Brilliant result for Blind Navigators

Few realise that Blind Navigator Rallies originated in South Africa. Born blind, Graham Pitt, was educated at the Pioneer School for the Blind and upon completion of his studies in 1947 he joined the second oldest motoring club in South Africa, the Cape Peninsula Motorcycle and Car Club, persuading the organisers of the Western Cape Regularity Rally Championship to print the Route Schedules in Braille so that he could compete with his wife Cedie driving.

Selected as Club Captain his duties included ensuring that the then Automobile Association of South Africa rules and regulations were strictly adhered to. Close friend Walter Cohen attending the AA executive meetings in Cape Town and Walter approached all the information gained to the Wilds Lions Club Johannesburg and the then actually ran the very first Blind Navigators Rally in 1966.

Abe Sank then approached the Lighthouse Club in Cape Town and the Sea Point Lions presented their first Blind Navigators Rally in 1967, and have continued to do so for the past 53 years! Every year five events are organised in the Western Cape and for the past 20years the Lions Sea Point event have enjoyed the support of REACT Marketing (Andy and Christina Haigh-Smith).

Derek Sturgess have been the Chairman of the South African Regularity Rally Association for the past 15 years and have been Clerk of the Course for the Cape based events for some 20 years. He has been Clerk of the Course for the Worcester round of the championship for the past 35 years. Roger Manton is the SARRA Treasurer / Coordinator with Cheryl Kruger the REACT Lions Sea Point Blind Navigators Rally Event Coordinator.

38 Teams, consisting of a driver and navigator, started the 20th REACT Lions Sea Point Blind Navigators Rally on Saturday 16 February 2020 and they negotiated a secret route with six hidden time controls and some 125km in total distance before returning to the WPMC Clubhouse at the Killarney International Raceway. A welcome midway pit stop at ABACA (home to Andy and Christina Haigh-Smith) energised everyone for the second half of the event.

Sea Point Lioness, Diane Sochen, and her team present at Killarney to award the podium achievers and to thank her dedicated team of volunteers who truly succeeded in making this a most memorable experience for all involved.

André Joubert and Natasha Kruger victorious on the day in their Ford Ranger with just 10 penalty points incurred. No, he does not have an Austrian accent nor did he turn into the Terminator at each control. A little bit of experience, a willing ear and great cooperation the secret to success in an event where being a competitor simply outweighs the overall result.

Eckhard Kriebel and Dries Burger counts amongst the heavies in this category and though they have won most events a number of times, success on the REACT Rally once again eluded them as the Nissan Patrol nabbed second overall on a full Nelson, 111 penalty points. Their result actually very beneficial to the sport as it now means Ekhard cannot retire. His goal is to continue until he adds the REACT Rally to his list of victories. Thus, be warned as Mr Nissan will be ack for the 21st REACT Lions Sea Point Blind Navigators Rally in 2021!

Marcel Viljoen and Michelle Nel third on 115 penalty points in their Ford Ranger. No, they do not compete in class B. The B denotes the fact that all these navigators are blind, but it would be fair to say they “see” life much better than us sighted folk. To experience the spirit and camaraderie at this event was actually a privilege.

Ronan Sanderson and Chris van der Vyver (Partially Sighted) took fourth spot on 120 penalty points in their Ford Bantam. No differentiation is made between sighted, partially sighted or blind navigators as believe me you simply have to bring your A game if you have any intentions of finishing on the podium.

Christo van Staden and Herman Louw (normally found in the back of the Sweep car on regional rallies with a radio in hand) an excellent fifth overall on 130 penalty points in their unique VW Transporter. What you drive is of little importance here as the secret ingredient remains the navigator. And do not bother trying to peek over and read the route schedule – it’s in braille (printed double sided nogal).

Frans Kruger and Elouise Toerien steered their bright red Hyundai Getz to sixth overall on 132 penalty points. In most forms of motorsport convincing the ladies to compete is quite a challenge yet this event was almost 50/50 with male and female navigators.

David Morrison and Johan Botha drove a Ford Transit to seventh with 153 penalty points. No, nobody knows what they had in the back of the truck but is somehow looked quite at home on this event.

John Houston and Veronica Vosloo scored 180 penalty points in their neat Renault Duster with veteran South African Rally Championship navigator, Mike Swarbreck, and Cheryl Kruger (Event Coordinator) made it the finish in their Landrover ninth overall on 197 penalty points. André Boersma and Ivaan Levendal completing the top ten with 208 penalty points in their Toyota.

