Keen to hone our sand recovery skills we headed to Lancelin north or Perth.

First up we wanted to set up a good challenge. We found a nice bowl, the tyre were still firm, and managed to drive in deep – well and truly perched on the belly.

We wanted to setup a solid challenge for our MAXTRAX and thought bellied out and uphill was a solid test. We also wanted to use them as intended to give them every chance of success. Using our long-handled shovel and the MAXTRAX as shovels themselves we cleared sand. We made sure we could get the ramps under the tires for good traction and that they were angled upwards. Our theory was that we wanted the vehicle to move both forwards and upwards. Upwards meaning that the belly we were caught on would be quickly freed.

With the long-handled shovel, we also cleared a few key areas. This extra step didn’t take long, and we were keen to see how much progress we could make on the first attempt.

With four MAXTRAX carefully positioned, extra sand cleared and low range selected Luke was ready to roll. Just as we had hoped – the MAXTRAX were drawn down as the tyres bit in. The Prado lunged forwards, upwards and almost out. It wasn’t a hole in one, but we’d gained 2 metres uphill, in soft sand and from a purposefully sticky spot. We we’re almost out and a quick reset and second effort was all that was required to finish the job.

Next up we wanted to test using the ramps to aid a snatch recovery. We’d been discussing the forces involved in snatches, the danger of failures, but also the pressure on the running gear of the wedged vehicle.

For sand, there are plenty of scenarios where snatching alone is effective, but we discussed the benefits of taking the time to place the MAXTRAX and recover in combination. We hoped a gentler snatch would work in many instances, and that this would be both safer and lead to less vehicle damage.

So, we repositioned the Prado back in the sand bowl, placed the four MAXTRAX, connected the snatch strap and dampener.

Luke, now back in his LC76, came over the radio “snatching” and then he rolled forward. As the snatch strap came taught I tapped the Prado’s throttle to assist. The Prado gently popped up, forward and was free.

A beach run finished our day and after the hard section was this easy bit… We both scraped through, just, and we were glad we’d been practising in the dunes and not beside the ocean with an incoming tide.

Practice makes perfect and for us it had been far too long since our last skills session – we’re looking forward to our next one.

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