The M.P.B.A National Scale Finals, 2009

DAVE WOOLEY with his notebook and camera visits Hull

A national final is going to be a major undertaking for any club or organisation and generally the club that hosts such an event has either hosted the event previously or has organised other major events such as area qualifiers and is familiar with navigation course design. For 2009, West Hull Model Shipwrights (WHMS) had been in existence for a mere twelve months previously and this was their first event of this type at their sailing facility in Peter Pan Park, West Hull.

However, the organisation team for the event were no strangers to national competition and the OOD for the day was Dave Allen, well known for his regatta reports in the pages of this magazine, the course designer and builder was Ian Kennedy and they had been ably supported by the other club members. Peter Pan Park is within Costello Playing Fields, West Hull and Dave Allan’s directions for me were just perfect. As in 2008, the event was blessed by fine early Autumn sunshine with just a slight hint of the occasional ripple on the water. Also in attendance were the Hull Model Boat Group with a large static display of a number of their super highly detailed models, something appreciated by the organisers, modellers and the general public. These last are very important, because here in a public park the MPBA was very much on display, and creating interest in our hobby outside of our model boating circle is vital to the growth of our hobby.

The event

It’s worth mentioning that the final total mark for each competitor is a combination of scores. All competitors have two rounds on the navigation course with a maximum or 100 marks for each voyage and are also scored for ‘On the Water’ (OTW) appearance (maximum of 12 marks) which basically means that the model has to be floating correctly and sail in a ‘scale like’ manner in front of two judges. The Open Navigation Class has a maximum of 200 marks, the OTW marks being used as a tie break for final award positions if need be, but Kit and Semi-Exact which were the other two classes sailed on this occasion, also have the models judged statically with a maximum of 50 marks which are awarded by two judges considering workmanship, finish, scale fidelity, degree of difficulty etc. So these two classes have a maximum total of 262 marks.

Until recently, in Semi-Exact and Kit Classes a trophy was awarded for first, second and third and indeed there are still placings according to the total scores achieved, but now although the winner receives a trophy plus a perpetual award, all the competitors that achieve a score over a certain threshold receive either a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal. So it is quite possible to have an overall winner in these classes who achieves a gold medal, but also the second and third placed individuals could likewise be awarded gold. This would seem to be a fair and equitable system, particularly when the top scores can all be within one or two marks of each other. Navigation is also the only MPBA scale class that is open to non-MPBA members.

The course

This was designed by Ian Kennedy and didn’t look to daunting at first. It was well laid out, avoiding the problems of it being a distance eye sight test, but was on closer inspection quite challenging to make the event a real test of skill as was confirmed by the relatively few clear rounds achieved. The course was designed to allow for the operation of vessels both large and small using different dock areas for commencing the course, a slightly different route around the course depending on model size and on completion entering a finishing dock system that also took into account the size of the vessel being sailed.

The results

Kit Class

The skippers that entered the National Scale Final could certainly handle their vessels with consummate skill. For example John Pollitt with Tillopnoj, a pusher tug and coal barge, steered this long combination as if he himself where on the bridge of the vessel. His total score earned him a well deserved Silver medal in spite of his having one of the most difficult models to sail around the course.

Robin Lee sailed his well built Model Slipway Conserver to the overall winner’s position for this class with a total of 247.5 marks and he also gained one of only two gold medals awarded on the day. He was also awarded the TSB Trophy for craftsmanship and the Mercantile Trophy for best merchant vessel.

Not far behind was Ian Kennedy with his very nice S-305 Schnellboot from the Italeri kit (239.5 marks, silver medal) and Neil Bastiman with S-130, also from the Italeri kit, was third with 237 marks and a silver medal.

Semi-Exact Class

The only other gold of the day went to HDML 1384 (Harbour Defence Motor Launch) sailed and built by Paul Freshney with a total score of 245. It handled the course well, even showing what it could do at the end of the day at speed! The Northumbrian Trophy is awarded for best scale appearance on the water, but it was decided that although it would be awarded to Dave Evans with his RMAS Waterman, John Pollitt’s Sun XXVIII and Paul Freshney’s HDML 1384 should also receive medal awards because the judges felt they were all deserving. Ian Wallett scored 243 with HMS Snowflake (silver) and although the course was a challenge for larger models, Eric Austwick’s 1/48 scale Hunt Class destroyer HMS Grove scored 238 which also gained him a silver medal.

Open Navigation Class

Eric was the only competitor to score two full rounds in the competition with his 1:72 scale Flower Class corvette HMS Bluebell in Navigation Class and was therefore the winner. Andy Kelley was second with Stanforce and Ian Wallett was third with HMS Starling.

Judging and administration

The models in Kit and Semi-Exact Classes came under the scrutiny of the keen eyes of the MPBA pool of judges, on this occasion being Keith Young, Graham Castle, Tom Gorman, Ken Daniels, Paul Freshney and Dave Allan. They certainly don’t miss much when judging either statically or on the water and to put minds at rest, Paul had absolutely no involvement with judging any of the Semi-Exact models!

Administration was in the hands of Dot Wilson with Ian Wallett confirming the results and Ken Daniels helping to make sure it all went smoothly. Course judging was generally in the hands of WHMS members, This is a thankless task, but one that has to be done conscientiously and properly, and it was!


It was not easy selecting the models to be pictured here as they couldn’t all be included, so my apologies if anyone feels aggrieved. Spotting and judging infringements out on the course requires an eagle eye by the course judges and the navigation of a model into the confines of the touch dock ( a pointer had to be moved gently to a zero position without the model touching the sides of the dock) might have looked simple, but wasn’t.

West Hull Model Shipwrights have only ten members currently, but they certainly organised a very successful and efficiently run event. Hull City Council Park Rangers and Friends of Peter Pan Park helped by keeping the water clear of weed and roping off the competition area water and Karen Wood, the Hull City Mayor, also lent her support. So, congratulations to West Hull Model Shipwrights on achieving so much in such a short time frame.

I personally would like to thank all the organisers and competitors for making my visit very enjoyable and one to remember.