Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Guru

willy cave
Willy Cave celebrates his 82nd birthday in fine style with a Mini -shaped cake

Somebody once described Willy Cave as "...the greatest living Englishmen...". Generally I dislike such characterisations but in this case it's pretty accurate. For five decades he has been a legend in European rallying and has occupied works seats for Standard-Triumph, Rover and BMC in the role of co-driver and navigator. Together with Peter Barker he was 2nd in class in this year's Monte Carlo Historique rally and 2nd overall over the infamous Col de Turini stage. Willy's other achievements include flying Spitfires and Vampire jets in Korea for the RAF and winning a BAFTA when working for the BBC. He is also an active skier and snowboarder. I should point out that Willy is now 82, having celebrated his birthday on the rally.

I first met Willy 10 years ago on a course where he was teaching rally navigation and I've used him as a sounding board for my silly questions ever since. He's always been the consummate, old-fashioned gentleman and displays one of the rarest combination of attributes, namely great knowledge with humility: a refreshing contrast to the bloviating, self-important alpha-males so commonly encountered today. So a belated Happy Birthday, Willy. You are a model to us all and I only hope I will be winning rallys and surrounded by attractive, adoring ladies at the same age.

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