Issue 7: Berrow Buggies

Berrow 98 ‘Powerbreak’

Event Report by Steve Walt Webb

jumpbugWARNING ! What I’m about to say will be rather upsetting to anyone who arrived on Thursday, or; for the final weekend. During the first 4 days of the week, the wind Blew Like Stink !!! (I’m sorry but it just had to be said !) It blew from morning to night, at 20-35mph, putting strain on equipment, and buggy crew alike. People flew, (an “out of buggy” experience) lines snapped, kites disintegrated, and buggies bent; but wasn’t it………………. marvellous!!!! Everyone put in screeeming speeds on the ‘gun’ runs, with Mark Kingshot squeezing 52 mph out of a 24 mph breeze with Predator Power. Mike Shaw kept getting 51 mph, with his Peel; a few others managed to hit 50 mph’s, with loads of high 40 mph’s and even I managed to keep straight long enough, to clock 40 mph with my Mirage 2m. The Safaris to the Lighthouse were fast; cruising at 30-35 mph was no problem, but the tack back was a bit of a “holiday route”. Garry Box and I made a number of runs there, and as the wind changed direction during the 4 days, the return runs certainly speeded up. (Bandits at two o’clock, look out Red Leader!) Approx 209 crew registered during the week keeping Mike Shaw, Ian Meridith, and Mad John busy all day. With Chris Croft on his new PA (Ooophs we’ve blown a resistor? Nice one, Bill), you knew there was no hiding place!! Sedgmore Council helped build the sandhump, which soon prompted a bit of buggy jumping. Mike Shaw got some damn good photos in the local paper. I also played at being a Harrier jumpbuggy, and here’s a photo to prove it!

The Embelle Marquee played host to some cunningly wicked evenings. Mike and Ian must spend hours looking through old Tiswas, It’s a knockout, Endurance videos, to come up with: The Dry Food Competition, (this has become a Berrow Classic), The Fishing Game (Who the hell came up with this one?), and my favourite, The Foot of Ale = 1 pint. (I downed it in 18.34 secs, and came 5th.) Ian Meredith was determined to win this, but Garry Box snook in with 12.5 secs, a masterful performance. Due to a change in the Health and Safety regulations, that old favourite, “How Many Folks Can You Get in the Rubbish Skip”, could not take place. (Well, you can’t win them all, eh!)

Fun and Games Galore

The Seagull Club nights are always good for a laugh, as much for seeing the expressions on the faces of the unsuspecting public, who must be wondering what the hell is going on!! The Embelle Marquee, upstaged the world when little Michael (What long legs you’ve got Dan) burst upon us, with his four bro’s, (aka Guess who, Mike, Ian, Mad John and, yes I couldn’t sus who it was, Wayne (you little minstrel you)  Knowing how Ian plans ahead, I reckon as a young lad he decided to keep some clothes back in July 1973, just in case, you know!  Yep! The 70’s theme night certainly was an eye opener, Piers?????? Thursday arrived, and so did the sun. Hurrah! We all needed the rest. To tell the truth we were knackered! We had time to expose our aching bodies, to those naughty UV Rays (a rare sight this year). Sit around and chat, without getting sand blown in to every orifice, and generally repair anything that was repairable. (Many thanks to Roy Menage, who helped me fix my Mirage.) I also used the time to get a Sandsnatcher fitted. (Hello Dave and Annie.) Little did I know how invaluable a purchase this would be, until I competed in the “The Last Gasp” 4 Hr Enduro at Pembray.

Friday was just dull, miserable and yucky, but Saturday was another scorcher, with even less wind. (Bang goes the Mass Buggy Race.) I can’t remember if the sand castle contest was on the Thur or Sat? Anyway a lot of effort went into it, loved the Alien on the mountain board, stunning Indian Fighter, fabulous Lost in Space (choke), so how the hell did Chris Lamb, Mark Kingshot, Peter Mirkovic and gang manage to win with their puny effort??????????? Even Diane isn’t sure, and she was judging!

Saturday night’s Auction went off rather well, with Mike and Ian having the audacity (I told you Ian hoards weird things) to auction the last three years’ Slow-Bo Awards. This genuine Berrow paraphernalia is destined to become tomorrow’s buggy antique!!!! Bob Cruickshanks must really have a sweet tooth!

I booked up for next year before we left, and so, I noticed, did quite a few others. That says it all. Berrow, the best week on a beach!!

Steve Walt Webb

Pembray

Stevjum_smallIt was 12.3O p.m. when the Marquee came into view, it was still raining, the wind was blowing a gale, and a bedraggled encampment hugged the tree line for shelter. I squeezed through the canvas, and bumped into Garry Box, Gary Neal, Roger Aidridge and James Bromley.

I tried to cheer them up with a weather report of no rain by 3.OO p.m. (Incredulous faces!)

The wind was really gusting, with parts of the Marquee flapping loudly. I checked in with Mike Johnson, had a bit of a chat with Chris Croft, then decided to have a drink and some food with Gary and Roger.

The rain had more or less stopped when Mike Johnson announced at 1.3O p.m. to meet on the beach at 3.OO p.m. If we could race we would.

