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Old 9th July 2010, 14:01   #1
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Default Offroad Spotting Techniques

In any given OTR, there are MORE spotters than drivers. All of us, as drivers (and spotters also), at some point or the other would have heard something similar to this:

"Left...left.., go back... turn the steering... turn the other way... your left... watch that rock... nooo noooo.... back out... ooohhhhhhhhhh..."

All, at once, while you have no clue to where your tyre is pointed & where the trail is. The problem is that you can never listen to all these instructions at once and if you do, then you are bound to get yourself & the vehicle into some seriously awkward situation

So, let's compile the good, the bad & ugly ways of spotting, the driver responsibilities (towards spotting), the spotters responsibilities etc.

Let's answer questions like:
  • Should we volunteer to spot (out of kindness, eagerness, enthusiasm etc etc..) or should it be the driver who should ask to be spotted?
  • How many people should spot? One, two or the whole junta?
  • Should we shout "left/right... no.. no.. your left/right" OR should we use visual means of spotting using our hands? What are the various hand signals to use?
  • Should anybody/everybody do spotting -- including off-road tourists/newbees?
  • Is spotting an art/skill that comes from offroad driving experience??
  • Should people realize that spotters have to be experienced drivers who understand the 'intricacies' of off-roading, vehicle behavior, terrain condition and driver capabilities.
  • Should the driver trust the spotter -- blindly?
And many many more questions, observations around the art of off-road spotting.

Last edited by khan_sultan : 9th July 2010 at 14:05.
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Old 9th July 2010, 14:20   #2
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Oh, I thought this was like the TBHP sticker spotting thread, and how to acknowledge a fellow tbhpian on an OTR. .
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Old 9th July 2010, 14:26   #3
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Excellent.
From inside the vehicle i am always confused as to whose left/right i have to turn. His or mine. I think gestures would be more apt than words. Amongst a group of spotters, i always look for familiar faces to trust.

In my view an experienced offroader makes an good spotter as he can judge the terrain and the vehicle better than a newbie.

I am all ears and eyes.

Regards,
krishna.
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Old 9th July 2010, 14:28   #4
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My take on this:
Should we volunteer to spot (out of kindness, eagerness, enthusiasm etc etc..) or should it be the driver who should ask to be spotted?

Its a drivers call, but driver should be open to the idea of having a spotter if he finds himself in confusing situation. Many times, the scene from inside can be quite calm whereas from outside, leading to big time trouble. So if you really don't have a clear idea, ask for a spotter.

How many people should spot? One, two or the whole junta?

Ideally 1 or 2 max.

Should we shout "left/right... no.. no.. your left/right" OR should we use visual means of spotting using our hands? What are the various hand signals to use?

Visual signals anyday, most of the times both sides gets confused with the sides (L/R etc). Basic ones i use, Left, Right, Stop, Reverse, Forward, Rip it! or take it smooth.

Should anybody/everybody do spotting -- including off-road tourists/newbees?

BIG NO!

Is spotting an art/skill that comes from offroad driving experience??

It definitely is a skill coz it can be learned, but some make it work so beautiful that i can term it as art.

Should people realize that spotters have to be experienced drivers who understand the 'intricacies' of off-roading, vehicle behavior, terrain condition and driver capabilities.

Yes and experienced offroader spotting anyday for me, but then again he should be able to guide you more than intimidate. I had an experience where the spotters freaked out a newb in one of the BLR otr, that he was about to make stupid mistake, inspite of being guided by the best. Later when he calmed down, he took the obstacle like an expert would.

I prefer explaining gently by walking to the driver/vehicle and guiding the driver with his windshield view of the track before the actual attempt or spotting. Then the actual communication while driving is smooth and minimal errors/shouting etc.


Should the driver trust the spotter -- blindly?

Yes to a great extent, if you don't have the trust, you are bound to deviate and do your own thing and the whole point of spotting goes moot! If you are loosing trust just stop, get down and see for yourself, most often you will regain the trust.

