Kiwi 'grandads' take on world's greatest rally adventure

Leon Ford and Darryl Sherwin (Supplied)
Leon Ford and Darryl Sherwin (Supplied)

Leon Ford and Darryl Sherwin (Supplied)

A couple of 55-year-old Kiwis are planning to drive and kitesurf 16,000km across Europe and Asia in the upcoming Mongol Rally.

Darryl Sherwin and Leon Ford are best mates, and worked for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter together for 18 years.

Mr Sherwin is now based in Wanaka and Mr Ford has recently returned from working in Western Australia, but they have remained friends and share a love of kitesurfing. They've decided to combine this with the Mongol Rally.

"We thought we'd give it a crack," Mr Sherwin says.

Called the greatest motoring adventure on the planet, there are only three rules:

"The Mongol Rally is about getting lost, using your long-neglected wits, raising shedloads of cash for charity and scraping into the finish line with your vehicle in tatters and a wild grin smeared across your grubby face," the website reads.

The race begins in the UK and finishes in Ulan Ude, Russia. There are pitstops along the way in the likes of Budapest and Romania.

The two thought they would double the adrenaline and plan their rally route via as many waterways as possible to kitesurf, something they've been doing for a combined 16 years.

"Whatever lakes we can find, anywhere we can find water and wind...the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, off the coast of Italy."

"We're probably going to be the grandads," the Wanaka pilot says. "It's more for the younger ones, I think."

They aren't quite the oldest however, with some participants over a decade ahead, rally spokesperson Rosa Earp says.

Leon Ford kitesurfing (Supplied)

The charity the pair have chosen is the Upper Clutha Children's Medical Trust, which helps support the families of sick kids.

"It's basically because Leon and I have done a lot of hospital transfers together, picking up kids, and we know the strain and stress that's put on the family," Mr Sherwin says. "It's close to our hearts."

They've raised more than $2600 for the trust so far from 32 donors on Givealittle.

Money will also go to Cool Earth, the organisers' chosen charity, which works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction.

The pair headed to London last Saturday and will pick up their whip in Somerset this week - a little Suzuki Jimny, which will be covered in stickers belonging to sponsor Wanaka Sign Depot.

Mr Sherwin says they may have been a bit optimistic about the flag referendum with their logo featuring the alternative Kiwi flag.

The rally starts on the July 17, with all 315 vehicles and 810 participants descending on Goodwood Motor Racing in Chichester for the launch party on Saturday, July 16.

Mr Sherwin says he's looking forward to seeing Anzac Cove and Mongolia.

"It's going to be a great big party," he says. "I think it will be a real hoot. I'm looking forward to getting the show on the road."

Darryl and Leon's team page can be viewed online.