World ARDF 2002 Part 4

Opening Day

I’m in the ARDF Team Leaders first meeting. Since these tend to be fairly lengthy affairs, especially due to 2 or more languages, I have the laptop here to write a report in the slow bits.

Yesterday we drove from Orfu, via Budapest all the way to Tatranske Matilare in northern Slovakia. We fitted into one van and two cars. At one point Gyrui got a phone call about 2 compass left at the house, but no-one seems to have claimed them.

Not lot to say about the journey really. The border crossing was slow but uneventful. As we approached Poprad the roads got windier and more interesting. As we wound our way to Tatranske Matilare I could follow the path of a narrow gauge mountain railway which services all the resort towns around here. It was even electrified (saw the train leaving one of the towns and it looked to be a two carriage forwards-backwards affair).

Map of the Tatras

Hotel Hutnik, Tatra Mountains, ARDF Practice

Team Leaders Meeting

Arrived at the hotel and it wasn’t really clear what we were meant to do (there was no registration desk in evidence). After a bit of waiting about we went into the ARDF admin office and found out thats what we were meant to do.

Met many old friends from many countries. It was while we were having a post-dinner drink with Mauris from Belgium that the bombshell dropped…. we had left the two large tube containing out 2m antennas back in Hungary.

Oh s^%$^%$t !

Panic !

It was going to cost a packet to get them couriered up, and they would probably not arrive in time anyway. After much questioning we have located some spare beams from the US team. Phew ! I had to re-solder the spare one I borrowed from Dick last night, but it seems to have gone together ok. I will try it out today at the practice event after this meeting.

They are just demonstrationing the Sport Ident setup to be used. No manual punch backup, but they do have two SI controls at each transmitter (and of course the officials required at an Interntional event) for backup. They are using the German ARDF software (It was Stefan doing the demonstration). Looks like it also does ARDF start lists and other useful things like that. Another interesting statement in the brochure is “support for quick registration of competitors”.

…. – that means time has passed !

OK Relief…the antenna seems to work ok. Thanks Dick !! Adam has borrowed a similar tape measure construction from Bob, and Bryan has modified a large 5 element 2m beam from Larry (a US competitor who has come to the championships directly) to 3 elements. The practice area was on/near a little ski run just outside the hotel with a baby poma. The real ski runs are up on the mountains we can see out our Hotel window. Very impressive looking cable cars.

I have just been handed a VHS video of China championships 2 years ago by the Norwegian team. I had asked way back then if they could do me a copy, so at last I have one !


Again I’m bored at a team leaders meeting. It is delayed because a couple of countries did not hand in their start lists… so we wait….

The opening ceremony was help in a nearby town around a picturesque lake. The stage was on the lake itself. There are 29 countries represented at this championship, so I think it is bigger than China. Two Hotels (well one really but two connected parts) are entirely taken over by ARDF, as well as a camping site.

The opening ceremony was the normal sort of ceremony. Since Australia is first in the alphabet we get to lead the procession, following our local schoolkid holding the AUSTRALIA sign. Our foldable flagpole was, you guessed it, in the cylinders with the antennas back in Hungary ! I bashed into the forest on the way to the bus and picked up a straight small pine branch that served well along with our new Aussie flag we bought at the airport.

Team Bosnia Herzegovina

Lined up and Ready !

Team Australia with Austria

The biggest teams here are Russia, Bosnia H, Ukraine and Germany. China was expected to bring a big team but has cancelled many due to some inability to get flights. Neither Mr Han or Madam Chen are here.

The ceremony started with the normal photo taking, and then the procession. Then 3 almost identical interminable speeches in 2 languages, and at last it was declared Open. Following were some traditional Slovakian singers and dancers. In the last song the dancing girls came out to the competitors and led us a in a human chain around the lake (with of course us leading!).

The Opening Ceremony

The Slovakian Dancers

At last the meeting has started. We just get the low down on the map size, contours, orientation and so on. Also details of what we do at the Start when we get off the bus and how long before the Start time you need to front up to the controlled Start area. Even all this takes quite a while because the instructions are given in Slovakian and translated into English (the official language of the competition). Interestingly they create 3 different starting lists, and then one is selected at random. Not sure why this is.

There is a cable car that operates in summer, so if we get time it would be great to take a ride up later on.

Elecronic devices are banned from the Start area in case of cheating (eg. Taking a picture with a digital camera and sending it out via a mobile back to the un-started competitors in your team).

STILL at the meeting. Getting sleepy…yawns ! Nearly 2 hours now. They are argueing technicalities about the slightly unusual finish corridor setup. With 29 countries all trying to follow the English the possibilities for misunderstanding are endless. Now it’s been changed ! At last. Someone else can be team leader next time !