I "trust" Khan for spotting in totality, esp when am driving his vehicle Analyze this sentence now!
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Old 9th July 2010, 14:38   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khan_sultan View Post
In any given OTR, there are MORE spotters than drivers. All of us, as drivers (and spotters also), at some point or the other would have heard something similar to this:

"Left...left.., go back... turn the steering... turn the other way... your left... watch that rock... nooo noooo.... back out... ooohhhhhhhhhh..."

All, at once, while you have no clue to where your tyre is pointed & where the trail is. The problem is that you can never listen to all these instructions at once and if you do, then you are bound to get yourself & the vehicle into some seriously awkward situation

So, let's compile the good, the bad & ugly ways of spotting, the driver responsibilities (towards spotting), the spotters responsibilities etc.
Excellent Topic. I love it how after every major OTR, new interesting threads come up and we can all learn from mistakes.


Quote:
  • Should we volunteer to spot (out of kindness, eagerness, enthusiasm etc etc..) or should it be the driver who should ask to be spotted?
If there are many people around already spotting, i would not say anything unless the driver asks. Only if i think something dangerous may happen, i step in, tell the driver to stop, inspect the terrain again and then decide his next course of action.

Quote:
  • How many people should spot? One, two or the whole junta?
Ideally one. Or maybe two if the spotter can't stand in front of the vehicle and spotting needs to be done on left and right sides. And three only if the vehicle needs to back up as well.

Quote:
  • Should we shout "left/right... no.. no.. your left/right" OR should we use visual means of spotting using our hands? What are the various hand signals to use?
Hand signals are the best IMO. Best is to stretch the hands out like the traffic policeman.

Quote:
  • Should anybody/everybody do spotting -- including off-road tourists/newbees?
NO. What i have noticed is that newbies are too eager to spot / &/or please. I have rarely seen experienced guys jump into the bandwagon if there are already too many spotters. Ideally, a newbie spotter should be accompanied by a pro and the driver should know about it. If the newbie spotter is making a mistake, the pro should immediately step in and warn the driver (who needs to concentrate on both of them).

Quote:
  • Is spotting an art/skill that comes from offroad driving experience??
I would say yes.

Quote:
  • Should people realize that spotters have to be experienced drivers who understand the 'intricacies' of off-roading, vehicle behavior, terrain condition and driver capabilities.
Yes. But i only spot for Jeeps. I am not well versed with gypsies so i leave that to gypsy drivers to spot. I think that you should spot of vehicles that you know about. I only spot for other vehicles when i'm hundred percent sure of what will happen / or not happen.

Quote:
  • Should the driver trust the spotter -- blindly?
Yes and no. Always walk the terrain. After that you trust your spotter. This trust is important when a correction is required which makes you deviate from the path you have already walked upon.
Again this spotter relationship comes after many otrs that you and the spotter have done together. I have started to trust allan and devang now completely and many times i do not walk the terrain completely, HOWEVER, i still get down and see the descent for myself.

Quote:
And many many more questions, observations around the art of off-road spotting.
I'll add more in due course. There are a lot of points that i want to make in this thread.
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Old 9th July 2010, 14:41   #6
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Another thing i want to add which i think is very important (and thus, a separate post):

The spotter should also realize who is driving the vehicle. How a newbie will take a certain approach is very difficult from how a pro will take that same approach. Thus, the spotter must keep in mind who is behind the wheel.

When in doubt about the driver's experience, always treat him as a newbie.
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Old 9th July 2010, 15:22   #7
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Dear Jaggu - this is an excellent thread. The way we are going and the amount of genuine information that we are exchanging and learning from each other, maybe the "great corporates" of our country could learn a thing or two from us. HaHaHa. ..

I have learnt that - DO WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO, DON'T DO ANYTHING ELSE".

I'll give my comments shortly.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 9th July 2010, 15:51   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khan_sultan View Post
  • Is spotting an art/skill that comes from offroad driving experience??
I feel - Yes. Unless anyone knows what a 4WD vehicle can do, he will mostly suggest in negative tone and will confuse the driver. A spotter needs to be mentally behind that particular vehicle and guide, else the suggestions will not be effective.

