CaravanTimes Judge The Caravan Design & Lightweight Leisure Awards
Friday, 02, Nov 2018 03:09
By William Coleman
This year the has been a year of highlights for the CaravanTimes team. We travelled to 21 countries in 21 days with Bailey Of Bristol on the #Bristanbul trip, we took part as a judge in the Caravan and Motorhome Club Towcar of the Year awards and then we were asked to judge the Caravan Design & Lightweight Leisure Awards at the NEC October show.
To be asked to judge two of The Club's most prestigious awards really does mean a lot, you could go as far to say we were genuinely honours to even be offered the gig. Little did we know just how much work goes into the event before we even stepped inside a van at the NEC.
Before the judges are picked the team behind the scenes carefully curate a list of caravan entries for the assessment at the Motorhome and Caravan Show in Birmingham. The time and effort that goes into selecting entries that are going to be at the NEC and then hand selecting the judges is enough to make your hairs go grey, but they managed to pull it off.
The selected judges have to asses and roughly 130 different caravans, trailer tents and pop ups over a 6 day period. On the Sunday and Monday the process of assessing the van was quicker as there were not tens of thousands of visitors strolling around the NEC. As soon as the visitors started to arrive getting into each caravan became a job all in itself. So if you become a judge be prepared for a long week where you will walk quite a few miles a day.
But who are the judges? Well Dan Cartwright from CaravanTimes was one of them. Not only is Dan a caravan and motorhome journalist he is also a lifelong user of leisure vehicles of all different shapes and sizes. The other judges included chef extraordinaire Martin Dorey and the Airstream towing Andrew Ditton to name a few.
The reason for picking leisure journalists is to ensure that each vehicle is looked at through unbiased eyes who can constructively scrutinise each vehicle to give the most honest feedback as possible. These awards are for the consumer, not the manufacturer.
That being said there is a lot that a manufacturer can learn from the results and feedback given by each of the judges. A van may score very high for it's exterior marks but could fail on the inside assessment, thus losing the award win.
Every single aspect of a van is checked out and scored accordingly. The exterior hook up points, shape, size, layout, features, living areas, kitchen, bathroom, storage and many others aspects that a normal user may not even consider when looking at a new tourer.
Although this is hard work there is a lot of fun to be had. I mean afterall you get to go to the show a day or two earlier than the general public and have free reign of the entire show. Being able to bob in and out of each van and have a nose around of what you do and do not like. It is like one giant press launch all to yourself. You also get to see the evolution of the industry in a very unique way and get the first look at a lot of new innovations manufacturers add to help change the industry for the better.
Each judge soon becomes pressed for time as each van takes around 20-30 minutes to judge, now add the public to that and you can double your time. By day 3 the rush is really on as all the figures need to be in by the Thursday afternoon to then be correlated and then displayed Friday evening at the awards, so its all hands on deck from Sunday to Friday at the NEC.
It was estimated that the average judge would cover 15-20 miles during the week at the NEC, which deserves a well earned pint at the end of the week.