Rally of the North
11th October 2014

For the last few years we have supplied ROTN
(based as you could expect at Paihia, with stages up toward Kaitaia)
with a goodly number of 'block marshalls', between 3 and 9 in fact most years.

This year we were aksed if we could perhaps also provide an experienced
Stage Finish Timing Team too, so we then set about 'getting the numbers',
we estimated twelve or thriteen would be the required number of people.

However before we had managed to gather the troops it was suggested
that perhaps we could do a Stage Start as well !!!
This meant that more like 20 would be required, bugger.

This also meant that (providing we could actually get the numbers)
we could actually take 3 cars, and all 'do' the same stage,
i.e. Start Crew, Block Marshalling throughout it then
the Finish Crew - flying finish, finish control etc.
Seemed like a good plan, just had to get the 'bods'.

It then transpired that they really needed us to cover 4 finishes, so
could we do 2 finishes each rather than 2 starts and 2 finishes?

This we agreed to do,
even though it meant that we now needed 4 cars (a finish requires 2 cars, a start 1).
Oh Joy.

Although now becoming a bit of a mission,
once more Devon (our Post Chief in training) stepped up to the mark,
with Zac as his assistant, more of
the makeup of our teams later.

So we finally ended up with our total of 23 bods, 5 adults and the rest
teenage boys and girls, virtually all of whom had worked before so we
did not have a significant 'newbie' problem.

The event was on Sat 11th October, and with so many of the team(s)
members having to work during the school holidays we collected most over the day or so beforehand
and ended up with some 12 or so teenagers staying here on the Thursday night.

That night the Post Chiefs 'picked their teams',
Devon having 1st choice, so he picked James first so I then picked Emma.

The actual final crew make up appears later.

Friday morning vehicles were despatched in all directions to collect
the others and then we did what has been called a SBT regroup at Burger
King at Dairy Flat just north of Auckland.

Warwick in Chalkie (all our vehicles have names as well as numbers),
Dale in Homy, James in Goldie and Jack(off) in his own car and Steve in
Utey. Yes I know this is more that our 4 car minimum, but was sort of
necessary.

The only real fly in the ointment so far (more to come though) was that
a policeman had seen one of our people standing up in one of the vans,no doubt changing seats
stopped the van and gave him a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.
(When we do the Silver Fern we shall take a vehicle that doesn't need
seatbelts anyway - this will hopefully avoid the problem. )
As has so often been said, the law is an ass, enacted by dickheads, hijacked by
bureaucrats then over enforced by stupid donkeys !!

We all arrived pretty much on time, collected the gear necessary for
the Finish Control stages, then had Fish and chips for tea - well those of us that got any did!!

We then had 'staff training' in the use of the Rally Safe Timing gear.
Until now, in all of the five rallies we have worked on, where it has been in use it has never worked successfully,
but always willing to do our best with it we nevertheless felt we had to be really sure that our
backup 'bomb drop' timing with results radioed to Finish Control was indeed working perfectly.

We all had to be 'out of the gate' at 6 a.m. the next morning, Devon's
team for SS2 and ours for SS3.

Other than having no cell phone coverage, and the fact that our Rally Safe Surface Tablet was rapidly running flat
both teams managed to set up the Rally Safe beams without too much effort,
we put the signs out, got the crews in place and timed the cars.
Both teams also 'did a board' - something we always do (not all finish crews do though).
This shows each competitor the stage times for every car in front of them.
This does seem appreciated by the vast majority
of competitors.

It would be true to say that on the whole we were extremely happy with
how everything went.

Except I should point out that on SS2, the car we were using for Flying finish (Jacks Corolla),
got stuck - no real problem, a recovery vehicle to the rescue,
then lo and behold repacing it with Homy meant that it
too had to be rescued.

Now, a few words about Rallysafe.
Most will be aware that we have probably been one of its harsest critics, at least to date.

SS2 & SS6.
The boys tell me that apart from some difficulty on setting up the
beam, and the fact that despite being fully charged at the start of the
day, the tablet went flat 'just after the last car'. If we had been
able to keep it charged then the system 'worked like a dream'. High
praise indeed from a highly critical crew.

SS3&SS7
This was 'our' team. Here again we had 'some' difficulty setting up the
beam, but for each stage Dale managed to make it work.
Our tablet showed 49% charge at the start of the day - this rapidly dropped to
virtually zero, so we had no tablet times at Finish Control - my thought was 'here we go again'.
However when I sat down at the end of SS3 and asked Rally HQ by radio
whether they wanted me to give them finish times, or stage times from
our 'pink slips' I was told that everything had come through correctly
and they didn't need anything.
Oh joy, what rapture!

At SS7 we thought we had everything under control, the beam was set up,
our 'bomb drop' backup seemed to work exactly as it should, and based
on our experience earlier in the day we foresaw no real problems occurring.
However, several competitors were complaining that the stage times we
were giving them were incorrect.
We rechecked our operation (several times) and could find nothing wrong.

When cleared by the sweeper we were then asked to gather all the
'slips' and deliver them 'post haste' to Rally HQ so they could be audited.
This strongly suggested that 'something hadn't worked'.
We really don't know - but everything did seem fine at our end.

It was when we regrouped at the end of the day that we I discovered that after the sweeper had re opened the road
after SS2 and the boys were collecting the signs, a local 'boy racer' decided to make the most
of the closed road and try and set a 'rally record'.
He managed to crunch our nicest van, either with his dangerous driving, careless
driving, illegal racing or simply not being able to stop within half the clear distance ahead
(our van was stopped well before he hit it !!).
Although still driveable (we drove it home after all) the matter is in
the hands of our insurance company - I have asked that it be fixed
rather than written off but we shall but see.

That night the 5 adults went out for Chinese meal and the teenagers
'entertained themselves' Yeah right.

Sunday we headed home 9 am or so, regrouped at Happy Days, Manukau (our favourite restaurant)
where they kindly put us in a special private room.

We then headed home, delivering people to various homes, including two of the girls to Hamilton.
All teenagers being back in class at their various schools on Monday morning.

The teams were (Adults names in CAPS)

Devon - SS2 & SS6

Zac
James
Savannah
Toby
Nathan
Jack

WARWICK SS3 & SS7

Emma
DALE
Rimu
Tara (J)
Quinten
Ben
Luke

Block Marshalls

STEVE
TINA
CAROL
Tara (T)
Johann
Nico
Kaelon

Another fun weekend even if managing 20 teenagers is not the easiest
task in the world - after all I am supposed to be retired !!!
BUT this said, what a great bunch of boys and girls - all the adults are proud to be associated with them all.

Our next event is the Silver Fern Rally, Picton to Queenstown 8th till 17 Nov - not all that far away.

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