Down and dirty – 2013 Defender Trophy
In what is arguably the most respected 4x4 competition in South Africa, yet again, the 2013 Defender Trophy was a gruelling and challenging test of endurance and teamwork. Competitors pushed themselves and their Land Rovers to the limit for top honours, with some sneaky (and rewarding) surprises along the way.
The 2013 Land Rover Centurion Defender trophy was particularly challenging for participants. Held over the week of the 12 – 17 March in the treacherous terrain of Prynnsberg Estate in the Free State, the event held some surprises for the competitors, who had to dig deep in order to overcome the rough and tough challenges. The competition’s decade anniversary follows a long legacy of Land Rover offroad competitions that have included such iconic events as the Camel Trophy and the Land Rover G4 Challenge. This exciting 10th anniversary challenge was a fitting celebration of the iconic Defender’s prowess and one of the most challenging for the hardened competitors. It was the team of Warren Vos and Peter Healey (Team Bairy Hollocks) that eventually took the Land Rover Centurion Defender Trophy honours. They landed themselves the ultimate first prize of a Defender 90. Clearly, the prize was enough motivation for Vos and Healy who displayed a masterful approach, and their experience and teamwork ultimately gave them the edge over their competitors. Team Bairy Hollocks showed wholehearted determination and consistently displayed allround Defender skills to snatch the 10th title from the brothers Rob and Mike Eriksen-Miller (Two Brothers and a Landy) and Trevor Stiebel and James van Onselen (Team Oupoot), who came in second and third respectively. The historical Prynnsberg Estate, owned by Rick Melvill of Melvill and Moon fame, is situated just a couple of kilometres from the town of Clocolan. The location provided a central point for the five-day event and some of the most gruelling driving conditions ever seen. The constant rain created a further twist, testing drivers in the mud. Teams pitted their skills not only against the Free State countryside, but against each other. The stakes were the highest they have ever been. The competition attracted some of the best off-road drivers in the country and having a Land Rover Defender 90 (from Land Rover Centurion) as the prize definitely upped the ante. The Hella Night Challenge was perhaps the most taxing stage, testing the team’s communication skills, night vision ability and technical driving skills while traversing rocky and arduous terrain. The teamwork activities extended to floating a replica Land Rover Defender across a dam, crossing a mud gully and navigating through another gully. The driving challenges within time trials included winching, general extreme off-road driving, raft building, puzzle-solving, and removing and refitting a side shaft on a Land Rover. It all came down to those displaying the greatest skills within the best team dynamics. Ending off the special event was a surprise appearance at the prize-giving by intrepid explorer and avid Land Rover ambassador, Kingsley Holgate. He enthralled competitors with tales of derring-do and humanitarian work throughout Africa. The Defender Trophy is not all about blood, sweat and tears. In true Land Rover style, responsibility towards the environment remains a high priority, as does giving back to the local community. The sponsors handed over R20 000 in financial support of the Klok-In Old Age Home based in Clocolan.
The winning duo, Warren Vos and Peter Healey (team Bairy Hollocks) showed that they had the balls to win the Defender Trophy.