Rally Navigation

Rally Navigation. Surely just a bit of map reading? Why would I need 3 stopwatches, a calculater, notepad, slide rule, romer and two tripmeters calibrated to the nearest 10ft? Not to mention 1:50,000 scale maps, coloured pens, pencils, torches, bulldog clips, a road book, maginfying glass, compass and a hat? And that’s not all.

Such is the range of kit needed by a navigator on a classic rally – the full list runs to a whole page of A4 there is obviously a little more to it. So, just a bit of map reading it is not.

Why do we need to know about this? Well we’ve entered the BGT in The Rally of the Tests which starts on the 11th in Edinburgh and finishes (we hope) 3 days later in Stratford on Avon. This is a recreation of the original RAC rallies of the 50’s and 60’s and is undertaken in period cars and in period dress. I’m driving and Shivs is navigating, so obviously it made sense for me to go on the navigation course run by the Classic Rally Association last Sunday.

We’ve entered the Clubmen class, rather than the Masters and so I expected to greet a similar group of novices for Lesson One in how to manage road books, regularities and driving tests. Not so. Of the twenty or so folks who attended, I was the only beginner. Two of the chaps were past natiional champions at a professional level and the two ladies behind me had done more rallies than I’ve even heard of. So why on earth did they attend?

Three reasons I think. One, is that the rules do keep changing and it pays to keep up to date. Two, is that rallying is very much a gregarious event. There is a significant social side and competitors from all over the world meet up to have fun with their mates. Third, was the instructor on this course was Willy Cave. Willy is a bit of a legend. WW2 fighter pilot and rally navigator extreme – he knows all the tricks as he invented most of them.

I learned a great deal about how to plot a route, to read a road book (I’d first seen these on the Beijing Rally 10 years ago) and most importantly how to use speed tables on regularities, to ensure a consistent average speed is held over the course of a route.

Most of all though, attending the course really sparked my enthusiasm for doing the rally. Until now I’ve been so busy with everything else that’s going on that beyond making a few preparations to the car I’ve not really done very much. Now I can’t wait to get started. Will keep you posted.

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