Meet Karen Makkink and her sister, Wilna du Toit – the only all-female team in the motorsport event, the Total Blind Navigators Rally.
The siblings have achieved great results, including 4th overall in the 2009 championships, and have been actively involved with the event, off and on the road, for over two years.
Fluent Braille-reading and excellent communication skills are just two of the important ways Wilna assists her sighted sister, Karen, during the rally. Wilna first discovered the Blind Navigators Rally in Bloemfontein 15 years ago; she eventually found the courage to join the team 30 months ago, and has never looked back.
“The Total Blind Navigators Rally has taught me that experience is something gained and not earned. Not only does the Total Blind Navigators Rally allow me to utilise my unique skills to empower me and my sister as a team, but participation in the rallies has also enriched my life since by travelling to areas I have never visited before,” adds Wilna.
The two sisters from Pretoria are extremely passionate about the motorsport event, both off and on the road, Karin is the secretary and Wilna is part of the management team for Blind Navigators Rally.
“We would like to thank Total South Africa for being an avid supporter of motorsport, and more importantly the Blind Navigators Rally, since the 1970s. Furthermore, we would love to see the sport recognised on a par with sighted rallies. Both Wilna and I aim to increase funding and overall awareness, to ensure optimum growth across the country for the Blind Navigators Rally,” says Karin.
In 2005, the Blind Navigators Series was reintroduced thanks to Total South Africa and Lions International, together with the South African Regularity Rally Association. In addition to regular Club drivers, the Lions provide drivers with vehicles while Total sponsors the series. Total’s sponsorship includes the provision of kits, equipment, car numbers, clothing and entry fees, enabling the series to run at the lowest possible cost to entrants while providing an empowering sport among disadvantaged people throughout the country.
Apart from the good coffee served at registration in the mornings, Karin finds that the adrenalin of the competition, as well as the ability to stay on track and the stress of finishing each rally on time, is what attracts her to the event. “Every race is filled with funny moments. Wilna even sings the instructions to me at times,” comments Karin.
“The event requires concentration, communication skills, excellent reading skills, mathematical skills and patience, but most of all it’s down to the personalities of the driver and navigator which enhance performance the most. If the driver and navigator do not get along, then they cannot partake successfully as a team.”
The next round of the Total Blind Navigators Series will be the Alfa Romeo Regulatory Rally on 26 June 2011, for further information visitwww.totalmotorsport.co.za