4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
J33P Winch Challenge
Wellington, 19th/20th Sep 09
Words by Mike Cuff, Pictures by Angela Royston and David Bowyer

Around November 08, approximately a month after the second J33P Culmhead Challenge I was starting to look at the J33P 2009 event calendar, one of the questions I was asking myself was whether to run the event for a third time? Yes, I’d received very positive feedback. However did I really want to worry about making the numbers yet again? A question I know a lot of event organisers ask themselves. After a lot of umming and arring and some virtual arm twisting via email I decided yes, I’d give it ago and hence asked James Trembath of 4x4 Adventures Ltd to do the honours again. A good move as it turned out!

This year James pushed the boat out, competitors had more to do, three sites to explore and three special stages. Site 1, Culmhead Island, was used on Saturday, it contained 40 punches and the special stage sections, sites 2 and 3, Widecombe Moor and the Quarry were used on Sunday, these sites containing a combined total of 30 punches. Some of the punches being drivable, some requiring winching, some requiring thought and some requiring a co-driver who was prepared to wade around in some VERY gooey stuff. I know it was VERY gooey, because Saturday night, whilst on foot helping James take down the punches I strayed into it, based on some laws of physics I managed to make it three feet before sinking over my knees – looking at my co-driver Sam for a hand, there he is with is camera phone hoping for a head first dive shot – luckily he was disappointed – apparently he was thinking of “drivers do the stupidest thing” award!

When I originally instigated the J33P Culmhead Challenge, although a competitive event, my idea was for an event that would provide the perfect opportunity for club members who have not participated in a Challenge event before to “have a go” in a relaxed manner and to meet up and see the more experienced folks in action. Something I believe that was again achieved this year, we had a wide range of vehicles and driver/co-driver experience levels, including several novices, one of whom won their class, well done Jeroen, taking third place overall. As in previous years we had three classes. However to try and be as fair as possible this time class position was dictated by a points system, a scheme that proved popular – the only criticism being I’d not accounted for tyre size.

Class 1 = 0 to 2 points
Class 2 = 2 1/2 points to 4 1/2 points
Class 3 = 5 or more points

Agressive MT tyres (Simex and alike) = +1
Front winch = +1
Middle winch = +1
Rear winch = +1
External (I don't care) cage / Non-original silhouette = +1
Front soft locker (tru-trac) = +1/2
Rear soft locker (tru-trac) = +1/2
Front hard locker (arb/detroit etc) = +1
Rear hard locker (arb/detroit etc) = +1

Although we only had 15 competitors (the same as 2008 and 2009) we had a wide cross section of vehicle marquees (including a 1948 CJ2A Jeep) that were equally distributed across the three classes so everybody had someone of equal standing to compete and judge themselves against. Don’t ask me why 15, maybe it’s the club’s magic number, here’s hoping we will make 20+ in 2010! For the record, Stew Oakes and Dave Birchall travelled over 550 miles (round trip) to take part. Not wanting to bore you with my prose style, I’m going to hand you over to Charles Bishop (aka Bish) to describe his weekend... Having marshalled at previous years events, I knew that the J33P two day Culmhead Challenge would be great fun and I was not disappointed. Despite (or is that inspite!) of the rivalry between brands there was a great atmosphere all weekend and the J33P club made everyone welcome and laid on a cracking BBQ on Saturday night.

As has become de rigueur at J33P events, the weather was superb all weekend with clear skies and sunshine from start to finish. The event took the form of a typical Punch Challenge and had been laid out with the emphasis of fun and enjoyment rather than the “full on” style of other events. The punches were very well thought out and there was plenty for all abilities to tackle. This resulted in a very relaxed weekend with “competitors” having plenty of time to stop and chat and help each other out of tricky situations.

For a bit of variety, three special stages were laid on over the weekend – one on the Saturday morning and two night stages. For me, these were the highlight of the weekend. Turning up at special stage one we discovered we were first to attempt it. The brief – cross four logs laid out in the field without your vehicle touching them against the clock…. Hmmm…. Cryptic maybe…? Nope, as it says – you had to cross the logs without touching them with any part of the truck using whatever you had with you on the vehicle. After a few minutes head scratching the penny dropped and we understood what we had to do! Unfortunately, we didn’t have a tarpaulin in the truck so made do with waffles. Well, you have to keep the co-driver busy don’t you!

