7 Days Off Road – No Modern Nav. Tools with Sabrina Howells

Alyssa and Sabrina met in 2015 while competing on separate teams in the Rally Aiche Des Gazelles in Morocco, a multi-day off-road navigation rally without GPS through hundreds of miles of technical, punishing desert terrain. Known as the toughest all-women’s off-road competition in the world, the Gazelle features two-women teams of navigators (Sabrina) and drivers (Alyssa) who negotiate a series of checkpoints using only topographic maps drawn in the 1950s, a compass, a minute ruler and a course plotter — foreign pieces of plastic to most people in the age of GPS and Waze. That year, Alyssa became the first American driver to win a class at the Gazelle. Sabrina, who was in the midst of four consecutive years competing in the Gazelle, finished fifth in 2016 in a field of more than 100 teams.

Later that year, Sabrina competed in the inaugural Rebelle Rally, the only off-road navigation rally held in the U.S., and won as a navigator in the crossover class. In 2020, Sabrina and Alyssa teamed up for the first time in the Rebelle, which stretches from Northern Nevada all the way to the colossal sand dunes of Glamis, California, near the Mexican border. The Rebelle features additional twists like “black checkpoints” with no physical markers and Enduro Challenges, where teams must use Dakar-style navigation while keeping to a set speed. These challenges truly test a team’s ability to communicate, work together and trust one another — at speed. Alyssa and Sabrina excelled at the Enduros, winning multiple times and pushing their car to its limits when they didn’t. (Ask them to tell you about the time they changed a tire on the side of a cliff in a snow storm after an enduro challenge in Death Valley’s Titus Canyon.)

Sabrina will talk about their teamwork strategy that allows them to spend 12+ hours in a car together without killing each other. She will describe some of their worst mistakes – like draining the battery on the PHEV they piloted in 2021 and losing 4WD for most of the day – and their best life-lesson takeaways — like how to take responsibility for mistakes, no matter who made them, and how to have a short-term memory and move on to the next task. Of course, you don’t have multiple podiums in this Rally without plenty of triumphs, and the two will talk about the preparation and discipline that helped them succeed, as well as their competition mindset of, “win the day.”

Sabrina Howells is an Actress and Singer/Songwriter from Los Angeles. She attended the Orange County High School of the Arts, majoring in Musical Theatre, and received her BS in Film Studies and Communication from Boston University. She began her Rally Navigator “career” in 2013 competing in the  Rallye Aiche Des Gazelles- an all woman, off-road rally raid in Morocco. In 2016, she was honored to compete in the Inaugural Rebelle Rally as a navigator for Hoehn Adventure’s –where her team took 1st Place in the X-Cross Class.  She has since podiumed three more times at the Rebelle Rally, twice with her great friend Alyssa Roenigk, while driving for Kia.   When she’s not avoiding camels in the Sahara and navigating sand dunes, you can usually find her performing improv with her all-woman team, Woke Up Like This, singing with her band Henry Henrietta, or doing a Stand-up set around town.

This program was organized by Phoebe Piper.