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Learning to navigate at the HRA Trailblazer

20/04/09 | by matt [mail] | Categories: Event reports


Apparently HRA navigational events are not the easiest, so I was a bit nervous about my first navigational experience being through the maze of roads around Heathcote in the HRA run Trailblazer.

Not being entirely sure what I was doing, I struggled to complete the plotting for the first Tour in the allocated time, and after realising a few minutes before our scheduled start time that we had neglected to apply the numbers we started a couple of minutes late.

A typical HRA passage control official!
(Photo by John Doutch)

Apart from a WD (wrong direction) at High Camp where I just plain forgot to enforce the required entry direction, I started to get the hang of it towards the end and overall I thought we did reasonably well. I keenly await the final results to find out where we lost so many points since I thought we answered all questions correctly and found most of the info boards. (I've since found the correct entry to High Camp on my way home from work at Bendigo!)

During the dinner break we had a great meal provided by the Heathcote Show Society and I started plotting for the Trial while Graham investigated the heater leak (which was a loose hose clamp) and refueled. I didn't finish plotting Loop 2 so we cut & run most of Tour 2 to allow me to continue plotting before the Trial began.

The dust during the Trial was a real problem, especially in the second loop where we started 19 minutes after our nominated start since we took a break to regroup. On more than one occasion we had to stop completely, and a couple of times we were crawling along bouncing between the dirt banks pushed up by the grader on the side of the road which was reminiscent of the service/transport route out of Tibooburra on the RCtoGC. We missed maybe 4 or 5 intersections simply because we couldn't see them ahead and only noticed them out the side windows as we passed them.

Graham Pate and Cale Pearce sideways at the Trailblazer
(Photo by John Doutch)

The two biggest navigational difficulties I had resulted from my incomplete plotting of intermediate distances, and the compass being out of calibration by about 20 degrees. The compass error cost us at least 15 minutes on Loop 2 where I thought we were heading due north as mapped, but we were actually heading NNE on a divergent road wondering why we couldn't find the required road going off to the right. We lost more time when we stopped to tow start the Mitchell/Hall Peugeot after they stalled with dead electrics and a flat battery, but they were appreciative of the spotlight torch we loaned them which allowed them to get back to control.

I can only remember seeing one No Rally Entry board the entire event, probably because we were too far off the plotted route to see any more! Graham drove well and kept us out of the shrubbery, and managed to keep clear of the many hidden stumps. I now have a much better idea of what's involved in a navigational rally and have a large list of things to improve and do differently for my next event. Fortunately it turns out I'm a good passenger and didn't spew when others did, so I'm now really looking forward to navigating for Rohan Teagle in the Rally Bonnie Doon after thoroughly enjoying the Trailblazer (when I wasn't completely lost).

Cale Pearce

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