2013 National Qualifer No. 4

14 July 2013

Organiser's Report

Eleven teams assembled at Culverstone Green on an open field with no power lines. Two good signals were heard by all competitors, one to the south and one to the west.

The concept for this event was to reduce the amount of road journey and he distance between stations was just 16km (as the RF flies). To ensure a challenging event, the two sites each had a reasonable length run-in. No dummy aerials were used. The aerials were both end fed with an earth stake located at the hidden station. Both stations were tested prior to the day to ensure good signals at the start. The brief to operators was to provide frequent transmissions, especially nearing the end.

The “A” Station, to the south, had a short aerial hugging the tops of bushes. It was only 8km away at Kings Hill and we wanted to disguise its relatively close proximity. Station “B”, operated by Ray Caswell in Pilots Wood near Shoreham, was 13m away and had over a full-wave of aerial since it was on the far side of a hill from the start. The aerial went some 200m up the hill to the summit. It was very high, typically 20 feet and sometimes above the tree canopy.

Most teams headed for “A” first and spent some time on site trying to find a route which was penetrable. Many teams needed to venture into the hidden station’s tunnel a second time before spotting the operator, Ian Deacon, so thick was the undergrowth.

Those teams which tried station B first found the visible part of the aerial at the top of the hill. Then they spent an inordinate amount of time trying to follow it. This was their downfall as it was virtually impossible to follow. It also had a number of radiating nodes along its length, causing confusing and further delays, despite very frequent transmissions.

The first team to find two stations did not complete the hunt until 16:20. That was John Mullins and Ray Goodearl. To get to their second transmitter they took a very strenuous route in up a very steep hill from the bottom of the next valley. Four other teams managed to find both stations before the 16:30 deadline.

Everyone rendezvoused at the Bell pub in Kemsing for ploughman’s followed by a choice of puddings and many thirst quenching drinks.

Colin Merry

Winner's Report

Eleven teams assembled at Culverstone Sports Centre for the 1320 start. We were using the Maidstone Map and Ray Goodearl was my navigator. All teams heard good signals at the start and I plotted 160 for station A and 255 for station B. We decided to go for station A first, merely because station B was nearer the tea location.

We headed south through Wrotham Heath and onto the B2016. As this road was more or less parallel with the start bearing we decided to turn off it and head west along some narrow country lanes. Unfortunately, all these lanes seemed to have power lines running along them and offered very few places to stop and take a bearing. As 1400 approached and the next transmission was due things started to get desperate and we ended up in a small lay-by with the ever present power lines near a place called Gover Hill. As luck would have it, we got clear signals from both transmitters and, as it turned out, good bearings. The bearing on A was 55 which crossed the start bearing on the eastern edge of Mereworth Woods close to King's Hill. The next transmission gave a nice 'cocked hat' around King's Hill so it was a question of finding somewhere to run in from. As we were about to park up, Graham and Justin arrived and we could see Geoff Foster's car down the road. There were two possible paths into the woods and we chose the more easterly - a good call as it turned out. A long walk through the woods lead us to a kind of clearing, full of small trees and bushes and general dense scrub. Rosie was on hand to offer bottles of water to anybody about to die. By now there were three teams on site. After a lot of searching we found a 'tunnel' through some scrub and eventually the operator. The annoying thing was that we had already considered this 'tunnel' and decided he wasn't there. Fortunately, Ray heard the operator talking and I braved the 'tunnel', followed by Geoff who spotted him first and got his card in before me. The next problem was getting back to the path and I followed Ray on a circular tour of more scrub and dense undergrowth before eventually finding the path back to the road.

Our two bearings on station B indicated somewhere near Otford so we set the SatNav for Otford and followed the nice lady's directions. A transmission came on as we drove through the town but we couldn't stop. Fortunately, the next transmission was fairly soon and we manged to find somewhere to stop and take a bearing. This indicated exactly north which made the likely site some woods near to the M25. We drove a bit further to Filston Hall where there were a couple of DFer's cars and waited for another transmission. That confirmed the woods and we found a path which then involved a very steep climb which seemed to go on and on - not what you want on one of the hottest days of the year. On the way up we met two teams coming down who had obviously been in to station B. They both said it was hard and they were right. At the top of the hill we found Colin wondering about. More transmissions led us to the end of the aerial near the top of the hill, but no operator - wrong end. It seemed that the aerial went down hill into another valley. Unfortunately the signal seemed to get weaker as we went down but eventually I found an area where the signal increased. Ray managed to spot the operator and I rushed round to where he was indicating and just managed to get my card in before Geoff, closely followed by Steve and Roy. Thankfully the operator had stocked up with cartons of cold orange juice - just what was needed. Thanks to Colin and Rosie for organising a challenging event. I think I was fortunate in getting good bearings all afternoon - it certainly helps - and Ray's excellent navigating also helped!

John Mullins

Position Competitor Finish Time A Time B
1 John Mullins 16:20:29 14:52:06 16:20:29
2 Geoffrey Foster 16:20:37 14:51:46 16:20:37
3 Steve Stone 16:21:28 15:14:52 16:21:28
4 Roy Emeny 16:23:22 14:55:02 16:23:22
5 Philip Cunningham 16:28:42 16:28:42 15:32:36
6 Graham Phillips 15:14:33 15:14:33 -
7 George Whenham 15:28:30 15:28:30 -
8 Ian Butson 15:34:58 15:34:58 -
9 Peter Lisle 15:36:17 15:36:17 -
10 Andy Collett 15:36:45 - 15:36:45
11 Paul Clark 15:37:39 - 15:37:39
12 Tim Parker - - -