Not all the qualifiers appeared for the event – perhaps some had the long term weather forecast. Alan Simmons and Graham Jones were given time ‘off sick’ for the event.
The Ipswich map has three rivers striped across it, Stour, Orwell & Deben. Previous events highlighted the difficulties this can cause. So the start was moved to Felixstowe rather than Manningtree, helping eliminate such complications. Three stations were set out in a simple neat fan, none far from the start, none far from each other, with the A14 and A12 minimising time spent on the road. The plan was to go nowhere near, Reading, Slough or any other traffic-light ridden urban sprawl! The aim was to hold out the first place till 3.30pm and have everyone into three by end of contest, with lots of signal to help people at all stages.
Getting across the Deben via Melton onto the Bawdsey peninsular was just missing off the top of the Map, so this was provided with the start details and gave a bit of a clue as to where at least one of the transmitters was located.
The only part of the plan that failed was the weather, heavy rain predicted from 1.00 pm. All teams found bearings on the three stations, lined up behind Andy Collett to leave the start as the rains started and never let up.
Ten teams decided to go for Richard Whitney at A station first. The piece of map provided helped and some wanted to work their way over to the tea, not being put off by the prospect of a long run in. Tim was first at Sutton Heath arriving quickly at 2.14 pm with Peter Lisle after a longer run in right behind, and the young Gary Parker only 10 seconds after. Some teams found they could drive right onto the site and nine were in by 2.30 pm, a good start to any campaign.
Meanwhile Colin and Rosie decided to take B on first, arriving at Martlesham Heath at 2.43pm. Tim on a flyer, followed and clocked in at Peter Larbalestier at 3.07 pm.
Six of the other teams taking the same route found Larby in a bunch at 3.30pm, still in good time and all teams found the B station at some point in the afternoon.
Meanwhile two innocent teams had fallen into the traps laid out by the evil Ian Butson at the C station in Braziers Wood, right by the A14, with fine views on a sunny day overlooking the Orwell estuary and bridge. Andy Collett battled fairly successfully on his own, finding Ian at a respectable 2.35pm. Whilst Graham Nicholls and team tracked most of the large aerial array before finally falling into Ian’s hole at 3.21pm. Having done B, Colin and Rosie arrived at C and came the hard way up the hill into Ian at 3.35pm before scooting off for A.
Peter Lisle’s poor start bearings on B had put him off another potential long run so he decided to do C second. Arriving with a young, but drenched, team they took a good look round Ian’s site before getting in at 3.41 pm.
I was convinced teams would all do C first and having waited all afternoon to take photos of lots of people who never appeared, or I had missed (Andy). By then soaked and leaving for the tea, passed Tim on his way in, not sure who was more surprised, but at least I got a picture. By 3.50pm he had found Ian’s lair, and third station, taking first place in the contest. Tim was the last one to find Ian, all the others for one reason or another failed to make it to Braziers Wood in time, though some said they came really close.
Peter Lisle however made up lost time finding B some half an hour later at 4.20pm, coming in second. Andy Collett had got into the middle site at 3.40pm, finally arriving at Sutton heath for 4.28pm, giving him third place, just seconds ahead of Colin & Rosie, the last of the four teams to find all three stations. The ten other teams finding two wet stations during the afternoon.
After a hot dinner provided by Caroline, the prizes were given by George, with the Lady’s award to Cathy in the Collett team, with Andy also being presented the Rose Bowl for his efforts over the year. Suitably fed and watered the teams were soon off home through the rain and we were left with a new Champion, Tim the elder!
“How the East was Won”
With heavy rain forecast for the afternoon, I thought that this would be another event where all I went home with was a set of drenched dirty washing, aching joints, and the prospect of another heavy cold. So reinforcements were brought in in terms of Andy Mead as navigator, a set of headphones which worked on both sides, deep heat and a knee strapping, and a light rain jacket. Thankfully the rain kept off so we could all start with dry clothes and dry maps...
