Camel Trophy 2000 - Tonga - Samoa
In 2000, the Camel Trophy returned with a new style of event. It developed the spirit of the Mongolia and Tierra del Fuego events but the 32 competitors explored Tonga and Samoa in RIB powerboats. The Ribtec 655 boats, custom built in Southampton and powered by a massive 130hp 4-stroke engine, cost in excess of £40,000. The order for sixty formed the largest single order of RIBs commissioned in the UK. Honda provided the powerplants and most of the support vehicles, although Land Rover Defender 110 HCPUs (High Capacity Pick Ups) were still essential. Land Rovers were also used in the selection and promotion of the event. The organisers showed they were flexible and adaptable after the original destination country, Fiji, was plunged into conflict and the event was hastily but competently redirected.
Thirty-two competitors from 16 countries, selected via national trials from more than one million applicants, explored the exotic waters and remote cultures using specially customised Rigid Inflatable Boats. The teams had the opportunity to explore the exotic waters and remote cultures of idyllic South Pacific islands, beaches, forests, lagoons and traditional villages. Activities included snorkelling, scuba diving, wakeboarding, abseiling, climbing, wave skiing and traditional exploration. Even the open-water crossing between the two countries is a journey not usually made in small open boats.
Although the event was successful as a sporting activity, it failed to give the sponsors the exposure they desired. In the future they would concentrate on fashion, not performance. "Camel Trophy is in fact a fusion of sight, sound, sensation and attitude," the sponsors declared.
It was to be the last Camel Trophy event.
Within a few years, international legislation made running events and producing products with the slightest traceable links to the tobacco industry illegal. Although for many years the Camel Trophy events had been sponsored by WBI, producers of Camel Trophy clothing and watches, but their parent company, RJ Reynolds was a tobacco manufacturer. The irony is that even if the Camel Trophy had continued into the 2000's, international law would soon have made it impossible to run.