Adventures in the Tatra

Well, today was the first biggie…the first world championship event for these championships.

How did we go ? Did we win ?

You think I’m going to tell you everything so you don’t need to bother reading all my other blather. No way !!

It was a 5:45am wake up today. Still, the mountains looked eerie in the dawn light. We had to get all our shit together and be on the bus at 7am. We drove down the mountain road a ways stopping near a grassy field setup as the holding area and nearby start corridors. About 7 bus loads of competitors.

Start Compound for 2m

Everyone has to impound their equipment before they start up the transmitters in a officially run event so no-one can take bearings before they start. They took a long time to do the impounding today, calling up each country in turn. It was neat how they had metal stands to hold all the sniffer beams though.

Waiting for our starts…

My map and (approx) course

Me at TX #4 (thanks Karla!)

Everyone must be in the holding area. Once anyone leaves they cannot come back. Karla was an International Jury member, and her task was to sit at one of the transmitters, so I gave her my digital camera to take some shots of competitors actually in the field. This is normally pretty difficult to do so we’ll see what they come back like ! Had to give her the camera last night since the officials had to head out at 6am.

Bryan was off first in the 3rd start group. Competitors are let out on 5 minute intervals, normally of around 9 people from different age categories. Today they had two M21 or two M40 competitors let out at once just to get the number of competitors through.

I had to wait around an hour for my start. An hour of being nervous :O) At last after a bit of a warm up I was called up for my 10:10am start. The start order is determined by computer ballot the night before each competition, but guided by the teams preferences as to which member of the 3 person team goes 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

I had a couple of dud bearings in my first 10 or so minutes so I chose what turned out to be a non-optimum transmitter to go for 1st (#3). I realised this later on the way there, but was pretty much committed by then. It was roughly in the middle of the map, and compared to some of the others found it pretty well….it just took a while to get there. My first punch of the Sport Ident was at around 25 minutes, which is pretty poor.

Harley had an interesting tale to tell about transmitter 3. He was heading downhill to it with some fairly thick scrub to his left.He started to hear crashing and smashing noises in the scrub. This got louder, also accompanied by loud grunts. Being from Montana US his immediate thought was “that sounds like a bear and it’s heading straight for me”. Well funnily enough it turned out to be just that, and a pretty big one at that !!. The bear crashed out of the scrub not more than 4 metres from Harley. Harley gave a loud “ARGGGH” noise and waved his map board vigourously at the bear. The bear was as startled as he was and immediately did a U turn back into the scrub. We suspect the bear may have been disturbed by another competitor.

I knew now I had to head back almost due North to get the #5 (which is the one I should have got first). I ran there pretty quickly, being pretty confident where to go, but got confusing bearings near it. Took about 3 cycles (15 minutes) to finally find it whereas it should have taken 1.

The next one #2 a distant one way to the East, and that one, plus the way I picked to it went pretty well. A little bit of mucking about near it again.

Now it was #4 roughly South. Somehow I got confused about a road junction and got a bit lost when the road didn’t go where I thought it should, so I went bush. I know now where I went, but at the time I was less than sure. Despite this I didn’t do too badly on this leg, with some slow down due to messy terrain (since I didn’t know where I was exactly). There were lots of swampy creeky bits on the map, with heaps of running water.

I overshot #4 a bit and had to head back when it came on (the transmitters take turns 1 minute each). I found it after it had turned off just by following my last bearing. As it turns out this ws the trasnmitter Karla was stationed at, and as I headed off from the control stand I saw her taking a picture of me.

I knew roughly where my last TX #1 was on the map (back betwen the start and the finish), but the problem was I didn’t know quite where *I* was. I headed off down a road that seemed to head in the direction of my bearing to #1, but after a while it started to diverge too far South. Again I went bush after being unable to find the track that ran East-West I’d hoped to see. Luckily a saw a house in the distance. AHHH I know where I am now… bit South of where I’d hoped but not a disaster. #1 took me way too many cycles t find. It gave really erroneous bearings close by. I’ve never had so many problems. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t used to the borrowed antenna. I really don’t know. You can always be more confident with gear you KNOW.

Anyway, back up the hill to the finish. I tried to run up but was simply too buggered to be able to, so I alternated running and walking. I walked just prior to the finish corridor so I could put on a good race up the public area (these things are important :-)).

Overall I took 129 minutes, just piping Csaba on 132 minutes (YAY). Adam did a commendable 96 minutes, and Bryan 4 TX’s 139 minutes. I don’t know the placings right now, but it’s well down with the winning time just under 62 minutes for M21.

One thing with these championships is they know how to celebrate. The finish area and chute was a carnival atmosphere. Music and people with rattles and bells cheering on their teams. I had a boomerang throwing seesion with one of Roger’s Boomerangs (very poplar Roger!).

