The threat of high winds and rain didn’t stop the Air National Guard from hosting its rescue rodeo in the Peconic Bay Tuesday morning.
Six U.S. pararescue teams, known as PJs, and one all-volunteer Sea Rescue group from South Africa (Cape Town, Plattenberg and Port Elizabeth) showed off their skills in a race of five-person teams on inflatable Zodiac boats.
“[The race] requires a little bit of thoughtful navigation, breath holding and other skills we use in rescues and other missions,” said Master Sergeant Jules Roy, a PJ with the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach. The 106th is hosting the rodeo, so its members are not participating. It is held every two years and the 106th won the event in Kentucky four years ago.
The race, which began at 8:30 a.m., went from Treasure Cove Marina in Riverhead to Greenport and back. It’s part of a week-long reunion of pararescue technicians.
They headed out on the Peconic River to the County 105 bridge propelled only by paddle, since it’s a no-wake zone. Once there, a designated PJ had to climb a 30-foot rope to the top of the bridge and record his time. After that, the teams headed to Greenport, powered by a 30-horsepower motor.
Once in Greenport, the teams competed in precision parachuting over Great Peconic Bay. The five-person Zodiac teams then had to dive without scuba gear into the harbor to retrieve a keg full of water, representing the illegal liquor that flowed into the village during Prohibition, and unlock a cable to free cans of fuel needed to return to Riverhead.