2013 National Qualifier No. 2

19 May 2013

The weather in May was quite changeable and, following the cold spring, the undergrowth had not started growing at all by the time the event was put on, so things were a bit bare. The sites were selected by Chris and vetted by both Roger Thawley, the B station operator, and Colin Boyce who ended up as starter. Station A operated by Chris P and Chris Heys (in fact most Chris H as the cave was too small for Chris P to get into) was located under a small overhang on a rocky crag overlooking Dimmings Dale near Alton Towers with around 600 feet of Chris's near invisible black wire in line with the start, passing some 60' above a nasty bog and tied onto a bush across the far side of the nastiness. The site was only some 10 minutes walk from the nearest parking spot along a fairly level forestry road, however every team seemed to find a different way to approach the transmitter. Chris P was ensconced on a sunny platform, invisible from above or below and protected by a bramble and rhodedendron covered slope. Geoff Foster fought his way up this slope without much bother to find Chris P (the decoy) sat in a deckchair near the cave, some more searching found the proper TX site. Some 30 minutes later whistles from Rosie and Colin were heard, and Rosie said she could see the aerial from 50 yards away on the track below (telescopic vision that lady must have). Another 30 minutes later Andy Collett appeared spitting fire and unmentionable language, to be told he was nearly there... Eventually only 7 minutes later the Torbay Tigers came over the horizon and followed the aerial through the nastiness. Paul reported that he had spent far too long searching an area some 6 miles to the South of A for the B transmitter before giving up and coming to A. The A TX was 15km from the Start on roughly 300 degrees bearing.

The B transmitter had everyone fooled; Roger and accomplice, also a Roger, were ensconced in Hawk Hills wood 10km south of the start. The antenna here was a half wave with the far end grounded to a power line steel structure. When tested the day before it gave reasonable local bearings, but on the day the power lines took over and rather than a bearing of 190 degrees most teams got a westerly bearing (on the power lines 14 km from the TX site.) We had used this ploy before near Ironbridge power station, with similar effect, but it wasn't deliberate, after all Torbay regularly do the same but with less effect at distance. The idea here was to give a bearing towards Cannock Chase, but be only half way there. Geoff Foster got into the right wood but ran out of time. Promise next time not to use power lines again, fences, earth stakes, and every other ploy, but not supergrid power line pylons. The site was an easy 5 minutes walk over a level grass field from the nearest road access.

The gathering afterwards was actually at a Harvester pub next door to the arranged Carvery, as the Carvery had stuck a 2.00 premium on their published prices just because it was a Sunday... anyway with the sun blazing down everyone went away sated and relaxed. Thanks to Chris Heys, Colin Boyce, Roger Thawley and Roger Bell for the assistance in finding the sites, putting up aerial wire in the wet, acting as starter, operating the TX's and being bored to tears with no-one to torment at TX B. It was Roger Bell's first experience of DF organising and even DF in general, hopefully we did not put him off.

During the week prior we had interest shown by Jim, a guy from Shepshed in Leicestershire, G4DZL, he was late at the start and like Paul spent time under power lines to the west, but this did not put him off, we may see him on other fairly local events in future. He joined in with the meet afterwards and said he was sorry not to be any challange to the professionals... With so few teams out, no-one got any clues from anyone else, where to park, run, search etc. which is a shame, as this can help the less experienced teams with finding the right area at least.

Chris Plummer for SMRCC

Position Competitor Finish Time A Time B
1 Geoffrey Foster 14:33:11 14:33:11 -
2 Colin Merry 15:06:10 15:06:10 -
3 Andy Collett 15:40:45 15:40:45 -
4 Paul Clark 15:47:09 15:47:09 -
5 John Mullins - - -