The MPBA 2010 National Scale Finals

DAVE WOOLEY reports from Huddersfield

The MPBA 2010 National Scale Finals were held on the 19th September 2010 at Highfields Pond, hosted by the Huddersfield Society of Model Engineers.
The last time I visited Highfields Pond was for a straight running competition in 1971, so yes, I was involved in straight running which was very popular at that time. You must remember that proportional radio, as we know it now, was then still in its infancy and very expensive, so straight running had extensive support. My memory from then of this purpose built model venue (model engineering is still a core feature of this club) was a wooden clubhouse that served traditional pies and peas. The wooden hut has long gone and has been replaced by a much more modern structure, but the pie and peas are still on the menu, so good friendly Yorkshire hospitality has not changed over the years. On my arrival I could see that the society has moved with the times and has installed an extensive roadway for large scale r/c model trucks. The boating pond is rectangular and well suited for some thoughtful course designs as well as being quite sheltered.

The pre-requisite essentials for an MPBA area or national scale course are a start and finish point, touch bar and a docking area. Apart from that, the design of the course is up to the host club, so lighthouses, oil platforms, wrecks, minefields, channels have all made their appearance at one time or another. This year the course was as challenging as that of 2009 which was organised by the Hull Society of Model Shipwrights. Now for the downside of the day – it rained! However this did not dampen the determination of the competitors to put in their best performances at this national event.

The classes and scoring

The MPBA scale rules have changed with the times and the classes available to competitors include: Open Navigation, Kit, Semi-Exact, Exact and Junior. Open Navigation has no static judging element and is also available to non-MPBA members. All classes are scored on navigating around the course, losing points for touches, plus are marked for appearance on the water, but the static judging element is not used for the Open Navigation and Junior classes. Also, in some classes there are not the traditional first, second and third places, but medals are awarded depending on the score achieved. This avoids the situation whereby perhaps the top five models are separated by just a couple of points when the scores are totalled, meaning that some competitors could then just miss out on an award, when in truth they have all done very well.

The course

This must not be an eyesight test and should allow for the passage through the various hazards of any size of model. There were just nine clear rounds on the day, with two of the longest models, HMS Manchester (Eric Austwick) and Z38 (Robin Lee) both achieving this perfect score of 100. HMS Manchester was nearly 5ft in length, so full marks to Eric for his navigating skill. He also gained highest static score with the model in its Semi-Exact class, but was unable to complete the second sailing round, thus forfeiting 100 points, so did not achieve an award on this occasion, Better luck next time Eric!

Eventually, First place in Semi-Exact class went to Ian Wallett with his 1:72 scale HMS Snowflake. A new national perpetual trophy for Semi-Exact class had been donated for 2010 by MyHobbyStore via our Editor and for which the MPBA are very grateful.

Navigating around the oil production platform and the adjustable dock area required a fair degree of ship handling skills, which is what an MPBA navigation course is all about. Large or long models such as the Bulldog tug and John Pollitt’s pusher tug with barge, showed what it is all about and were a credit to their skippers. The need to build small models to beat the vagaries of the course has long since gone, as the emphasis is on ship-handling and navigation and not steering a model though a ridiculously small gap at a distance of 100 yards!

As it so happened this year, the Kit class attracted most entrants and that perhaps shows how the hobby is evolving. Keith Young’s Flower class corvette HMS Charlock competing in this class achieved two clear rounds, a good on the water assessment plus a decent static score resulting in a Gold medal and the highest score of any on the day. Keith repeated this by achieving the top overall score in Open Navigation class with his Dutch lifeboat Ida Mary. There was a joint second place in this class for T. Gregg with his fishing boat Celia and R. Watton with his tug Smit Zweden, based (I think) on the Billings Smit Nederland.

Third place in Kit class and with the highest static score, but alas only one clear round, was Robin Lee’s Z38 Kriegsmarine destroyer. This is no small model as at 1:96 scale it is 1.32 metres long. It also scored the top marks for ‘On the Water’ appearance in this class. So, the top positions in Kit class were in the end only separated by a few marks. The ‘On the Water’ judges were Dave Allen and Ian Kennedy.

Ian Kennedy has been on the model boat scene for many years and is well known for building unusual models. This day he brought along a 1:150 scale model of the side wheel frigate USS Susquehanna, the original being built in 1860 at New York. Unfortunately for Ian, the ripples on the water were just too much to allow the paddles to function properly, but it was great to see something a bit different and new.


The day suffered from rain, but the event ran smoothly with no glitches and that is in part due to the skills of the Huddersfield SME who count within their membership some longstanding and well known active scale modellers. Ian Wallett (Balne Moor) and Dot Wilson (Huddersfield SME) made sure the day went as smoothly as possible from an administration point of view, keeping things moving. Much other work is done behind the scenes to arrange such this event which is still the only true national radio controlled scale event with clearly defined judging and classes. Thanks to all those who came along, as without competitors there would no such event.