Shearwater technician shows his strength

News Article / November 26, 2019

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From 12 Wing Public Affairs

“I had big confidence in my training,” says Master Corporal Gabriel Auclair. “I kept thinking of all the work I did to get there. I focused on my breathing; I trusted my abilities.”

Master Corporal Auclair’s confidence was warranted. Earlier this year, the aviation systems technician (AVN tech) from 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia, placed first in his weight class and age group, and helped Team Canada’s men’s team earn the number one spot at the 2019 World Masters Olympic Weightlifting Championships in Montréal, Québec.

“It was very stressful because Canada was still in second place when it was my turn,” he says, adding he was the last on the team to compete, and that he knew if he lifted well, it would mean the difference between a silver and a gold for the men’s team.

Competing in the over-35 age group and over-109 kilogram weight class, Master Corporal Auclair pulled through for his teammates in both of his events: the snatch, and the clean and jerk. He lifted 138 kilograms for the snatch and 177 kilograms in the clean and jerk, for a total weight of 315 kilograms. As a first-time member of Team Canada, he set three Canadian records: one for each individual event and one for the combined total.

Back at 12 Wing’s 406 Maritime Operational Training Squadron, Master Corporal Auclair is all smiles when he talks about his experience in Montréal. He says the competition was intense and the American team can be quite intimidating. “But none of that affected me,” he says. “And my coach was quite proud of me for that.”

Master Corporal Auclair is back to his regular work and workout routine now, after a two-week break from training in September. The AVN tech fits his five-times-per-week training schedule around his hours at the wing, where he has worked since he finished his trade training in 2003. He was posted first to Shearwater, from 2003 to 2007, and then to 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron in Patricia Bay, in British Columbia, and now to 406 Squadron.

“I love the people I work with,” he says. “This crew has been outstanding. We really look out for each other.” As for the technical aspect, he adds, “I love the challenge of mechanical work. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always torn everything apart and put it back together.”

Joining the Canadian Armed Forces was his father’s idea. He suggested it as a route to help Master Corporal Auclair become bilingual and improve his chances for his application to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “But I loved my job,” says Master Corporal Auclair, “so I stayed.” By doing so, he’s travelled the world on deployments with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Ottawa, Ville de Québec, Algonquin and Winnipeg.

Master Corporal Auclair radiates positive energy when he speaks—whether it’s about his past successes or future goals. He says he expects to deploy again, but hopes to do so as a sergeant, something he’s striving for these days. He’s working toward a qualification that will allow him to ensure that helicopter maintenance has been done properly and to then release the aircraft to the pilot.

While he’s working on career progression, he’ll also be logging 2.5-hour workouts at his local gym with an eye on the upcoming season. This will include competitions at the provincial and national levels, with the ultimate goal of being selected again for Team Canada and defending his title at next year’s World Masters Championships in Germany.

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