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Pic 1: Dave Dicker launching his elastic boat. Pic 2: Malcolm Wilson with his elastic submarine.

The Eastleigh and District Model Boat Club was formed in 1983 with the opening of Lakeside Park in Eastleigh. The lakes were dug out to obtain the gravel to build the M27 motorway. The club has grown from the original fifteen members to eighty members, and now with a strong sailing section racing 10M and Marbleheads and a large scale section that produce any number of super detailed models which are shown at various exhibitions. To keep the enthusiasm going, our chairman Dave Welsh, has run the ‘Chairman’s Challenge’ each year of his tenure. The challenge is issued usually in January and all members are invited to have a go, with the judging at the annual regatta the following August.

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Pic 3: Terry Brown and Pete Flood with the monster - note the huge cover over the paddle.

The first challenge was to make a straight runner and several members had a go and enjoyed running them and continue to use them still with a fun league program. The following year the challenge was to create a model made only with cardboard and to radio control it on the water. Several card models were made and ran on the lake but I left the camera at home that day; Dave Dicker’s card fishing boat is used often and was featured on a recent modelling DVD.

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Pic 4: PS Pride of Lakeside made with vacuum mouldings by Ricky Webb. Pic 5: Mike Morris’s Delightful Steamer Pic 6: John Crawley’s Paddler

One year on and the challenge was to make a 900mm long boat powered by elastic bands. This time I had a go and produced HMS Nickerlastic driven by a pair of paddle wheels that managed to cover the greatest distance. But I must mention Terry Brown’s monster trimaran boat with a huge single steel paddle wheel powered by thick catapult elastic. That day the temperature reached 100 degrees and Terry’s elastic succumbed to the heat and welded itself into a solid lump – shame as the monster had performed well on trials before. Malcolm Wilson produced a submarine with a model aircraft propeller and a plastic tube that held the elastic drive. The following year the boats had to be propelled by air, not sails but coke bottles and balloons filled with compressed air and Terry Brown won with a huge block of expanded polystyrene and a dozen balloons with tubes facing aft under water. The next year was similar with Pop Pop steam boats driven by candle power.

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Pic 7: Chairman Dave Welsh presents Terry Blackman with the Chairman’s Challenge trophy. Pic 8: Looney Tunes, the winning boat by Terry Blackman. Pic 9: Steve Blackman’s super paddle steamer and very fast on the water. Pic 10: Montego Bay car ferry with the ‘plank deck’ - made by Ricky Webb. Pic 11: Brian Thompson’s lifeboat house and lifeboat with the ‘plank’ as the ramp.

The Chairman really excelled himself in 2005 by supplying the members with five sheets of vacuum formed mouldings with the instructions to make something. Two of the shapes were fairly obvious - the front and rear of a boat hull - but the other shapes took some thinking about. At the regatta nine members had got it right and produced a paddle steamer model, although they were all a different design, and the tenth model was a nice little steamer equally well made. The Chairman had his work cut out to choose the winner, Terry Blackman.

In 2006 Dave supplied the members with a rough plank of timber 600 x 100 x 18mm, and instructed the members to use it to make a boat and not to cut the wood, although they could drill a hole though it. The results were varied, ranging from a log raft with men using paddles on both sides, a car ferry with the plank as the car deck, a lifeboat, a boat house with ramp with the plank as the launching ramp, and a water tricycle with the plank as the main frame.

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Pic 12: The log raft made by Malcolm Wilson, the men on the sides actually paddle the raft along, and this one won the 2006 Challenge. Pic 13: Dave Dicker’s cardboard fishing boat ‘Flakes’ made with cornflake packets; the boat is used every year and still looks as good as new. Pic 14: Mick Morris’s water bike with the ‘plank’ as the main frame.

Malcolm Wilson was chosen as the winner with his log raft. Some wag suggested we put all the planks together and build a club shed for storing the club navigation buoys.

And for 2007 the challenge is to make a hovercraft size A4 with a 400 Speed motor. The Chairman’s Challenge has kept a breath of fresh air in the club and encouraged competition with all members - a competition where taking part is more important than winning, and if you believe that you haven’t met Malcolm, Terry, Mike, Steve, Rick, John, Eric, Brian and Dave.