Course Setters' Report
The highlight was hearing from lots of competitors that they had enjoyed a great day. The cool weather gave many teams the chance to enjoy the bushy hinterland of the Central Coast, particularly Wambina Nature Reserve in the north of the course. Mardi was right, people did want to enjoy the bush as well as the beach. It was still warm enough for at least 3 teams to take the short cut across Wamberal Lagoon near 54, wading through at chest height.
We would have liked a checkpoint midway up Wamberal Beach, but couldn't refind the plaque we found on our first visit a year and a half ago. Gill, Matt and Matt swam across Avoca Lagoon from near 5K to 5H. If Mardi had had her way they would have picked up a 500 pointer on the island (maybe with a canoe to help them). She repeatedly fell into Wamberal Lagoon when a rope on her old sailboard kept breaking one day, so it's lucky we didn't have a checkpoint asking about the depth of mud in the centre of the lagoon.
We enjoyed setting questions which were apparently cryptic but hopefully clear when you were at the location. We liked No. 49, "How is money generated at this place? Answer = photos" at the site of the speed camera, and were glad Nihal and Richard liked it too. At 4B, the sign warned of the dangers of Black Angus cattle and sprayed blackberries, which we thought was an interesting combination (Mike and Debbie Hotchkis ensured they received their points by pointing out the sign also warned of dogs). We hoped most teams would slide down the spiral slippery dip at 4C to count the stainless steel plates. Another favourite was the tiny old Matcham Post Office (90). We warned Carmen at the Ken Duncan Gallery (No. 100) that competitors would have muddy feet, but she was still keen to have competitors inside, so we didn't use our original question "The plaque outside: When was Mr Duncan born? Answer = 1892".
Our helpers Buzz and Andrew paddled their sea kayaks from Palm Beach to Terrigal on Saturday afternoon before helping with the event. They were kinder than we would have been in placing the Fruity-Bix bars only a few metres into the cave on Kincumber Mountain (No. 103) rather than a several metre crawl to the back.
Inevitably there were some mistakes we made in our checkpoint positioning and questions, but competitors were kind in telling us of the mistakes. Sorry. No. 101 should have been marked as up a few contours- Andy and Alexa said that the problem with this control was that competitors who knew we climbed would look for it half way up the cliff. Mardi's place (No. 5F) was an easy checkpoint for the vetters, but without the house number needed some guessing by Andrew and Nicole Haigh & others.
One competitor was walking along the back of the beach and found a fish hook sticking out of his leg. Presumably he snagged the line. Andrew cut off most of it with the rogaining trailer tools, and after a quick visit to the Terrigal medical clinic the team were back for the finish.
We probably should have made the rules clearer. Shortly after finishing, two of the top mixed teams, all the way from Scandinavia, approached me and suggested that they should be disqualified for taking the out-of-bounds track from 51 to 61. They hadn't understood the "ribbons" marking the legal route nearby. I decided not to disqualify them as
- they hadn't understood the out-of-bounds and had come up to tell me about it afterwards;
- they had only benefited slightly; &
- it was not a championship event.
Many teams only went as close to each checkpoint as needed to see the answer, which was often a few hundred metres away. The next course setter could decide whether to explicitly allow this, or alternatively to choose questions requiring a closer approach.
Our novel finish procedures didn't work particularly well. A few minor glitches like control cards falling off the clothesline (easily solved with a shorter span) messed them up, so they could be given a better trial at another event.
We had a great support team. Vetting a fortnight before removed a few errors (plus Buzz persuaded Mardi not to use silly colours like teal) and produced lots of funny stories. Marcelle and Cameron returned very black from trying to ride their bikes through Wamberal Park to 56. We removed the question about the dive shop when the owner didn't like the vetter looking, let alone a few hundred people. Phil ran backwards and forwards terrorising the neighbourhood looking for a plaque on a seat at Avoca which had disappeared (the original clue for the steps at 3E) and counted the slippery dip plates at 4C. Andrew battled to find the cubby house near the stink pipes (5J), while being injured so even more of a stick man than usual.
Trish plunged in at the deep end in taking on the administration role, learning on probably the toughest event of the year (the Paddy Pallin is larger, but has no membership issues). Leigh provided calm assistance on the day while Cam was the parking professional. 1st Waitara Scouts did a great job, and have indicated that they are willing to help at other events. 250 scones were consumed at Granny's Kitchen, a popular spot for competitors to rest by the lake. Additional biscuits, fruit cake and cordial was bought during the event to cope with the huge demand.
Thanks to the 40 or so teams who plotted their courses on the extra maps. Most interesting. None of these teams headed south to Avoca Beach. A check of the control cards showed only 9 of the 130 odd teams in the event reached the Coke can in the centre of the beach (6B). A more skewed distribution than I'd predicted. Of these 9 teams, only 4 ventured across Kincumber Mountain (103) and of these 4, 2 teams didn't venture to the back of the cave and so thought it was only 3m deep. Lucky we didn't decide to check all the scores!
We think all the checkpoints were visited by at least 1 team, apart from Erina McDonald's (91) which was rather isolated. Only Mike & Debbie Hotchkis visited 16 & 3G in the south of the course.
We'll be back with another event in a few more years.