By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Dremel

Scale Boats - How do you sail yours?

Do you prefer free sailing or the challenge that courses provide?

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Colin Bishop12/10/2009 22:18:57
4966 forum posts
6089 photos
410 articles
In the mid 1990s I took a 10 year break from active modelling in favour of full size sailing. When I left, the emphasis at regattas was on MPBA steering courses which I had become used to over many years since the mid 1970s.
On my return to the hobby it was very evident that sailing courses had largely given way to free sailing events.
Personally I have found this rather disappointing as I enjoyed the challenge of  negotiating a well designed steering course with its canals, dockings and fiendish arrangements of buoys which really tested your ability to control your model. I'm not in favour of cutthroat competition but do enjoy a challenge in steering my boats.
Now, at many events, it seems you just put your boat in the water and steer about rather aimlesly which may look pretty but is not ultimately very satisfying.
Given that modern R/C gear allows you to have all sorts of special functions including mixer control of twin screws and the  use of bow thrusters it does seem a shame to me that the only way you can put your boat through its paces is to engage in the maritime equivalent of "Strictly Come Dancing" in pirouetting around in the middle of an empty pond.
Am I alone in thinking that there should be something more to give satisfaction in running our boats in a way that represents their prototypes or am I just whistling in the dark?
Rick Devonshire13/10/2009 05:07:12
139 forum posts
14 photos
There are still a number of clubs who put on steering course type events ie. The Potteries MBC.
I have often wondered if it would be possible to devise a steering course for fast scale craft such as MTBs. My Idea is taken from 'slalom' skiing events whereby the boat would be required to navigate a series of 'gates' in the shortest time possibe and  contact with any gate would mean 'penalty seconds' added to the final score.
Have any clubs tried this?
Paul T13/10/2009 06:50:08
7334 forum posts
1229 photos
2 articles
In my teens I enjoyed dinghy racing and sailing around a course against other boats but later in life I changed to free sailing my 6 ton Hillyard on the sea and became bored with restrictive regatta events.
Model steering events do challange the model builder but I think that the events only attract the very experienced as the novice has the fear of looking daft
I do like Rick's idea of high speed steering events for the more powerful and larger boats and would give that kind of event a go.
ashley needham14/10/2009 06:57:36
7318 forum posts
156 photos
I only fiddle around boating on a Sunday morning (generally) and so am happy with "free sailing", and to be honest would not want to spend a whole day at a regatta type event.
So saying, our pond has loads of features to navigate round, including a small stream with a fairly strong current which has shallow spots, logs, stones, patches of weed..both on the surface and on the bottom etc etc, and this is quite a challenge sometimes. During the closed season for fishing we can go round the very large pond which has some small islands in it and other items for interest.
Does the thirst for a few bouys perhaps sharpen up if your home water is a bit boring and /or has no spectator interest?  Our pond has loads of public persons and small children in it ...sorry...AROUND we can spread the boating word and show off a bit.


Edited By ashley needham on 14/10/2009 07:01:56

David Wooley14/10/2009 13:18:01
599 forum posts
702 photos
8 articles

This is an interesting topic. Like Colin I cut my teeth on organized steering competitions but not scale these where high speed steering  events  for I/Cs up to 30cc{ although the optimum was around 3.5cc }  or Electric .The courses were  30m triangles with  1m gates and the aim was pure and simple , clear rounds as fast as you could go. The design of the course was the   international NAVIGA standard so no matter where you competed it was exactly the same for every competitor. Good or bad you could practice, which I did and hone your skills to achieve the best you could do. Two of the most proficient at that time was Phil Connolly and    John Cundell,   competitors every one wanted to beat and they where good. Both where top class international competitors and record holders. In fact we even had Record days where models could  do  "point to point straight line  or to put it simply  go as fast as it was possible and claim the record. These were adrenalin rush events and very entertaining. Representing your country  {GB}  at Naviga   was by itself a high achievement  which was always over subscribed. Sadly  few if any compete at Naviga, a shame but a fact. If I can recall the last UK Brit to compete at any Naviga  was Paul Freshney and to gain any award at that level is  hard work  and an achievement .

Going back to Colin’s original question about  scale courses and why  modelers prefer  the free sail.   Perhaps  in some respects   it’s the old question who  does the work , designs the course , dons the waders or goes out in the dingy to set the course up , runs the event  and ultimately clears the lot up?

