29 MARCH 2014: The ceremonial finish of the 24th Rallye Aicha des Gazelles began at 8 o’clock this morning under heavy skies. A celebratory feeling filled the air as the teams set out to drive the final 3 kilometer stretch along the beach of this picturesque coastal town. Local residents joined the friends and families of teams, lining the waterfront to watch the procession and cheer the teams on. Photos, videos, dancing, hugs, jokes and bursts of laughter mingled with the honking of horns.
In the distance, a promising ray of sunlight shone on the red flags marking the “finish” line. With the rising tide, the rally came to a close as the teams passed through the honour guard and on their way to the afternoon awards ceremony in the old town of Essaouira.
The final ceremony was held in an immense marquee tent set up at the edge of the Essaouira Medina, where the Gazelles made their way along the red carpet, cheered and applauded by the blue and red vests who were there by their sides throughout the 9 days of competition. Rally founder, Dominique Serra was speaking to the crowd, “Let’s hear a round of applause for these men and women who have helped, supported and encouraged you throughout this Rallye!”
Now the Gazelles’ cheered for the staff who made it all possible. Then Serra began calling the teams to the stage to receive the iconic Gazelle trophy presented to everyone who completed the event. “Once a Gazelle, always a Gazelle!!” cried the announcer, an accolade symbolic of their victory over the desert.
Finally, the winners of each class are called up to receive their trophies to an accompaniment of thunderous applause. And with that the 2014 edition of the Rally Aicha des Gazelles was over. The teams could look forward to next year, but first there is the evening gala and the long journey back home…
Gazelles TV reports on the official end of the rally on the beach at Essaouira. [Sorry for the obligatory advertisement at the start of this clip, it comes as part of the embedded resource, not our site.]
M6 highlights the arrival of the Gazelles in Essaouira. [Sorry for the obligatory advertisement at the start of this clip, it comes as part of the embedded resource, not our site.]
Team 171 USnomads completed the 24th edition of the Rally Aicha des Gazelles with a total “penalty” of 2226.24 overall (the value of the missed CPs plus the extra kilometers driven over the “ideal” course). The team ranked 59th among First-time Participants and 100th overall in the final standings.
Here’s the top ten 4×4 teams in the final overall ranking:
WHERE WE ARE
ABOUT TODAY’S COURSE
Each year, the beach in Essaouira becomes the stage for a show that has become an event not to be missed: the official finish of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc. An emotional moment when the Gazelles, organizers, guests, officials and supporters come together and celebrate the official arrival of the teams! The arrival is open to the public; supporters should be on the beach in Essaouira, across from the Sofitel Mogador, at 9:00, sharp! The day will end with a gala evening and then all the Gazelles start on their way home.
Team USnomads is proud to support the work of MothersToMothers, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that recognizes the ability of mothers to change their destiny. MothersToMothers, founded by Pamela Parlapiano, partners with local women to create community supported day care and learning centers that change lives. Their model project in Amacho Wato Kebele, Ethiopia, has shown how with just a little help, the mothers in the community can improve the lives of a whole village. Please join us in supporting their efforts to take this successful model to more villages: Donate to MothersToMothers here. (Note that all donations go 100% directly to MothersToMothers).
TEAM 171 PRESENTATION
USnomads, c’est l’histoire d’une amitié de plus de 20 ans, qui s’est construite à travers le temps, les cultures, les expériences de la vie et des voyages. Seule l’union de deux caractères forts et respectueux l’un de l’autre explique que nous soyons arrivées à nos fins dans chacun de nos défis.
Ceci est notre première participation au Rallye des gazelles et nous ne sommes pas des professionels, mais JoMarie a une certaine expérience de l’Afrique et des situations d’urgence. D’autre part, elle s’est totalement investie dans la préparation de cette course et Isabelle s’est récemment mise à la navigation.
Le Rallye des gazelles dans le désert marocain sera le théâtre d’une nouvelle épreuve pour nous : une Jeep, une boussole, une carte et tout le pouvoir de notre volonté d’y parvenir fera le reste.
Ce défi sportif s’inscrit dans un projet humain plus large, celui de traverser le désert du Sahara d’Ouest en Est dans l’espoir d’accompagner les équipes d’ONG dans leurs micro-projets d’aide aux peuplades nomades locales. JoMarie en produira un film documentaire qui donnera à mieux connaitre les hommes de cette partie du monde.
L’équipe 171 prendra fièrement son envol le 15 mars 2014 avec toutes les autres participantes ! Et que les meilleures gagnent !
Mais quelle valeur et quelle portée aurait cette leçon de vie, si nous n’étions pas soutenues par l’amour de nos proches, de nos amis et de tous ceux qui nous entourent. Merci !
Detailed weather: Errachida
MORE NOTES FROM THE ROAD:
28 March – To Essaouira
27 March – Leg 6: Foum Zguid South
26 March – Leg 5: 2nd Marathon Day 2
25 March – Leg 5: 2nd Marathon Day 1
24 March – Leg 4: 1st Marathon Day 2
23 March – Leg 4: 1st Marathon Day 1
22 March – Leg 3: Merzouga
21 March – Leg 2: Nejakh North
20 March – Leg 1: Nejakh South
19 March – Prologue
18 March – To Erfoud
17 March – Ferry to Tangiers
16 March – To Barcelona
15 March – Paris Presentation
14 March – Technical Verification day
8 to 13 Mar 2014 – Paris: Preparations
ABOUT THE RACE
The Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, a grueling nine-day off-road race across the Moroccan sahara, is one of the toughest motorsport events in the world. Using only a map and compass to navigate (GPS or electronic navigational aids are NOT allowed), the two-women teams must reach a series of checkpoints spread over the harshest desert terrain. The competition is a challenge of endurance and strategy, as teams must decide whether to go over obstacles or around them in an effort to complete the course with the least possible mileage. The winners are the team that reaches all the checkpoints via the shortest total distance. Learn more about the race…
> Team US Nomads is training hard to face the challenges of a Sahara crossing like no other. The first step in their journey is the 2014 Rally Aicha des Gazelles. Find out more about the team and their inspiration …
> A true test of endurance, the Gazelle rally pushes teams to their limits in a struggle to overcome the harshest terrain in the Moroccan Sahara. The key to success is a seamless combination of off-road driving abiility, land navigation skills and strategic thinking. Learn more about this unique race …
> Team US Nomads is working to connect people across borders and cultures in a true exchange. This includes a series of humanitarian efforts to assist communities in the region undertaken with the rally organization and other NGO partners. Discover how we are doing good as we go …
> Team US Nomads needs your support. Whether you represent a corporate organization interested in sponsoring the team, a humanitarian group that would like to find out more about working with us in the Sahara, or if you would just like to follow along with the adventure, we want to hear from you. Find out how to get involved …