Rhonda Cahill and Rachelle Croft Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles – Day Three Update
Rhonda Cahill and Rachelle Croft
The super moms from Montana, who are a favorite with the other competitors, opted for route Y and made it to six checkpoints before having to turn around for the bivouac. While they made all the checkpoints in the dunes, the harder part came afterward where the flatter terrain proved more difficult. The navigator for the team and a first time Gazelle, Cahill said, “I’m the nerdy student type and I studied all these maps and was practicing on the Montana terrain, trying to do the best I could, but its not the same until you are actually here doing it. You’ve got to get on the horse and ride.” Quick studies, look for the team to bounce back on Sunday.
Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles - Day Three Overview
Competitors could choose one of three routes through the dunes depending on desired difficulty. Once they chose their route, however, they had to stay committed to the route’s designated checkpoints. All routes included nine checkpoints total and five though the dunes. The easiest was route Z, which skirted around the dunes, but still crossed some of the smaller dunes at the bottom. Route Y zig-zagged through medium sized peaks. While the navigation was not particularly difficult, the terrain was more rugged and increased in difficulty as the day progressed. Finally, route X presented Gazelles with the steepest peaks. The coveted red flags, easily visible from the peaks at a distance of several hundred meters, proved difficult to reach. For many competitors, route X was not only difficult, but scary as peaks were sharp and steep.
The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is a grueling test of driving skill and navigation across southern Morocco’s most beautiful and challenging terrain. The rally is unique whereby teams are not allowed technological assistance. In the absence of GPS, communications and service crews, teams must find the shortest distance between the checkpoints over nine days of competition with only the aid of traditional navigation – compass, outdated maps, and plotters. The event is an incredible test of endurance, patience, and teamwork, pushing competitors to their limits.