The Last Supper
Today was another biggie… The 2nd and final competiton for the World Championships: The HF (80m) competition.
We had an even earlier start than the first competition (6:30am bus departure) since it was furthur away, and there was a 1lm or so walk into the start/holding area from where the buses could get to. I had an 11:45am start, and we arrived there about 7:45am. Groan !! Again Bryan had the first start in our Aussie team in the 6th group (1st start was again at 9am). Adam was in the middle with 10:10am, and I was last. Not a whole lot could be seen from the start area, but occasionally we did glimpse just a few up in a clearing on a hill. Turns out this wasn’t useful information (I think they must have been pretty lost!).
There was a thunderstorm that was threatening to break every now and then, but luckily it didn’t till the last competitor had finished. This time I was organised enough to start my stopwatch 1 hour before my start time. This means it rolls over just as I start, and is one less thing to forget at the start line. I could just hear the orienteering beeper at the start to synchronise my watch to.
There were two start corridors as before to split up the competitors somewhat. Ours (M21) headed right up a steep hill, and the damm thing seemed to go forever. Must have been 300m long or something (or at least it seemed like it). Normally I get to the end of the corridor before TX1 has finished its cycle, but today I had to remember 2 bearings as TX3 was just on as I reached the top ! These bearings all turned out to be roughly right. I chose to take #2 to the left as it was away from the finish and seemed strongest. #3 was directly towards the finish circle and the others spread in between.
As I continued up the hill towards #2 (what a hill !!) I got a bearing for #1 that was radically different and pointed back towards the edge of the start circle. Either one of other of my #1 bearings was significantly off, or there was something terribly wrong with TX1 as it was a very weak signal. I carried on to TX2. Bad decision. My bearings were right and the trasnmitter was faulty… still hard to know that in advance.
One problem with the sniffer I was using (apologies Ian) is there is almost no feedback as to how far you are from the tranmitter since it’s just a knob you turn. I kept on thinking #2 was closer than it was and plumbing for the bush-bashing bit WAY too early. I did a lot of bush bashing on the way to #2!! Very slow. Every time it came on it was still furthur. This was taking forever ! I eventually found the bastard 50 minutes into my event. Awful !
Luckily I passed a road creek combination on the map that was unique just before #2, and I was relocated (phew!). I took a good route to #5, but unfortunately either my navigation or the map was wrong and the track petered out unexpectedly. Despite some mucking about trying to find it again I reverted to bush-bashing, but this time avoiding the worst of it.
When #5 came on again I had gone past, so I heading back and got it when it was off (one of the advantages of starting late is earlier competitors often leave a path through the bush near the transmitters…not always reliable though). Next was #4 which I sprinted to. This was getting better. Not enough to recover from my earlier slow start, but at least I had an outside chance of finding all of them now…just.
Said a quiet hi to Karla at #4 and headed back around a lake and up a steep hill to head right back to the start to get #1 (the faultly one). Almost all competitors had similar problems with #1, so I wasn’t alone here. One Slovenian boy could never hear #1 at all since it was so weak (our receivers are more sensitive than most it would seem) and he followed me the entire way to #1. I did that one really well as it happens. I only had an hour left from #4 out of the 150 minute time limit, so I was glad things were going well now. I was determined to get all 5 transmitters. Off now to #3 which I had many bearings for now basically towards the finish. I sprinted towards the finish and when #3 came on did an immediate right angle (in fact even back a bit) and again found it when it was off. That was 4 out of 5 TXs I found when they weren’t transmitting!
All I had to do now was plummet towards the downhill finish (thank god it was downhill). I made it in 136 minutes for 35th place (same as the 2m competition…) I was kinda hoping I would do better, but the weak TX1 and my bad route to TX2 put paid to that. At least I made a good recovery.
I again beat Csaba with 149:10…cutting it fine!! Ghuri took just under the time limit for his 4 TXs himself since he had knee troubles.
Adam had took 131 minutes (so close!) for 33rd place. Bryan took 138 minutes with 3 TXs for position 45.
Saw Stephan back at the hotel looking very depressed. He had broken his headphone wire on the way to his 1st trasnmitter, and then broken his spare headphone wire on the way to his 2nd ! I take a spare set on 80m since I don’t have the FM radio link like I do for 2m. I hate having a wire between me and the sniffer, so my next 80m sniffer will have the FM link as well for sure !
We have had a light meal already. Later there is the prize giving ceremony (no prizes for the Aussie team I’m afraid. Our team placing is 12th. Not bad considering what we’re up against, and a lot better than some other countries with bigger teams, but not quite placing material at a World Championship. Region 3 championships are a different matter !).
There are 323 competitors at this competition, the biggest I’ve ever been to for ARDF, and quite possibly the biggest ever. Not in the league of say a World Orienteering event with 2000 competitors, but this is a bit different.
After the Prize giving is a “HamFest”. This isn’t what you might think (that is, unless you read my report from the German Championships last year). I suspect it’s a booze up and gift swapping ceremony (this is a must for World Events… you have to take with you little gifts to swap).
Anyway, not sure if I’ll have internet access after this or not. Possibly at some stage. The plan is to take the cable car up the mountain outside our window tommorow morning, maybe try to get the the castle the US team got to yesterday (but we don’t know how yet…), and then get on sleeper train to Prague overnight tommorow night. The constraint is Adam and Bryan have to be back to Prague for their flight back, otherwise I might have taken a day train.