Water hazards

Doug Nye’s July story about Mike Spence’s Enna swimming trip brought back memories of a similar incident that befell me in 2011, during a regional cross-country race here in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. My car is a 2-litre rear-wheel-drive buggy, built with pipes and fully open to the elements.

During qualifying, the route turned onto a dam wall but was not properly cautioned and the grass track was damp. My car plunged into the water and nobody saw it happen. Fortunately it stayed upright but the ‘water’ in the dam was trade effluent from a nearby sugar mill, with zero visibility.

I unclipped the roof (the usual means of entry) and my full harness, then just launched myself upwards through the roof hatch, opening my visor as quickly as possible to get some air. I scrambled to the bank and said a quick prayer for my lucky escape. It took a massive tractor to pull the car out and a full three-month rebuild to repair it. Nowadays every pre-race briefing features the mandatory “Tony, watch out for the dam” comment, which is said in jest but has serious undertones. Tony Ball, Durban, South Africa 13