Sgt Carrie Smith (Army) triumphed in the ladies’ event, top masters entrant was Lt Cdr Andy Parker, the U85kg title went to Lt Bowden and U95kg was LH Long with the RN’s senior officer in the Gulf, Commodore Dean Bassett, presenting the prizes.

Collectively, participants lifted more than 37,000 tonnes (roughly the equivalent of a new Tide-class tanker… or half the displacement of carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth).