Nearly 50 radio direction finding enthusiasts took part in the 13th USA Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) national championships, held in the Uwharrie National Forest near Asheboro, North Carolina, in October. This year’s weeklong US competition was combined with the Seventh ARDF Championships of IARU Region 2 (the Americas). ARDF competition rules are established by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU).
“The object is always to find as many of the required transmitters as possible in the shortest time and then navigate to the finish line, using only one’s own direction-finding equipment plus a compass and the provided map,” explained ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, KØOV. “There are classic competitions on separate days on the 2 meter and 80 meter bands, with up to five transmitters in an area of about 1000 acres.”
Moell said the competition included two new events, both on 80 meters. “The sprint is a shortened course with 10 transmitters and a faster transmitter cycle,” he explained. “Foxoring is a combination of orienteering and foxhunting, in which competitors receive maps marked with the approximate locations of a dozen very low-power transmitters that they are to find. Competitors are divided into six age categories for males and five for females, with medals awarded to winners in each category.”
Taking first-place awards among US competitors were Vadim Afonkin, KB1RLI, (M40 2 meter, 80 meter, foxor); Ruth Bromer, WB4QZG, (W60 2 meter, 80 meter, foxor); Bob Cooley, KF6VSE, (M70 foxor); Marjorie Garrett, KJ4ZKC, (W50 2 meter, 80 meter); Jay Hennigan, WB6RDV, (M60 2 meter, 80 meter, sprint); Joseph Huberman, K5JGH, (M60 foxor); Lori Huberman (W21 2 meter, 80 meter, sprint, foxor); Kuon Hunt, KB7WRG, (W60 sprint); Harley Leach, KI7XF, (M70 2 meter, 80 meter, sprint); Nicolai Mejevoi (M40 sprint); Alla Mezhevaya (W35 2 meter, 80 meter, sprint, foxor); George Neal, KF6YKN, (M50 2 meter, 80 meter, sprint, foxor), and Csaba Tiszttarto (M21 sprint). Representing Canada were Valeri Gueorguiev (M50) and Nicholas Roethe, DF1FO, (M60), who was first among Region 2 competitors on 2 meters and 80 meters.
Championship organizers were Event Director Joseph Huberman, K5JGH, and Registrar Ruth Bromer, WB4QZG. Setting the courses were Nadia Scharlau and Charles Scharlau, NZØI. All four have been consistent medalists at previous USA Championships and have competed for the US in the ARDF World Championships. Additional volunteers were members of the Backwoods Orienteering Klub (BOK), which also provided the event maps.
As in many European countries, the US national championships are open, meaning that visitors from other countries are welcome. Visitors compete for individual medals in an overall division that includes everyone. This year, visiting competitors came from China, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and United Kingdom. Stateside radio-orienteers enjoyed comparing notes with them on ARDF equipment and techniques.
Complete results of all events are available on the BOK website. More than 90 photos have been posted on Moell’s Homing In website, which includes much more information about the growing sport of ARDF.
Plans are already underway for next year’s national championships. These are expected to take place in early June, in time for selection of ARDF Team USA, which will travel to Kazakhstan for the 17th ARDF World Championships in September 2014.
“A maximum of three competitors in each age-gender category may be on a nation’s team,” Moell pointed out. “They will be selected from the best performers at the 2013 and 2014 USA Championships.”