At 1250 three good signals rattled in; C towards Ipswich but weakest; A northerly through Woodbridge airfield, and B which seemed very strong in the direction of Woodbridge town. Which station to attempt first took a bit of thought, and as a result we were one of the last to leave the car park; C could be tangled up in the power lines west of Ipswich; B could be quite close to the start; our best hope seemed to be A with the added bonus hint from the extra portion of OS map provided. By the time we hit the A14 the rain had started. Turning north up the A12 it looked like the majority of fellow competitors were heading this way too.
By 1325 we were set up at Sutton Common car park ready for the next transmission, with Paul and Matt nearby sporting that essential bit of gear; the large umbrella. We kept clear in case a bolt of lightning hit them. There was no disappointment with signals and we took all three, but the focus was on the stonking great transmission in the direction of Shottisham, with the bearing crossing several green bits on the map. We would have liked to have cut through towards Vale Farm, but this was private, so we drove on to Shottisham church where we trod water for about 5 minutes. The next transmission said, ”You have messed this event up already. You are nowhere near GZ; here’s a nice (nearly) parallel bearing for you”. With spirits sagging we headed off for and parked at the bottom end of Oak Hill. Leaving the car in almost a sand pit, we tracked northwest expecting to find evidence of other competitors leaving the first site. Only after a long run did we home in on the wood concealing our prey, only to find Gary, George, Peter et al already there and surely able to home in first. Thankfully, my set did a good job and pinpointed a likely spot – but where was the way in? Andy came to my rescue and it was his big smile which beckoned me in. With all of the downtrodden brambles around here, how could I be first ? Back to the chariot; back onto the road. Hello Roy! – oh no, this must be his second of the day.
A quickie at Sutton and the 1330 bearing put B in one of the woods SE of Martlesham; I think we got round Woodbridge to the ”am” of "Martlesham" for the next signal, and with parked cars giving extra help, we were able to get a fix in the middle of the largest wood from its easterly extremity. Run time. We plonked ourselves in the middle of the wood and waited; and waited; and waited. No signal; no human lifeforms. Had the rain taken its toll on the receiver; transmitter or operators? Yay! No! But back towards the corner we had come from. Hope quickly faded after the next transmission led us a merry waltz through an assortment of greenery with Mark and company joining us on the dance floor, followed by Geoff and George; nice to see you! With no aerial visible I decided to take some quick steps away from the main search area. Traversing gaps in the tangled blackthorn, a soggy fox was encountered; after a multi-attempt at clocking in, I sneaked away from the soggy operator as quickly as I could as Geoff was closing in; then whistled for Andy to form a conga back to the car. Apologies to the other teams for distracting you from your mission!
Without giving Andy time to reassemble the map, or consider a smidgeon of dryness, we set off for Bridge Wood adjacent to the Orwell Bridge, where the 1250 and 1330 bearings converged. By the time the next but one transmission was on, we were in the wood’s car park. Expecting to head down towards the river, I was surprised to get a bearing heading through a wood and Pipers Vale on the other side of the A14. So back in the car for the short but soggy trip to the car park on the other side of the bridge, and out.
We stopped at the end of the first wood and surveyed the rain forest in the valley below. The next signal reversed our direction and the valley floor was avoided; a cameraman (Attenborough?) observing the antics of the indigenous and migrant species was seen in attendance recording a flock of Lisles skating for cover from the weather. The carpet floor of brambles resembled the tramplings of a herd of buffalo. Surely the alpha (oops Charlie) male was hiding close by? A potential den was spotted and a food offering of card 4 made... Would the beast take the bait or brace for impact with his transmitter? “Please could you come round to the front ?” With seconds vital, card 4 was inserted at arms length into the animal’s lair from the rear. Bait taken.
So job done by 1545; home for a quick change of attire and then a spot of afternoon tea after a little bit of Sunday afternoon driving. Two cups please?
Thank you to the Essex crew for putting on a good event; to all three transmitter operators for taking the trouble to find sites, put up aerials, and sit in the wet for hours on end; and to the Cunningham team for organizing the whole event and serving us up with a most welcome hot meal. Big thanks too to Andy for stepping in as navigator at the last minute (hope you enjoyed the afternoon’s cruise!) Pity about the most frightfully awful English weather !
|Position||Competitor||Finish||Time A||Time B||Time C|