Dave Wooley >>

> >

Rick Devonshire14/10/2009 15:52:16
139 forum posts
14 photos
My suggestion was for a rather more complex course than the triangle of the Naviga course -  more of a 'slalom' type - I had electric scale or semi-scale craft in mind. It seems rather a shame that current steering course seem to be of a very intricate but slow speed affair and it would be interesting for boats such as MTBs, ASRBs to be able to employ their speed on a less intricate, but still demanding, type of course.
Kevin Bellman14/10/2009 22:01:25
68 forum posts
2 photos
I am most definately with you on this - I can think of nothing more boring than sailing a boat up and down an empty stretch of water!
I'm lucky living in the South West as SWAMBC run a series of scale steering events over the year.
In addition Newquay(Crealy) and Exeter clubs are able to leave there courses out all year so you can practise or just play.
I cant see speed events catching on for scale MTBs etc,. Catch a buoy wrong, flip the boat over and there go all your fittings!!!
Mark Hawkins16/10/2009 15:00:17
16 forum posts
14 photos

Just to have my ten penth worth, I enjoy both free sailing and competition sailing, The Stoke Navy day as mentioned before is one my favourite days of the year.>>


It is nice to go sailing with Ashley now and then and dodge the Swans fighting with the Geese, however I build my models to run and behave as near as possible to the real thing, so the chance to put a model around a course is often welcome. The problem that I have experienced is that to design a course that is fair to all sizes of model is almost impossible and in many cases people have started to build models to suit courses, which will never suit me as most of my models are four foot plus and don't turn on a sixpence.>>


Mark Hawkins>>

neil howard-pritchard16/10/2009 16:49:47
1916 forum posts
1747 photos
Am I alone in thinking that there should be something more to give satisfaction in running our boats in a way that represents their prototypes or am I just whistling in the dark?
sadly, Colin, at times you have to be thankfull for what you have, closest at hand
I have been a member of both Fleetwood clubs, and in my days as a member I did my utmost to motivate good sailing days, with good and realistic courses, butafter a time, even me with my thick skin and outspoken personality, decided it was like flogging a dead horse.....
you know the scenario, the brave few catering for the majority time and time again, with little help from the majority of club members,
then boaters from away would turn up to an event and refuse point blank to sail because it was salt water, or there was more than a ripple on the water.
and after a long day you'd be left to row the boat out, alone to collect the bouys and put them away.
It had a greatly dissiliusioning effect upon me as a "club" member, and these days I just like to sail my boat, when and where I can find a nice quiet pond, and can't fall out with politics, no cup hunters, and definately no worries about what others think.
Colin Bishop16/10/2009 20:46:50
4966 forum posts
6089 photos
410 articles
I have to agree with Dave and others that setting out a course does represent an overhead in termsof effort by the host club. And of course, as is the way of the world, in most clubs the "active" members are very much in the minority but that's always been the case.
Also, setting out a course in a wadeable lake is much easier than if the water is 3 metres deep. Back in the 70s and 80s at my Berrylands club we held our regattas in a lido swimming pool, now long filled in. We had the course layout down to a fine art with sections of scaffolding poles in the handrail sections along the sides of the pool acting as anchors to suspend lines across the width of the pool from which buoys and other hazards such as canals, icebergs and minefields (non working!) were suspended.  You could adjust the positioning of the hazards by reeling the lines in and out around the poles to get the right layout. The whole thing worked a treat. It really was state of the art and I've rarely seen anything to match it since. Once set up it was also very quick to deploy and to retrieve after the event..
The problem of making a course fair for all sizes of models was also tackled and this is an art which subsequently subsequently seems to have been lost.. The secret was to design the course on what might be termed a "psychological" " basis whereby obstacles look more difficult than they actually are. The gate widths and turning spaces would be adequate for quite large models but the angle at which you viewed them meant that they looked smaller and you had to keep your nerve when negotiating them. This caught small boats just as much as bigger ones and resulted in a level playing field. Obviously, setting up this sort of course does require a certain amount of skill, not to mention low cunning, but it actually did work very well in practice and, with a few exceptions, the ability to set up a course of this type appears to have been lost which is rather a shame considering all the work that originally went into developing the concept.
The idea of designing small agile steering boats to beat the larger models is hardly new and the "psychological" course went a long way towards offsetting their perceived advantage. 

Edited By Colin Bishop on 16/10/2009 20:48:07

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Boats? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Boats!

Support Our Partners
Restorers Wanted
Coastal Shipping August 2021
Premier March
Pendle Boilers
Shopping Partners
Social Media

'Like' us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Pin us on Pinterest

Member Contributions
Distributors of Model Boats for our overseas readers

Make sure you never miss out on the latest news, product reviews and competitions with our free RSS feed

Make your own contribution to the Website

We welcome well written contributions from Website members on almost any aspect of Model Boating with a particular emphasis on practical hints, tips, experience and builds.

In order to maintain a consistent standard and format, all suggestions should first be sent to me by Personal Message for approval in principle. Only a very limited amount of time is available for editing contributions into a suitable format for placing on the website so it is important that the material is well presented, lucid and free from obvious spelling errors. I think it goes without saying that contributions should be illustrated by appropriate photos. I shall be happy to give advice on this.

The Member Contribution area offers space for short informative mini articles which would not normally find a place in Model Boats magazine. It is an opportunity for Website Members to freely share their  expertise and experience but I am afraid that virtue is its own reward as there is no budget to offer more material recompense!

I look forward to receiving your suggestions.

Colin Bishop - Website Editor