|Aïcha des Gazelles: US-training for the 2012 womens desert-rally in Morocco.|
Fourteen women from various countries ranging from the Dominican Republic, the US and the Province of Québec came together this past weekend to take part in an off-road training program taught by legendary off-road racer Rod Hall and winning stock class racer Emily Miller in preparation for the 2012 "Aïcha des Gazelles" women´s marathonrally in Morocco.
The women, who traveled to Southern California for the training, plan on taking part in the all-female rally this year, and arrived to learn skills required for the intense nine-day competition. The weekend was full of continuous instruction on various techniques applicable to the desert rally, with exercises ranging from dead reckoning navigation, four wheel drive (4WD) basics, sand dune driving, and vehicle maintenance.
On Friday, the teams became familiar with their 4WD Jeep Wranglers as they made their way through Ocotillo Wells. The drive was a chance for the women to not only understand their vehicles’ capabilities, but also an opportunity to work on smooth throttle control, traction control, ascending and descending, and obstacles requiring low-range.
After Friday’s off-road basics, a sand storm greeted the women on Saturday for training at the desolate Imperial Sand Dunes between El Centro, California, and Yuma, Arizona. Covering topics from how to get their vehicle "unstuck" to practicing proper dune driving techniques, the women found themselves deep in gritty sand similar to what they will enounter in the Sahara Desert.
Following the intense days of learning their way through the new terrain, they set up camp at Gordons Well Campground and got to know each other over Moroccan inspired gourmet dinners by Overland Gourmet.
A new concept to most participants, the women learned dead-reckoning navigation on Sunday with Gazelle winner and rally official Louise Bergeron. They were walked through different plotting scenarios using only a compass, ruler, and a few outdated maps, which are the only items allowed in the rally. The weekend-long training program ended with information on rally expectations and guidelines by Miller and Bergeron.
Chrissie Beavis, an architect and professional rally navigator from the US, stated, "Having a race based on map reading and choosing your own path is a major departure from rally car navigating, and I look forward to the challenge. I've been given enough tools this weekend to make smart decisions during competition."
The "Aïcha des Gazelles" is a highly respected rally raid in its 22nd year. An all-female sporting event lasting nine days, teams of two make their way through the Sahara Desert with only a compass, 20+ outdated maps, and a ruler. The rally adheres to strict environmental guidelines and focuses on humanitarian efforts through its partner non-profit, the Heart of Gazelles.
For more information about the rally Aïcha des Gazelles, please visit the official website at [ RALLYEAICHADESGAZELLES.COM ].
2012/01/26 | 18:43 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/KUHN/RALLY/MAIENGA