MPBA 2012 National Scale Finals

DAVE WOOLEY reports from Balne Moor

Balne Moor MBC was a great venue for the MPBA 2012 National Scale Finals. 


Held on 16th September, it’s always a pleasure visiting Balne Moor near Doncaster. The lake is in open countryside and is just the right size for staging tug towing and scale steering events as well as being within easy reach of the M62 motorway and the M1 and A1. The host club could not be more welcoming and with a recently refurbished club house, hot food and drink was available on arrival and throughout the day for competitors, organisers and visitors alike. Coupled with their experience of running such events, everything looked very promising.

The course

This has to include a number of set features which are part of the MPBA requirements for such an event, but how and where these are located is down to the host club. The course also has to be designed to take into account the characteristics of large models, so as to be fair to everyone. Skippers are penalised for errors of navigation and in some classes the models are judged for their on the water appearance and performance, as well as statically. The Open Navigation class only requires the entrant to sail around the course, incurring the minimum number of penalties but the model is also marked for its on the water appearance. This is avoid the need for run-offs if identical scores are achieved on the course. Kit and Semi-Exact models in addition are marked statically, their total scores determining their overall class positions and awards.

The models

For 2012 an Open Warship class was a new category. Any type or size could be entered and as it so happened, Ian Wallett of the host club entered his 1:32 scale Flower class corvette HMS Charlock and achieved third place.


The adjustable dock, a regular feature of these events, was comfortably negotiated by John Pollitt with his 200cm long by 33cm wide barge and Flying Kestrel tug, so model size was not an issue. The barge is actually 130 pounds of steel, so is also no lightweight either!


Eric Austwick easily manoeuvred his large IJN Yamato around the course and into the dock and out again, so the course did not require only small boats to have a chance of victory.

Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded in the classes with combined scores and this seems very fair, because in year's gone past, the spread of marks for the top five or six models could be as little as one or two, which meant that two or three equally good models could miss out on award, often because of a very subjective minor error, which isn't always right. A good example of fairness, was Roy Whitton with his tug Gribbin Head and Ian Wallett with his Flower class corvette HMS Sunflower K41, when both achieved clear rounds and good static marks, so both got gold awards. Much the same applied in Kit class where a twin screw Robbe Happy Hunter gained Gold as did a much smaller SCT Knud, a single screw tug, built and sailed by Robin Lee.


At the other end of the size scale, Alan France with his HMS Lion could match the smaller models and it earned him a bronze award in the Semi-Exact class.


Mark Hawkins is a skilled skipper and the water was reasonably calm, but working his single screw high-sided model of the torpedo training vessel Vulcano, tested even him and his patience, but it was all worth the effort, because it gained him a silver award.


Keith Young has been on the model boating scene for as long as I can remember and in recent years very much so with his unique lifeboats. His Dutch lifeboat Ida Mary gained him first place in Open Navigation class. He also had top place in Open Warship, but Robin Lee with his 1:96 scale Deans Marine HMS Kelly proved that a long and narrow destroyer, could still be sailed into a second place in the same class.


There were also one or two models that were not entered into this 2012 MPBA Scale Finals event including M.V. Balmoral built by Roy Whitton, and his example is particularly well built.


The host club worked very hard, the organisation was first class and the course demanding as well as being interesting, but there is no denying that support in the form of just 23 entries is disappointing when compared with the 70 or so the event had in the 1990's. Indeed, at that time, modellers had to pass through a series of eliminators to reach the final, so times have changed. On the other hand, this is the only national r/c scale sailing event and as such deserves support. Navigating around a course adds another dimension to our hobby and the event combines model making skills with sailing skills, so is unique in that respect. The Scale Section of the MPBA has some notable scale modellers within it including Mark Hawkins, so why not have a go in 2013 - please see the MPBA website for advance information, or perhaps nearer the time within Compass 360 of this magazine. Some of the classes are open to non-MPBA members, so you do not have to be within the association, although for around £20 per annum with £10 million third party liability cover, including most i.c. boats, and anywhere within the EEC except the sea or tidal waters, there are some distinct advantages.


My personal thanks to Balne Moor MBC, the organisers and all the competitors for making my visit interesting and enjoyable.