How fast can you go in 80 mph wind?

I called in at Chris Sands’ caravan, where I was made most welcome. Had a coffee and a chat with Chris, and we all watched Chris Croft having a sleep! (It’s amazing what you’ll do when the weather’s lousy!!) I had already decided not to risk damaging any equipment today, as I was determined to compete in the 4 hr Enduro on Sunday. By now I was eager to see the famous Pembray beach. Amazing tales of the conditions, were not exaggerated. I fought my way up the road, through a sand blizzard and onto the beach. Hell’s Bells the wind was a’blowin. A few ever-optimistic souls dragged their buggies onto what looked like a shallow lake! A group of us, lent into the wind, it was obvious that no racing could take place. The gale was measured at 80mph !!!

Mind you, us buggy folk rise to a challenge, (don’t look at me), but Andy Sands, Gary Neal, and Roger Aldridge, to name a few just couldn’t pass up the chance.

To add to the excitement, as if we needed any more, the Army/Navy Bomb Squad were called in by the Park Rangers to blow up a training unexploded bomb, washed up onto the beach by the gales. Considering the wind strength, and us being at least a mile away, it went up with a bit of a wallop. Rather fitting I thought!

As I drove back to the camping area, I decided not to pitch my tent, but to kip in the car (one of my better decisions, it turned out).

Considering the conditions, there was an amazing number of Europeans present. A big German contingent, French, and Italians.(If I’ve missed any nationalities out, drop me a line).

At around 7.OO p.m. a group of us set off to the pub. We headed back to camp at around 9.3O p.m. “I can’t see any lights on in the Marquee,” someone said. “I can’t see the Marquee,” I joked. Well, we couldn’t see it because it wasn’t there. (The story goes:  Big gust, the place was a wreck, no one hurt!)

As we walked around searching the area for life, shouts from the woods led us towards a strange bright light, only to find everyone in a brick tunnel with a roaring smoky fire, listening to Chris Croft’s PA belting out freaky music. It was like a scene from a Post Apocalyptical Art house movie???

Chris and I scrambled out of the smoke, and ended up sitting on the bank above the Tunnel entrance. The wind blew through the trees, as they swayed alarmingly. The stars dotted the blackened sky, and Chris and I played, guess which episode of the X-Files this most reminded us of??

It was a heck of a windy night, but Sunday morning was sunny, even pleasant, and the wind was only blowing at 30 mph. Chris Sands puts on a breakfast that makes you proud to be British. (It seems I arrived a smidge too early, as I was verbally abused by the slumbering occupants.) Yep! Chris is a wizard when it comes to breakfasts, just what you need when you are preparing for 4 gruelling hours.

Just getting to the Start line was an achievement in itself! Rather than risking a kite launch here, I walked the 1.5 miles to the rocks, into a 30 mph headwind. I was blooming knackered before I’d even started!!

Just as I arrived, Bill Andrews sounded the 15 min hooter. I struggled to set up my kite. “Oh no! What’s wrong with the brake lines?” My kite was doing a Cha -Cha all over the beach. “Just what I need!”  The Start hooter sounded. Some kind soul sat on my kite till I sorted out the mess, adjusted the lines, and finally launched and set off 15 min late.

I headed off upwind with the brake lines still too long, so, to get max power I had to apply brake all the time. (In a 30 mph wind, with an upwind leg, this was going to hurt!)

You got a great view of the coastline tacking up to the mark, and the run back to the gate was weird; it felt just like the wind had stopped. I made one other 15 min stop, after 3 laps, to adjust the brakes again. Then I slogged on until the end. The first 2 hrs were great, I started singing to myself during the 3rd hr, then progressed to talking to myself, during the 4th hr (always a worrying sign, so the survival manuals say???), to try and overcome the discomfort of the numbness in my feet and hands.

As I pulled into the assembly area, all I wanted to do was have an easy landing. I was to numb for another Cha-Cha! Safely down, I wandered over to James Bromley. “Well done Steve; you made it !” “Ta! James,” I replied, as I tried to stand on blocks of ice which had previously been my feet!! It was a great feeling though, to have survived, given the wind conditions!! The rest of me was fine. I was wearing a waterproof all-in-one suit, and I was dry and warm, but (and this is a big BUT), not expecting such a wet beach, my boots were not really waterproof. (Big mistake, BIG mistake!) The wind chill on my very wet boots, well you know the rest!

Also gloves, mine had Thinsulate insulation and were windproof. My real problem was having to fly with constant brake on. This, combined with the cold wind, affected my hands. I had feeling back after 2 hrs, so it wasn’t so bad.

We changed, chatted, and waited for the results in the car park, in the fading light. I managed 9 laps, (1 lap = 4 miles as the crow flies) which for my first time, well, I wanted to get 10 laps but what the heck!

Chris Croft came 1st, with 20 laps, but it was a close thing. Bill had to check, and double check, finally deciding on the fastest lap time to decide the winner! Chris’s fastest lap 1O min 34 secs.

Look out Chris!! I’ll be back!!

Steve Walt ( Rookie) Webb