It sounds like a cliché but organising the course for 2019 Australasian Championships was a team effort. In May 2017 we were looking at the Buckland/Nugent area just east of Hobart but from April 2018 onwards we were focussed on the St Helens area. St Helens offered greater navigational challenges with varying terrain: beach and coastal, granite terrain, former tin-mining areas and some marshland.
In the early stages the main issue was creating the base map. Although the event area is undeniably scenic, a successful event required an accurate map to be fair on the entrants. Bernard spent untold weeks working on the map, pulling together data from TheList (Tas Govt), aerial photographs and processing LiDAR data to produce the contours, streams and the patches of dense vegetation. Bernard and Sara Brain made several trips to the proposed area to test the map and to carry out map corrections.
The initial checkpoint layout was Bernard’s concept with fine tuning by Jeff Dunn and myself. The bulk of the setting and vetting work was completed in field trips of about 3 days each in April, July and August 2019. After the checkpoint locations had been finalised, Jeff Dunn did a wonderful job of allocating point scores to controls which assisted in making it very hard for competitors to choose an optimal route.
As for the actual event we are very happy with how it went. The weather was a bit grim leading up to the weekend, but was fine during the event. We were aware that the area was physically tough and given that many controls were navigationally challenging, the safest route between checkpoints was often indirect. We came up with a straight-line distance of 108 kms to visit every control and we were pretty confident that that was enough. As it turned out the top scoring teams covered about 80km straight line distance with a total climb around 4000m!
All entrants returned in a healthy, although perhaps beaten-up state and only a handful of teams finished in the penalty period. No team was late, and there were no serious injuries. Phew. Looking at the event results and visualisations (arc2019.rt.asn.au/results) we can see an even spread of where the teams went with every one of the 80 controls being visited. For those at the pointy end of the competition, navigation and overall route choice made the difference.
We were concerned that the checkpoints in the public areas may be vulnerable so Jeff Dunn went to some lengths to create lockable Navlight punches. It turned out that the Navlight punches and checkpoint flags were perfectly safe – however the water drop bottles were both portable and attractive and we had two of eleven water drops stolen before and during the event. This caused considerable scrambling by the patrolling crews, but as far as we know it didn’t impact on any teams.
There are lots of people to thank, which Peter Tuft has done below. We are grateful to the private landowners who let us use their land, in particular to the Chapple family who own the Priory Hall which was used as the ANC.
Rogaining Tasmania is, compared to most Australian rogaining associations, rather small and our capacity to run bush events is limited. We can be proud of putting on an event that lived up to the standard required of an Australasian Championships.
Gary Carroll. (RT Prez & an event setter)