The food here is excellent, so I’m now off to dinner.a Later will be the prize ceremony for the 2m competition, and Tommorow will be the tour day. At this stage have no idea where to !

Finish Area for 2m

2m Prize giving ceremony outside Hotel

The M19 category (with Marmints)

The German team celebrate!

…. – time passes again

Been to the prize giving ceremony. Again heaps of celebration. The teams that figured most were the bigger teams: Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Germany, Czech Republic.

Also good to see a bit more variation in the womens categories with China 3rd and Kazakstan, Estonia in there somewhere. They had 3 Beavers who helped with the celebrations.

The theme of the night has been celebration. The Germans are occupying the floor below us and are having a great time having done very well in some team events. You can’t go past without joining in for a bit. Bryan is a bit drunk after having consumed “Fox Hunting Fluid” which is an unusual sight !

Some good news is the FTP is now working. Try for the first couple of my reports with real pictures!

Floating on the Borderline

Well, before I go into the tour days events, I’ve got some 2m competition results for those who might be interested.

The Aussie Teams placings were Adam 23, Bruce 34 and Bryan 44 out of 61. 9 of those competitors were overtime in M21. Csaba (US) was 35th. Nikolay from Kazakstan came 8th, but the next KAZ entry was 27th. Ukraine was 1st with just under 62 minutes, Slovakia 2nd and Czech Republic 3rd.

More impressive sounding are the teams results. These are taken by taking the best two results of the 3 competitors in a team and adding their times to get an overall team ranking. In our case my and Adam’s results were added to give us 11th place out of 16 valid team entries in M21. Since there are 29 countries here, most with an M21 team, it looks like there were quite a few teams that didn’t even get two valid entries to add (ie. 2 or more were overtime). Unfortunately USA in M21 was one of those not valid.

It is good to see we beat the French, and were just piped by Norway. If you take the “real amateur radio teams” (those with callsigns) we did even better !

Incidentally, Stephan’s M19 German team came 5th. Another interesting result is 1st, 2nd and 3rd in M19 were all Czech Republic, and again 1st, 2nd and 4th in D19 (Womens) as well as placings in some of the other categories.

By the way, the offical amateur station of the event callsign is OM9FOX.

Today was the tour day, a day of rest between the two competitions. We had about an hour or so bus ride (8 buses!!). Australia lucked on the modern bus (Austrian) rather than on one of the older (Czech) buses. The destination was the Dunajec river right on the border between Slovakia and Poland. After a bit of a wait we boarded rafts on the river made from 6 smaller boats lashed together. They are done this way to ease trasporting the boats back upstream on trucks. 20 years ago they used to be transported back upriver by horse and cart up an ancient road beside the river made from stonewall (no cement).

Awaiting the Rafts

Whitewater Rafting on the Dunajec

Ramming Speed!

Who’s that idiot poling ?

We rafted from Majere Kvasne Luky to Lesnica, about 11km. Each raft had two polemen, one of which could speak English to give us some commentary. In a quieter part of the river (lazy river) I had a go at poling the raft myself. A very pleasant journey. It took just over an hour to float down.

After lunch at the destination port, we were bused to Poprad, the major town in this region of Slovakia. Free time to go shopping or whatever. One interesting thing we saw was one of the event posters in a shop window.

Whilst most of us were having a fun time, the majority of the US team had decided to take the van and car and go on a self-tour. Things didn’t go quite as planned !

First stop was a castle. They parked, hiked up 800m or so only to be barred by a annoyingly shut gate. Since they had come so far they decided to break in. This involved something to do with rocks under the gate to raise it. Harley had just slipped under the gate and a woman came running to let them in. Luckily nothing was said about the rocks…. Once they got in they found other people were wandering about…surely they hadn’t all broken in too ??? Nah…they had parked in the wrong carpark. There was another on the other side with only a 20m walk to the castle 🙂

Next disaster occurred when they decided to cross the border to Poland. Nadia (US team) was on a Russian passport, and her Slovakian visa was a single entry type. She had to wait with another on the border whilst the others went in and proceeded to get thoroughly lost! After finding where they were, eventually, they had little time left but to go back and pick up Nadia and head home… All in all we probably had the better time with the rafting 🙂

Again I’m taking the opportunity of the team leaders meeting to write this report, but this one seems to be going a bit more smoohly, so far. One leader has brought up the ludicrous concept of allowing smoking at a world championship sports event, so the organisers have banned it. Yay !

Ooops it all seemed to be going so well…but now there is some problem with the Bosnia H. team entries in the database for the start ballot.

PS: German ARDF software costs 75 Euros for the 1st copy and can be downloaded.