2008 MPBA National Scale Finals

DAVE WOOLEY reports on this event hosted by Balne Moor MBC


The 2008 MPBA National Scale Finals winners.

On a sunny 21st September, 28 entries competed in this annual event. Its been many years since I had the opportunity to visit an MPBA National Scale Final and I enjoyed myself very much. A look at the map confirmed that the venue was off the A19 and very close to Exit 34 on the M62 Motorway in Yorkshire.
The venue
Referencing the MPBA Yearbook, I noted that the entry for Balne Moor MBC states that the entrance to the club and lake was not readily visible and I must admit I failed to spot the entrance first time when going down the adjacent road, but Ill certainly remember for any future visits. The area in which the sailing water is sited is on private land and forms part of a fishing reserve. When entering the club area you certainly get the sense of a well-ordered site. There is good parking with decent toilets and this is always a plus. Overlooking the lake is a well sited and reasonably spacious clubhouse (with tea always on the brew, a must for Model Boats reporters) accompanied by welcoming Yorkshire hospitality.
The lake is surrounded on two sides by hard standing and a fixed pontoon, with the remaining two sides having a slightly raised embankment which is ideal for viewing the course from above. The club can boast that the hard standing launch area is probably the only one of its type in the UK to be covered with Astro turf, which I believe was laid just a few weeks prior to the event. Another additional feature were the fixed model tables arranged around the back of each the walkways which very were useful for when you wanted to prepare your model prior to launching. Like most events, the gazebo has become an essential fixture and the Balne club had two and in the right places. To one side of the lake a large marquee was prepared, which would double as a wet weather refuge ( not required on the day) and it also provided space and cover for eating lunch, very ably prepared by the host club.

The course

Club members had worked hard on the preceding Friday setting a course specifically tailored for the tug towing event on the Saturday and after that they reset the course to make it more suited for the MPBA scale competition on the Sunday.
The course consisted of harbours, docks and buoy channels. From my end of the camera it all looked straightforward, until like the competitors I moved from one stage of the course to the other. Angles of perspective changed and the course became more demanding. Points can be deducted for touching obstacles, missing a hazard and going the wrong way. Models were also judged for their on the water (OTW) appearance including correct load line, no port or starboard list and general trim. For those entering Navigation Class (also open to non-MPBA members) there was no static judging of the models, just an OTW score being given, primarily to determine the winner in the event of a tie. All competitors had two attempts around the course (which was slightly different for each attempt) and the scores were totalled to give a final overall result. In Exact, Semi-Exact and Kit Classes, all the models were judged statically and this was added to the scores for going around the course twice, plus the OTW mark.

The 2008 course
I noted that there were a fair number of high navigation scores. On first impression this would suggest that the course was not sufficiently demanding, which was far from the truth. These competitors were truly masters of their models and were fully aware of the limitations and advantages of each of them. Watching the careful navigation of the course by Ian Kennedy with his unusual model of the circular coastal defence ship Novgorod, I couldnt help wondering how you would be expected to dock such a ship and how the judges would allocate marks for this difficult task. Well they did and Ian gained a clear round on one of his runs, a remarkable demonstration of his skill.
Classes and awards
On my previous visit to the MPBA Scale Final many years ago, I remember that the models varied in size quite considerably. Here there seemed to be a general consensus that a certain size and type has particular benefits and with the notable exception of Novgorod, a fair number of the models entered were tugs, workboats, lifeboats or similar. I suspect that this was no coincidence as the demands of the course require a manoeuverable model. For the uninitiated like me I needed to familiarise myself with the classes.

Open Navigation Class is for any model. However these are not marked statically at all and an OTW score being awarded and used in the event of a tie. Just the two scores for going around the course are added together to give a final score.

Exact Class is for models built from scratch.

Semi-Exact Class is for models that may be from a semi-kit (e.g. GRP hull with fittings, but no building instructions) or a heavily modified kit or indeed where the inclusion of it would be inappropriate in Exact Class.

Kit Class is for kits surprise, surprise!

Marquee Class is for any model being marked only statically to Naviga standard and thats about as hard as it gets.

Mini-Ships Class

This is for as the name suggests mini-models, usually about 5-7 inches long but radio controlled and they sail on a paddling pool or equivalent.
The awards for Exact and Semi-Exact Classes have been changed in 2008, to conform to a points system. This means that although there will still be an overall first, second and third etc., it is quite possible for all three of those skippers to achieve a Gold award, because their standard of modelling and sailing skills warrant it. Awards include Gold, Silver, Silver Guilt and Bronze. However Kit Class (as does Navigation) still conforms to the conventional First, Second and Third positions.

Recalling the period when I was competing (many moons ago!), the problem encountered was that the same competitors were regularly finishing in the top three spots and going home with the trophies. So, this new award system will reward achievement in the Exact and Semi-Exact Classes, regardless of position. I believe this is the first year that the Scale Nationals have been organised this way, so no doubt feedback from competitors will be forthcoming at their conference and AGM.

Competition results.
This event was well and competently judged and it appeared few models had trouble negotiating the course. The overall performance of many of the competitors was high and extremely competent, as you would expect at this level. Highlighting a few of the top results:

Open Navigation

First place went to Eric Austwick and his Smit tug on 198 points and with 197 points in second place was Conserver from a Model Slipway kit, entered and built by Robin Lee.

Exact Class

No clear rounds, but First with the highest combined scores went to Keith Young with his superbly made Dutch lifeboat, Ida Mary on 285.5 points and Roy Whitton with his well turned out model of Smit Zweden also achieved a gold medal with his Second place and 282 points.


First was Ian Kennedy with his model of Novgorod on 253 points and Second was Roy Whitton with his tug Gribbon Head and 249 points, but also scoring more than enough to achieve a very well earned gold medal with his total score.

Kit Class

On 238 points was Dave Nowland with RNLB Inner Wheel 2, giving him an overall Second place, but in First place with excellent navigation skills and an overall score including OTW and static scoring, was Robin Lee with Tsekoa II, a Model Slipway kit, on 244.75 points. Funnily enough, Dave Brumstead won the same class in 2007 with a Tsekoa II, so this must be a winning model kit!

Marquee Class

Sadly only a single entry was submitted, but it was an exceptionally fine glass case model of RMAS Salmaid. This is a mooring, salvage and net tender built by Keith Young and was marked to Naviga standards by Tom Gorman and Peter Riches.

On the Water TSB award

Dave Petts won this award with his very realistic Graemsey, from a Metcalf Mouldings kit.
Bathed in bright autumn sunshine, the venue for the 2008 MBPA Scale National Final was blessed by perfect sailing conditions. Mini-Ships were not as well supported as in 2007, although they can be great fun, and Juniors were sadly absent on this occasion.

I know from experience, that events like these dont function by themselves. They require months of planning and hard work by a team of dedicated organisers, so it is these people that also deserve an accolade and a mention in dispatches. From my point of view as a visitor, the event was well prepared and skillfully organised. The catering department was simply outstanding, preparing light meals on arrival followed by a hearty lunch and keeping thirst at bay throughout the day for everyone on site. My thanks to Ian Wallett and the crew of the Balne Moor MBC for their hospitality and Ken Daniels, Chairman of the MPBA for all his help. Further general information about the MPBA can be had at: www.mpba.org or contact Ken Daniels on tel: 01214 772787 or email: ken.boats337@talktalk.net.