2006 Qualifier No. 1

09 April 2006

Despite a weather forecast that predicted gales and heavy rain, the event took place under mostly blue skies though with some competitors getting caught out by a hailstorm over the Mendip hills.

Nine teams gathered on a country lane on the Somerset levels near to the village of Catcott. One new competitor, Dave Dyer from Weston Super Mare, was giving Top Band DF a first try using my receiver. Despite being a retired RFI investigator, he found it a lot harder than tracking down pirate radio stations! Station ‘A’ was located in Stockhill Forest in the Mendips, this provided some very good cover despite it being so early on in the season. It was therefore a pity that the operator attached the TX to the wrong end of the 200meter ‘dog-leg’ antenna that was threaded thorough the worst of the terrain thus giving the competitors an easier time than was intended.

Station ‘B’ was located in some rough terrain at the side of the disused Cheddar valley railway. The railway which closed in 1964 after 117 years of use and was nicknamed the “strawberry line” after its use for bringing the strawberries grown in Cheddar to the main rail distribution point in Yatton. This second station had about 300 meters of antenna strung through dense undergrowth (brambles) and a long counterpoise using a wire fence which was located near to the upturned tree stump that Colin Boyce hid in. A false antenna on the opposite side of the track bed only fooled a few teams and then only for a short while!

The event was won by Colin Merry in an extraordinary time, finishing at 15.03pm after taking only 4 bearings. His second set of bearings were taken from a hill near to the tea venue and these gave him a perfect fix on the two stations. Although he thought the B station may have been south of the access road according to the map, the terrain only allowed him to search to the north.

Second place went to Andrew Mead at 15.31pm. This was again a good time despite getting caught in a traffic jam in Congresbury and then having to double back through the same jam once again!! He described the contrasting countryside with Essex, and how he had plotted a 90 degree ‘cross’ on the forest site.

Graham Jones

Position Competitor Finish Time A Time B
1 C.Merry 15:03:05 14:23:58 15:03:05
2 A.Mead 15:31:49 14:24:07 15:31:49
3 B.Bristow 15:32:28 15:32:28 14:40:03
4 G.Whenham 15:34:30 15:34:30 14:45:22
5 R.Emney 15:37:48 14:35:46 15:37:48
6 P.Clark 15:49:27 14:36:10 15:49:27
7 G.Foster 16:14:50 15:32:48 16:14:50
8 W.Pechey 16:17:33 16:17:33 15:27:05
9 D.Dyer 16:29:37 16:29:37 -