2016 National Qualifier No. 8

04 September 2016

After searching a number of potentially good sites, many were ruled out due to being on private land, in nature reserves, too far from reasonable starting locations, and most frustrating of all some were good sites which didn’t have any parking areas!

We wanted to put on a compact event with a small amount of driving so this required sites that would not be too easy but present some good sport. Two sites were selected on the Mendips that were 6 ½ miles apart, this necessitated finding a new start with good parking facilities and hopefully not too many trees to mask the signals. The start selected was the car park for the Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve five miles south of Wedmore.

Station A, 6 ½ miles from the start was in a small copse of ash trees and other scrub which was located ¾ mile north of Cheddar. The aerial was a full wave dipole threaded over/through the trees and with a maximum height of 18 feet. There were several possible access points to this station, the shortest being from a bridleway leading from a large car parking area by a disused quarry. This gave a run-in of ½ mile to the station. Surprisingly a number of teams approached from Cheddar, the longest run in!

Two teams made their way to Station A first with Andy Collett arriving at a remarkable time of 14.36. Rupert who was operating the TX at station A said of Alan Simmons “I probably won't ever forget the image of Alan super-man diving through thick brambles to get his card to me while another contestant battled through the foliage behind”.

The other five teams made station B their first target. This station was located in a heavily wooded small valley 1 ½ miles south of Chew Valley lake and 10 miles from the start. Because the site was on the ‘screened’ side of the Mendips it was decided to deploy a large high aerial to ensure that a good signal would be heard at the start. The aerial was a dipole with each side being two wave lengths long. One leg across the valley was approximately 90’ foot above the ground. This had the effect of flooding the area with RF, and while putting a good signal to the start it made locating the TX rather difficult. The actual transmitter was located 150 feet from the valley floor and 30 feet from a meadow with a foot path; this was the shortest and easiest way in! Unfortunately the one event that I dreaded occurred, rain! During the previous day and evening an extraordinary 30 to 35 mm of rain fell turning the previous tractable surface into a ski slope! Because of the now slippy surface more frequent transmissions were given to try and draw teams towards the station. This worked well for teams on the right (Eastern) side of the valley, but unfortunately had the opposite effect for teams below on the footpath. Bill Pechey came straight up to the station during the fourth transmission, and walked straight past it! He returned during the fifth transmission and was the first station in.

Having experienced the frustration of waiting 15 minutes between transmissions during other events, it was decided prior to this event to make the maximum wait 10 minutes between transmissions and in practice this was reduced considerably at times.

All seven teams found both stations within six minutes of each other. Congratulations to Chris Plummer for finding both stations by 16:16:53. Thank you to all teams that took part, it is hard to maintain motivation for Q8 and especially for most teams having to travel halfway across the country to compete.

Graham Jones

Position Competitor Finish Time A Time B
1 Chris Plummer 16:16:53 16:16:53 15:05:46
2 Andy Collett 16:17:09 14:36:30 16:17:09
3 Matthew Clark 16:17:32 16:17:32 15:04:24
4 Alan Simmons 16:18:26 16:18:26 15:03:31
5 Bill Pechey 16:18:35 16:18:35 14:52:10
6 Colin Merry 16:19:08 16:19:08 15:27:27
7 Geoffrey Foster 16:22:49 15:29:49 16:22:49