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With the usual amount of foreboding I intend being somewhat nepotistic and letting my daughter do a (not 'the' just 'a') write up of the Bulldog from her younger perspective, having got away with it once before it seems a reasonable thing to do... however I intend having my say as well so with the mark of a true gentleman I shall of course let the lady go first. Click the link for pictures of the event.
The following account is by, in her words, one of the up and coming, younger, and therefore less forgetful Redcoats, my daughter. Other than having some inside knowledge through her domestic arrangements it is all her own views and not necessarily, indeed most likely NOT those of the management;
Guess who? That's right ladies and gents I'm back, your very own spy in the head red house. I'm here, not only for your entertainment, but to report on the 2004 Bulldog Trophy, that as you should all know took place on the 25/26th September. As one of the biggest events on the off road calendar, weeks of preparation and hours of sheer hard work (not by me though!) went into creating this year's weekend of competitive chaos, and as usual it paid off. As said in the entry form the land wasn't as tough as previous Bulldogs' but the scenes were stunning and, the fight for top dog was as fierce as ever.
underlying theme seemed to run through everything, pray for dry weather
otherwise we're up all kinds of creek with no paddle. Luckily it was a
clear night with a bright moon when I arrived so no need to be talking
to the Big Guy upstairs yet. To make the beginning of the day more interesting
the 32 teams of two vehicles were split up. It was a bit like Land Rovers
without leaks, tyres without mud or Brian without baldness, somehow morally
wrong but it made the start of the event a lot more entertaining. While
one half of the team completed the prologue to determine the starting
order for the day, the other half were sent to go wait at the start line
for their team-mates.
following day (Sunday) was in a new site and to make things a bit more
equal the starting order was reversed. So the leaders after the first
day's games were last off while those trailing got a head start. Once
again the day would involve pairs of punches and sections, this time however
the punches were not hidden in cryptic clues, they were straight up and
surprise, surprise almost everyone got full marks for their punch work!
Hooray! The day may have gone pear shaped even with the easy grid references
if one of the younger, and therefore less forgetful, Redcoats (Martin
Jones) hadn't pointed out that the competitors hadn't yet got any punch
cards to punch the punches on
watch out, we're rising through the
prize-giving was, as usual, funny and really brought out the good side
of the off roading clan. Aww, we really are just one big happy family!
(With all the murderous backstabbing and rivalry of a real family too!)
Mr Playfair senior brought a welcome touch to the proceedings showing
that off-roaders can have the support of the landowners indeed thanks
go to the whole Playfair family for being so enthusiastic and supportive
of the event.
If it was easy everyone would do it, and they don't, so perhaps it isn't that easy. The job? Running a 4x4 Challenge event.
Two days, one night and over 40 miles off roading on open and often perilously steep hillsides. Thirty one punches, 14 tasks, and innumerable navigational problems make up the challenge that is this, the ninth Bulldog Trophy. The top dogs after all that, Nick Pym, Steve Gaunt (Foers Ibex), Giles Evans, Paul Howes (L/R 90) had double cause for celebration. It was their second consecutive Bulldog triumph. BF Goodrich had equal cause to celebrate, the winning team entered drove to and from the event on the same Mud Terrains habitually used. Just finishing this event is an experience and of the 62 starters all but 6 finished, a testament to them all for their tenacity and commitment. None of the foregoing is bull poop, it's true but let's look behind the statements.
Two days, one night. The weather can be anything but on this occasion it was thankfully dry and quite mild so no real problems on that score. Nevertheless the first day was long and the night short but exceedingly sharp. Day ones navigational problems, which were put in to slow the faster teams down and let the slower teams catch up if they could do a few problem solving exercise's, and also to make what was a fairly open site be a bit more taxing navigationally. There are now motors with GPS systems as big as a lounge telly with real time displays, 3d images of the terrain and two screens with lapse time so the driver can be following the first instructions whilst the navigator gets on with the next set. Just looking at them and the control panel made my head hurt and my eyes cross and the usual irrational desire to reach for the power lead, yank it hard and say. 'There, not so clever now is it?' Actually it is clever and with the right operator it is stunningly efficient BUT it cannot interpret the problems we set in order to find the actual locations you were looking for. To do that you needed a map, an ability to use 6 or 8 figure references and a pair of eyes, once the correct reference has been deduced then technology can certainly come into play BUT it still doesn't know where the fences and usable gates are to start with so once again the human element comes into play. Starting to get the picture?
