Surrey Off-Road Specialists Limited

This years Rhino Charge was held Saturday 2nd of October, the venue was Long Valley near Aldershot, home of the British Army. As usual this charitable event was able to take place due to the combined efforts of a band of willing volunteers comprising of, Lorna McBurnie and her team from Rhino Ark as well as Brian Hartley and his Club Off-Road members, who all did stirling work creating a most enjoyable event.

The reason that the Rhino Charge exists, is to raise funds towards an electrified enclosure in Kenya that the near extinct Black Rhino can live in protected from poachers. To find out more about the Rhino Ark visit their website at: www.rhinoark.org or call +44 (0)181 944 6688 and feel free to make a donation.

The UK event is a spin off from the large annual event that is held in Kenya.

The Surrey Off-Road team was entered under the name of "Toy Jeep" with the team members being Iris Kaste (our international representative), Mary Kaczor (a top lady and racing car driver), Roger Boyd (friend of Rhino Ark and Mary) and myself. Also flying the flag was Kenny Shann together with Kath and Alex in "Daisy"under the team name "Whingate Stores". He obviously enjoyed having 2 lovely ladies navigating for him, he didn't stop smiling all weekend.

Chrysler Jeep UK was represented by Brian Reese (CJUK Press office) together with television presenter John Leslie at the wheel of a new Grand Cherokee and Beth Reese keeping them on course under the Team name of the "Flying scotsman" .

John, now a veteran of 2 Rhino Charges was one of the few Celebrities invited who actually made the effort to turn up. When he had finished with us he was off to another fundraising function for another charity!

There were all the usual faces such as Team Gumtree, Team OB's , Rhino Ray etc.all charging about hunting for clues and completing the tasks created by the Club Off-road mobs warped minds.

The event started with a drivers briefing in the marquee at the car park, we were issued with a large aerial photograph with points plotted on it. The system was that you had to locate all of the points and complete a series of tasks before the end of the event. Some of the points had a punch on a short chain attached to a post. Each vehicle had a card tied to the dashboard that had to be punched, the tricky bit was that you had to manoeuvre the vehicle so that the punch could be accessed from the passengers side. This often involved some interesting driving. Once you had punched the card you had to drive usually to the opposite side of the site to find the matching section or task that corresponded to the number on the punch. All of the tasks had a time limit and we failed most of them. We did however have a good time trying.

One of our most prominent failures was a task run by Larry Byrne. This consisted of a variation of the hoop and wire game, where you have to try and run a hoop along a wire without it touching and setting of the buzzer. This version meant driving the vehicle alongside the wire with the passenger attempting to guide a hoop on a pole along the wire. It sounds easy but the route was over uneven terrain and it was very hard to gauge how near or far the hoop was away from the wire. Our first attempt was with Roger leaning out of the rear passengers seat with Mary yelling encouragement and advice. We managed about 1 foot at best. Roger was getting seriously frustrated (mostly with the fact that the whole team was falling about laughing), To make matters worse Rhino Ray's team showed up and started offering more (mostly conflicting) advice. Next Mary had a go with Roger giving her an equally hard time , we did marginally better but still no result.

Iris had a brief go before collapsing with a laughter attack. At this point we ran out of time having travelled no further than 1 foot at best. The entire section was probably 15 feet long!

We left Ray's team battling with this extremely difficult task. (they actually completed it) and moved on. Another particularly difficult task involved Iris standing on top of a very windy hill, with a pair of semaphor flags attempting to direct me to gates that had letters on them and also whether to go forwards or backwards through them. This was made even harder due to Iris having to translate the instructions from English to German before attempting to instruct me. It was quite comical watching Iris reading the instructions and then gripping them with her knees to prevent them blowing away whilst frantically waving the flags followed by more translation.

We actually got disqualified due to some dubious signalling from Iris, she was supposed to flag me whether to go backwards or forwards and not point with her fingers. It was very entertaining, I donít think Iris had much fun, but I enjoyed it.

We were incredibly lucky with the weather, the forecast had been very bleak all week and was suggesting a hurricane and heavy rain, instead we had glorious sunshine although there was a lot of water on the site.

It was a real treat to see the team OB's Auto Union Munga , roof off flying around. They were all dressed in what appeared to be winter issue army overalls and cossack style furry hats. Throughout the day you would hear the Munga screaming around with its 2 stroke engine sounding as though its doing 100 MPH and then it would appear pottering along. If I had to pick a team that I felt captured the spirit of the event it would be them.

Once the Rhino Charge had finished, the Tiger Lines event starts. The Rhino Charge is designed so standard 4x4's can compete without damage. This event is for the more serious off-roaders who don't mind pushing their vehicles a bit further. The event consisted of 3 sections. The first was a meander through a fairly deep muddy puddle about 50 feet long. Most vehicles cleared it without drama, a couple experienced some difficulty. It was at this section when Rhino Ray was letting his son have a go behind the wheel with him navigating, that I heard Ray telling his boy to "just take it easy". A case of "do as I say" rather than "do as I do". I don't think Ray could have resisted the chance to soak the crowd standing just inches from the waters edge.

The next section was a lot more challenging, It consisted of 3 quite difficult short hills next to one another all with differing degrees of difficulty. You could take them in any order but you had to announce it before you started and complete the section without stopping. Most of the vehicles cleared it and we were off to the last section.

This was a long deep puddle bordering on being a small a lake, there were a couple of footballs floating around in the middle , one orange and one white. The idea was to get the footballs into their respective goals using the bow wave made by your vehicle. This proved harder than you would think especially as the white goal was at the end and the orange goal was off to the right. Just as I announced that I didn't fancy going first, I drew the short straw. Initially I eased in slowly and attempted to move the balls around. This didn't really do much so I tried some more speed, this was a lot better and the balls started going roughly where I wanted them. After a while I managed to get the white in and was desperately struggling to get the orange in. The problem is, as you get into the shallower water at the side, the water doesn't move much, so the ball doesn't move much either. As I was being counted down to the finish I backed up into the deep stuff and with a final push managed to score with 15 seconds left on the clock. Everybody managed it eventually some making it look easy, others having a hard time of it

Once we had all finished it was back to the hotel for the evening Gala. After a pleasant meal and the prize giving, the disco kicked in. It was here that the women from our table took top honours with Alex and Beth doing a fantastic routine to Gloria Gaynors (?) " I will Survive" ending with Alex doing the splits in a very professional fashion not once but twice. It bought tears to my eyes along with most other males in the place I should think. Brian and Beth, Kenny, Kath and Alex on the dance floorBrian and Beth demonstrated a particularly raunchy version of slow dance while Kenny, Kathy and Alex had a 3 way number going. It was a thoroughly fun event and I hope more people will have a go next year.