Postal Championship

Championship: The Route So Far

How the Championship came into being and a summary of results up to 1996.

The Championship finally saw the light of day in mid 1987 with the PATHFINDER, but the story really goes back quite a long way...

There were a small number of very well organised table-top rallies being run on a National basis but all totally independent of each other. There was virtually no communication between fellow-organisers and the only 'rule' of the day seemed to be - 'don't clash with dates!'. Each seemed very protective of their own empires and advertising one another's events was unheard of, even the mailing lists were a closely guarded secret.

In 1976 Pegasus Motor Club from Bristol started it's PEGASUS National Table-Top but around 1984 the club was swallowed up by Tavern Motor Club but the TT still kept the PEGASUS name. Cheltenham Motor Club instigated their PATHFINDER in 1979 and CSMA NE London followed in 1981 with the NELLY.

The NELLY departed from what, up to now, had been a traditional format - that of marking your route on the OS map which then had to be sent to the organisers for marking and returned later together with the results and solutions. CSMA adopted a question and answer format which cut down on the post-event workload - a system still used to this day.

There is also some grapevine information that NatWest Bank MC ran an event but details are almost non-existent. Eastern Counties Motor Club (Ipswich area) joined the fray in 1985 with the LANGER PARK and straight away, the newcomer's organisers were writing to the other co-organisers with the National Championship idea. Initial reactions were cool but undeterred the idea continued to get persistent pushing until finally, for the first time ever, all organisers were around the same table in November 1986.

So, with some considerable graft during the following months the Championship's first season opened in September, 1987 with the PATHFINDER. At roughly bi-monthly intervals it was followed by the NELLY, LANGER PARK and PEGASUS. A staggering 911 entries had been logged over the four events - still a record, and Martin Rea took the inaugural title.

The 1988/89 season dawned boasting five rounds - the RALLY ROUND promoted by West Essex CC having been added to the original four. The RALLY ROUND had been instigated in early 1987 based upon the board game of the same name, but reverted to a conventional OS map in it's second year prior to gaining Championship status. The season now stretched from September to May with entries totalling 774. Martin Rea collected his second successive title.

1989/90 once again had the same five events on offer but the Championship had now gained some recognition and was able to boast sponsorship from Rally Navigation Services - suppliers of maps and an assortment of other navigational equipment. RNS had already been linked with sponsorship deals with the NELLY and LANGER Park for over two years but this was an important expansion for all parties. In the process of Martin Rea making it three in a row the events generated 680 entries.

The 1990/91 season started like the preceding one with continued sponsorship from RNS and five events on offer. However, during the course of the season, one of the PEGASUS organisers withdrew and the event was unable to take place, so a quick revision to the rules to accommodate one less event was needed. It almost goes without saying that Martin Rea's consistency gleaned a fourth successive title and entries for the season totalled 512.

PATHFINDER, NELLY, LANGER PARK and RALLY ROUND were the four rounds for '91/92 and '92/93 seasons. A slight upturn in entries was encouraging with 553 and 527 respectively. '91/92 once again saw Martin Rea crowned champion but this was to be his last to date. The mantle for '92/93 was in the hands of Roger Lintott and proved encouraging to the other competitors that each year's title was not a forgone conclusion.

Change was forced upon the Championship organisers for the '93/94 season as the RALLY ROUND team were unable to commit the amount of time necessary so rather than put on a sub-standard event the CULTIVATOR promoted by CSMA Ipswich Group was brought into the frame. The CULTIVATOR was certainly no newcomer as it had enjoyed considerable success as a closed to CSMA membership event for some fifteen years. It's format has mirrored NELLY's question and answer system throughout that time. So we now had two map-marking and two question/answer format events to evenly represent the systems. Both have their critics but at least neither was favoured. Once again entries took a dive with 468 taking part as the recession continued to bite at the pocket. However, one piece of innovation came out of the season - the LANGER PARK introduced a 'Roadbook' incorporating A4 map sections and corresponding route instructions in a booklet. It seemed a natural progression as they'd supplied the relevant OS map to competitors as part of a consolidated entry fee for some five years. It certainly revolutionised table-top rallies but some competitors still preferred the full map. Another new champion was crowned - Colin Hensman from St Albans.

In recognition of the loyalty from quite a few people consistently competing over the years and yet never winning a Championship award the organisers decided to award a free entry to each event in the coming season to the person not finishing in the top ten in the preceding three years - in 1993/94 this went to Don Clarke with John Boother and John Perthen runners-up winning a free entry to one event of their choice.

So to '94/95...a total of 414 competitors entered the same four events and after a close fought battle Roger Lintott regained the National crown. Colin Hensman's 6th place on the PATHFINDER was his undoing because despite winning both CSMA events he was overtaken by Roger's consistency of top placings on all counting rounds guaranteeing him the title. The main loyalty award went to Tony Preston with "Crow" and Gillian Goodlass runners-up.

Another new name was added to the Championship shield following the 1995/96 season. Malcolm Price finally reached the top of the tree after some exceptional consistency over the nine years that the Championship has operated. Top loyalty award was won by Alan Crabtree with Donald Bradbury and Godfrey Nunn filling the runner-up slots. Yet again entries fell away with 384 taking part in the four events - PATHFINDER, NELLY, LANGER PARK and CULTIVATOR.

So here's to 1996/1997!