The site was nowhere near as tough as previous sites and this was flagged up YET... it had the ability, partly because of its apparent gentleness, to lull drivers into a very false sense of security. I prophesied before the event that it had the potential to be one of our more accident prone. It was. 5 rolled motors that I knew about and two rumoured ones not proved and one co driver with a cast on after the event due to a back injury. When is a roll not a roll? When a Redcoat hasn't seen it or so it seems. For the record laid on it's side = roll, dropped in a ditch or similar with 2 wheels waggling in the air but supported by the ditch sides I suppose we could allow as a near miss on a good day. Picture this.
Myself and Keith Bettis with a really steep banking and two excellent anchor trees about 30 yards apart (metres if you're metricised). We placed the punches carefully to ensure one tree could be winched up to but the other would need either a rear mounted winch or a snatch block and a partner winching his team mate up backwards to it. No one would be daft enough to drive down the hill. Wrong on the last part, and of course once the first one has done it the others are bound to follow. If in that situation again would we;
A put tape along the top of the banking to make it no go so no can drive it which makes it safer and somewhat fairer for those with shall we say a more circumspect idea on the wall of death technique or;
B leave it as it is because there was a lot of skill and nerve required to drop over that banking, fortune often favours the brave and no one was forced to do it. We don't know the answer either until next time we stand in a similar situation and try and work out what may or may not happen in any given situation.
The night event was split into two areas so it seemed an eminently sensible idea to split the teams to make life harder. The logic was making the individuals more cautious as the first half hour their team mate couldn't cross to help out. Sadly the word cautious didn't appear in any dictionary any Bulldog entrant ever read, so yet another cunning plan came to nought. Want to know how the buggeration factor can hit home. Several teams on one half of the site reported a stake with no punch. Now having put them out myself it was hard to believe that a punch could have 'disappeared' but there were several corroborating sightings in the pitch dark field so obviously one had been nicked. (BH gets a real strop on about double dealing two faced cheats and what fate would befall them if they were caught etc. etc. which amused those who were close enough to witness it). The only option at that point is to say that only 4 punches will count, so those who did find all 5 now have lost one. The reality of the sitaution was more prosaic. No one had cheated but I had lost a stake off the back of the quad during set up. Not only did these eagle eyed entrants find this stray stake lying in the grass it also just happened to be one with a reflective tape on hence the confusion. As Confucious was oft heard to say ..........! or something similar. Please accept my apologies for the combined slur upon your collective characters.
So to day two. Could we get away with the weather again as we moved on to even higher ground? Well apart from one extremely threatening moment when rain could be seen a couple of miles away advancing across the vale then yes we did. Tasks were more the order of the day up at Morebattle, an apt name don't you think? Yet again the deceptive nature of the ground caught out drivers with two topples during the day. Richard Ibberson when the ground opened up and swallowed him, well that's his story and a convincing one it was too, whilst number 13 (Keith Hutchings) is a firm believer in the old saying that success is usually in private but errors are inevitably public. His diagonal, and extremely stately, fall from grace was slap in the middle of a task so no chance of saving face there at all. The wide open spaces provided a wonderful backdrop to this feast of 4x4 and the welocme provided by the whole Playfair family was areal treat and a tonic for the Cor crew. Once again all our thanks should be directed to the ever genial Jim Smith for making the introductions in the first place. The final prize giving was held up due to a large, as in county sized, bull. the real variety not the Red one or the bull that is often heard around our events. One and a bit tons of 4 legged breeding machine looking at me in a disinterested but distinctly non committal way. dressed entirely in red isa not alway a good thing I decided, despite being told on m,any occasions that bulls are colour blind. I went the long way back, sorry for the dealy.
The prize giving was a genial affair due in no small part to Mr Playfair senior, whose lively talk was a joy to hear and his obvious welcome for us and our brand of motorised madness was a welcome change in this age of political correctness.The 2004 Bulldog was different though not everyones boats were floted by it, what can't be denied is that it threw up worthy winners yet again so that says more than words can.
The following is a list of every entrant, their respective vehicles, their class (Special or Standard) overall score class position for standards and overall position.
Giles Evans/Paul Howes Nick Pym/Steve Gaunt Ibex 250S L/R 100" Spc
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