2009 EPISODE 11 of 12: WATER CONFIDENCE TEST
Soldiers will have to overcome their fears to conquer the Water Confidence Test.
The Best Ranger is a 59-hour nonstop competition. At the outset of day three, hour 52, the Rangers teams were faced with the Helocast: build a poncho raft, jump from a helicopter 25 feet off the water and swim to shore. These Rangers aren't out of the water yet. Up next, the Water Confidence Course.
SFC Chad E.W. Stackpole: "This is awesome, this is it, it's the end of BRC and we've got a couple more events ahead of us, can't wait to attack them."
TCS, complete a series of three obstacles over water. Climb tower 1 to the log walk 30 feet in the air. If you fall off the obstacle, you're given a second attempt. Fall off twice and you're disqualified. Second obstacle, transition to the rope drive, traverse the rope to the Ranger tab. Tap the tab and drop into the water below. Make your way out of the water, pick up a pulley on your way to the slide for life. When pass the start/finish line, your Ranger buddy can start his turn on the course. Continue on to the third obstacle, a 75-foot tower cable slide. Ascend to the top of the tower, attach your pulley and slide down the cable. At the VS-17 panel marker, drop into the water. Climb out of the water and run to the finish line. The clock will stop when the second Ranger crosses the finish line. The Water Confidence Course is more about overcoming your fears than it is about your swimming abilities.
CSM John Burns: "All of the competitors are Ranger qualified which is nothing more than they've been through Ranger School at one point in their careers. They've taken the foundation that we've trained them on in Ranger School and kind of taken that to the next level. They're competitors, they're athletes, they're guys who have taken the basics that we taught them and honed them just a little better skill set."
Until you become a Ranger, you won't truly understand what it means when they say Ranger community to belong, to be a part of something bigger than yourself.
SFC Chad E.W. Stackpole: "There's great camaraderie, there is no I'm better than you are. Nobody's sitting there kind of sticking to their own, staying quiet. Very great field this year; as you can see, the fans are cheering for the second-place team. They are phenomenal, they talk to us, talk about techniques, asked us about techniques. We've just had a good time together."
Team 22 Zajkowski and Jenkins are digging deep for every ounce of energy they have left. With only two events to go, time is short, and so are points. With the top five teams within 200 points of each other, anything can still happen. Even though the Water Confidence Course configurations change each year, and there's really no way to keep records, it's belief that Jenkins' and Zajkowski time is unofficially a new record. Stackpole and Simms, seeing the time that they have to beat, are most concerned with not beating themselves.
SFC Chad E.W. Stackpole: "The standings are great right now, we just still have to continue to play the game because we can still mess up and not finish this thing properly, the way we want to finish in first. We're just going to continue executing and go slow and smooth and just try to play the game that we've been playing the entire time. You don't want to be too arrogant with it and think that you have it. I mean, everyone out here is a natural gifted competitor. Anything can happen to any single one of these guys out here at any single time."
Team 21, Stackpole and Simms, both know they hold their own destiny in their own two hands. As they push hard across all three obstacles they know it will be nearly impossible to beat Jenkins and Zajkowski?s record time. But to maintain their slim lead over Team 22, they can't do worse than second or risk giving up the lead with only two events left to go. Stackpole and Simms didn't beat Zajkowski and Jenkins' record time, but scored the second fastest time on the Water Confidence Course and enough points to hold off Team 22.
MSG Walter J. Zajkowski: "Oh yeah, I mean we're all brothers in arms, and we're all cut of the same cloth, so when they do great out there, you're just as proud of them as if it was you."
98 Rangers started the event with a Buddy Run; in the 59th and final hour of the 2009 Best Ranger Competition, the remaining Rangers will once again reach deep within themselves one last time. The final event: 3.5-Miles to Ranger glory.
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