Most of time, my friends who have been to fewer OTR's and have not seen the full capability of a 4WD - scream at me and my jeep to stop from scrapping a diff/rubbing the GB cross member, etc etc, when the Jeep would have harmlessly crossed the obstable.
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Old 9th July 2010, 16:09   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khan_sultan View Post
And many many more questions, observations around the art of off-road spotting.
The underlined word in this one line says it all. Yes spotting is an art therefore only rely on whom you trust. A newbie with no offroad experience will not be able to spot if if spotting should be politely asked not to. Being in the vehicle as it goes over bumps, chasms, crevices, inclines, declines and angles is an experience which can be learnt practically only. Till one does not experience/feel it oneself, one does not know what it feels like. Therefore only an experienced off roader/driver will be able to spot correctly and safely.

Keep the posts coming guys!!
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Old 9th July 2010, 16:19   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by V-16 View Post
A newbie with no offroad experience will not be able to spot if if spotting should be politely asked not to.
I hope Jiggy didn't mind when I refused to accept his spotting help.
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Old 9th July 2010, 16:27   #11
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What I experienced in the just concluded OTR's was:

- newbies think that avoiding an obstacle with your wheels is better. They have no idea that the jeep will climb a rock. So they ask you to go over the rock with the wheels on either side.

Honestly just three things man:

1. If you see an experienced hand spotting, just shut up and take a step back. Dont clamber into the situation and offer more vocal dialogues. Drivers should also ask the people to all just zip their mouths. Its not about ego, but just so much BS happening at the same time, the human brain can only absorb so much.

2. People with zilch otr experience should just be kept behind a rope-line by the organisers. Nothing else will work.

3. And everyone watching stay calm. Meditate. Breathe deeply. No need to get aggravated and jump around like a chimpanzee. You will scare the driver even more and ensure he kills himself in the process.
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Old 9th July 2010, 18:32   #12
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+1.

Guys this is coming from the horse's mouth. I witnessed Venky almost having a nervous breakdown when this happened to him. Lolz.
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Old 10th July 2010, 11:21   #13
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Default Spot On

Quote:
Originally Posted by khan_sultan View Post
  • Should we volunteer to spot (out of kindness, eagerness, enthusiasm etc etc..) or should it be the driver who should ask to be spotted?
  • How many people should spot? One, two or the whole junta?
  • Should we shout "left/right... no.. no.. your left/right" OR should we use visual means of spotting using our hands? What are the various hand signals to use?
  • Should anybody/everybody do spotting -- including off-road tourists/newbees?
  • Is spotting an art/skill that comes from offroad driving experience??
  • Should people realize that spotters have to be experienced drivers who understand the 'intricacies' of off-roading, vehicle behavior, terrain condition and driver capabilities.
  • Should the driver trust the spotter -- blindly?
And many many more questions, observations around the art of off-road spotting.
Hi Shahnawaz,

I'll Answer by Points.

1) Better to volunteer and spot, before any "EVENTUALITIES" take place.
Its OK if the Driver decides to do something else.

2) 1-3 People Maximum.

3) Shouting Can be confusing, better to use Hand Signals, both Hands Up, and indicate the desired direction by moving one hand towards that direction.

There are universal Hand Signals for Stop, Go, Move Up, Stay Behind, Winch (Heave In/Pay Out)

4) Strictly No - ONLY experienced persons. Newbies can be used effectively as Trail Markers.

5) Spotting is Common Sense/Creativity/Spacial Orientation/Decent Off-Road Driving Skills/Vehicle Behaviour

6) ABSOLUTELY

7) The Spotter is a set of eyes outside the vehicle and the driver is the Nut Holding the Steering Wheel.

How to Hand Signal and a Spotter Who Does not understand Vehicle Behaviour.



Regards,

Arka
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Old 10th July 2010, 11:41   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittigadu View Post
Excellent.
From inside the vehicle i am always confused as to whose left/right i have to turn. His or mine. I think gestures would be more apt than words. ....
I think instead of 'left/right', shouting 'driver/passenger' is more apt -- if one has to shout out.
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Old 10th July 2010, 12:26   #15
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OMG, this was not funny at all. I think now Spotters are going to be under more pressure during OTR's :-)
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