Article by James Bergeron. Photos courtesy of Matt Waters and by James Bergeron.
In case you missed it we are going to Targa Newfoundland and I will be the co-driver / navigator for the event. One small problem though, I’ve never done a rally before, and I certainly have never been a navigator before. I was told, I better get some learning done because it’s a very important job.
When I agreed, I assumed being a navigator was pretty darn easy. You sit in the passenger seat and tell the driver if there is a right hand turning coming up or a left hand turn coming up, based on some notes that the rally organization gives you. Sounds like a piece of cake really – until I learned the real role of the navigator.
The first step was to ensure I had all the proper compliance papers to be a navigator in a rally. I needed a race license (check) and I needed proof that I had done first aid training, in case we came upon a car in front of us that crashed and needed medical attention. Things just got real! Off to school I went, I signed up for a first aid course put on by the Red Cross at a cost of a Saturday and $100 and after that I could check that one off my list of requirements as well.
Next was a crash course on navigating. I am lucky to have a good support group of racers in the Ottawa community, one of which has not only participated and won Targa Newfoundland but has literally written the course material for the rally school given by Targa Newfoundland. So I met with Mr. Evan Gamblin for an evening over adult beverages and he gave me a crash course on navigation and instilled in me that my driver will be dumb and that I basically am running the show – the driver drives, the navigator does pretty much everything else.
What does everything else entail? The key items are as follows: Ensure both the driver and navigator are ready in their cars on time, a rally is very time dependent, keep your driver focused and calm in stressful situations and know the rules of the rally as the navigator is also the one responsible for ensuring everything is in order with the car, the equipment and the conduct of the team. Again the driver does nothing but drive, that’s actually the easy part.