Raymarine equipment safely navigates UK drivers through Lisbon to Dakar Rally


They say that salt water is the toughest test of any product, but for some, taking marine navigation equipment across more than 8,600 kms of road, sand, pebbles and dunes, could be said to be the roughest endurance challenge ever devised. British racecar enthusiasts Paul Round and Martin Coulson have just completed the Euromilhoes Lisboa-Dakar 2007 using Raymarine’s navigation equipment to guide them quickly and safely from Portugal through Morocco, Mauritania, Mali to the finish line in Dakar, Senegal where the pair were the first British team to finish.

Raymarine equipped Coulson’s Desert Warrior car with a Raystar 125 GPS antenna on the roof, linking it into an ST60 graphic display unit fitted inside the vehicle. The graphic display was fine tuned to provide course over ground information, enabling driver Paul Round and navigator Martin Coulson to have up to the minute data on their current position, speed, course, route to take and distance to go.

The 29th Lisboa-Dakar rally started on 6th January, with 250 bikes, 187 cars and 88 trucks taking part. The course varies from previous years, giving competitors the choice between fast and technical sections of the route, contending with sand, mountains, corkscrew bends, savannah and baobab trees. Navigation skills are paramount, with the stages often extending for more than 600 kms, with little or no landmarks to follow on the off road sections and competitors having to navigate precisely the distances to given cap points.

Navigator Martin Coulson explains, “The Raymarine equipment gave us really clear and concise headings, which were plainly visible to both myself and the driver thanks to the large clear display screen. On the sections, we are given a final cap point, which is a bearing and the distance to travel, so we have to use the GPS to maintain the right route, even when navigating through sand dunes and around obstacles. Imagine going at 70 miles per hour, over sand dunes, at angles of up to 45 degrees, and only getting momentary vision of the route ahead, then you realise just how much we rely on fast and accurate route plotting to get on the right course.”

At the finish of this demanding race, which only 132 bikes, 109 cars and 59 trucks finished, Round and Coulson were ranked 92 overall and were the first British pair to finish in the car class. Martin concludes: “It really was the adventure of a lifetime and just finishing safely was an achievement in itself, let alone being the first Brits. I feel shaken to bits, and considering Raymarine kit is designed to float on the sea, it gets my vote for being indestructible!”