Phillip Calder and Jo-Lize Bronkhorst 11th overall on 259 penalty points in their Toyota Fortuner with Marius Feyt and Ferdi Venter 12th overall on 291 penalty points in their Toyota Aygo. Deon van den Berg and Morné van der Merwe motivating their Nissan NP300 to 13th spot with 303 penalty points whilst Phillip Möller and Jeanie Rudolph were well pleased in 14th spot on 346 penalty points in their VW Golf.

Veteran Sport & GT racer, Louis de Jager, and Cairie van der Vyver making the top 15 in their Audi Estate on 351 penalty points. Trying to judge where each team would finish was something else as at times new routes were invented, actual route recovered and number sequence was of little importance. Watching the expression on the face of Roger Manton (Treasurer) certainly told a story that was fortunately in good hands as Dave Smeda drove ZR1FR-WP as Sweep on the day. Everyone would be accounted for – eventually!

Rhian Meaths and Marius Swart 16th on 354 penalty points in the Nissan NP200 with Leith Steele and Hein Joubert 17th on 387 penalty points in their Ford Ranger. Barry Morris and Hylton Brander 18th on 439 penalty points in their neat VW Tiguan whilst Ginny Hulse and Naomi Lindoor placed 19th as the first all female crew on 448 penalty points in their Peugeot 307.

James Blaser and Wilmarie Pekeur (Partially Sighted) completed the top twenty on 459 penalty points in their Audi. Unfortunately their car was so quick off the line no photographic proof was possible. Gina Coughlan (New Driver) and Vincent van Blerk surprised themselves by finishing in 21st spot on 464 penalty points in their Jeep.

Daniël Jordaan and André Vosloo 22nd on 533 penalty points in their Ford Ranger with David Frey (New Driver) and Nickey Labuschagne 23rd on 889 penalty points in their Honda Jazz. With 600 penalty points maximum error possible on each control this was the first team crossing into the higher percentages. The question remains, can you do better?

Mari Hamman (New Driver) and totalling 1006 penalty points in 24th spot with their Hyundai Accent with Frans Hamman (New Driver) and Chantelle Buys hot on their heels in 25th spot with 1222 penalty points in their Opel Corsa LDV. Sandy Stead and Myrtle Brander 26th on 1285 penalty points in their Honda CRV. Andries Erasmus (New Driver) and Nathan Botes 27th overall on 1525 penalty points in their Toyota Hilux.

Ian Sinclair (sound very FF?) and Joan Rossouw 28th overall in the Chevrolet Aveo on 1896 penalty points with Pieter Steyn (New Driver) and Nettie Coetzee 29th on 2075 penalty points in their Fiat Panda. Mascot, Francesco the dragon, taking the blame for the fact that their slight detour allowed them to quickly visit the outdoor expo in Malmesbury!

Kelvin Payne and Rachel Davids closed the top 30 with 2095 penalty points in their Renault Sandero. Ivone Billingham (New Driver) and Bianca van Schoor 31st overall, scoring 2221 penalty points in their Toyota Rav 4. Mama Bear, Anette Vermaak (New Driver), and Christo Vorster also managed a detour near Rondeberg in their Nissan X Trial but was all smiles about their 2229 penalty point score and 32nd position overall.

Grove Jordaan and Caroline Turner 33rd in the Jeep on 2288 penalty points. Michael Bredenkamp (new Driver) and André Steyn achieved a debut 34th spot on 2327 penalty points in their Hyundai i20 whilst Chris Giliomee (New Driver) and Franco Jacobs netted 35th spot on 2723 penalty points in their attractive Jaguar.

Greg Paton (New Driver) and Martin Theron 36th on 2767 penalty points in the VW Golf with Colin Sunkel and Nicholas Stevens 37th overall on 2998 penalty points in the VW Polo. Winners of the Wooden Spoon award on this occasion was 38th placed Ursula Paton (New Driver) and Precious Cakwebe in the Hyundai i10.

An absolute privilege to be a finisher in this event and one would be tempted to think that quite a few of the newcomers will be hunting for the How to contest a Regularity Rally book by the legendary Brian “Spotti” Woodhead. If only it existed!

Compliments to Johan Uys for the very efficient scoring of the event. Clearly the entire team behind the scenes have been doing this for longer than they care to remember.

Round two will take competitors to Ceres on Saturday 18 April 2020.

Make yourself available!

PS. South African Regularity Rally Association welcomes sighted, partially sighted and blind navigators crew to compete in their events.

Patrick Vermaak

083 701 8116