Special stages two and three were night stages. Stage two involved collecting 5 punches in the shortest time and stage 3 was “simply” a drive around a taped course in the woods against the clock. We were allowed to inspect the course and find the punches in daylight and then plan the order we would attempt to collect them. Typically, half an hour of wandering around making intricate plans were abandoned two minutes before we started – another team had completed the stage in two minutes (we had estimated it would take 20!) and they gave us a few hints. Good advice – despite a slight delay due to traffic on one punch we collected the 5 punches in a little over 12 minutes. Stage three was a blast through the woods as quick as you dared. Being a tight a twisty route with plenty of climbs and descents through the trees there wasn’t much opportunity for comp safari speeds, but it was a big step up from the walking pace of challenge events! The adrenaline was really pumping by the end of that one! Great fun!

Sunday saw more punches at two different locations to Saturday and a marginal increase in difficulty and the weekend ended with prize giving with prizes for the winners of all classes and the overall winner.

A great event, well organised, well marshalled and I shall be back next year!

Being modest, Bish failed to mention that he won class 3, well done Bish and Mark. Talking of results, each class winner (driver and co-driver) received a limited edition J33P mug and the overall winner free entry to a future J33P event of their choice. Congratulations to:

Class results:
Class 1 - Jeroen Van Der Hooft and Sarah
Class 2 - David Webber and Mark Walford (aka Walfy)
Class 3 - Charles Bishop (aka Bish) and Mark O’Leary

Overall Results
1st David Webber
2nd Charles Bishop
3rd Jeroen Van D Hooft

As always thanks to James for setting up the event, the marshalls who freely give up their time, my fellow committee members, Angela Royston (organised Saturdays excellent BBQ), Chris McCollum and Kevin Williams. Kevin deserving a special word, he won the Spirit of the Event Award, a set of CJ7 Bushes kindly donated by Richard Fearn of Superpro. Kevin was nominated by various people, for providing alot of entertainment in his Willys Jeep and in recognition of his help in running this and other events - something Kevin has done for many years, both prior to and post becoming a J33P committe member.

If I’ve not yet persuaded club members to enter in 2010 (yes, I’ve decided to worry about making the numbers work again) some comments from other attendees.

Kevin Williams: Thankyou James for setting out such a excellent challenge. The specials were a lot of fun even with my night time co-drver screeming like a little girl all the way round, shame my V8 CJ whasn't ready for the night time speed special, the sound would have been great but I had Chris instead. Thankyou Geof and Chris for winch bitching for me, Geof was pulling double duty as his main driver was Cez. The lovely weather and mostly dry ground helped the class 1 runners do well, with Jeroen comming 3rd overall in a very std Land Rover 90, both Cez and I had credable scores with Cez's Series 111 and my Willys which are 30+ and 60 years old respectively. Again thanks to James, Mike and all the marshalls for a great weekend.

Tim Jones: Another excellent event both competitively and socially. Night stages were good, just how I like them. Punch layout was spot on, enough to think about and some Sunday drive casual drive by’s, so all happy. Thanks Mike and James, just as expected.

Cez Talor: Thanks to all that helped organise a fantastic event, Geoff and I had a great time, we enjoyed cruising around at our own pace catching the punches on the way. Punches were set just right, enough to make you think a little on some but not too outrageous, I hope some more regular J33P members think about attending this event next year, don’t be put off, James is good at setting punches for the type of vehicles attending as proven this weekend. These events although are more formal i.e scores, eta to stages, rules etc, are always a topic of conversation for us a long time after and I enjoyed something a little more thrilling! The Landy got a blast around special stage three and came out of the exit like it had a rocket up its . We did laugh and even Geoff was silent as we raced through the undergrowth, will have to do it more often for some peace!!!

Mark Walford: Excellent weekend. But nothing less than I expected from James/Mike. A fantastic job of setting it all up and for setting the course out. As for the weather it did get a bit warm from my point of view. Running around all day pulLing a rope behind me. The social side of this event is as important as the competition itself I think. Nice to get both LR and Jeeps playing together. This event is now established in the J33P calendar and just needs to grow in size. Which if this years event is anything is to go by you should all come along next year. Even if it's for the social or to marshal or take the mickey. As Bish said many thanks for the mugs. A nice matching pair in the trophy cabinet. Will be back next year to defend the class win.

Some pictures from the event