Night League Commentary 2014-2015

Posted on Thu, 30th April 2015 by Ian Sayer
Club News, Event Reports

Wessex Night League 2014-2015 Commentary and Post Event comments.

Wessex Night League 2014-2015 – Final Results Congratulations to the winners: Charlotte Thornton of Sarum, Chris Branford of WIM and Dale Paget of WSX. It’s been another exciting night season. Charlotte has won for the second time in three years, just shows that the cream will rise to the top. Same for the men with Chris winning in the handicap and Dale the non-handicap, both for the second year running. Last year I wrote “….we introduced the ‘non-handicap’ league to give the M21’s something to aim for. The winner this year being M50 Dale Paget! Tim Morgan would probably have won if he had attended enough events”. So no change there then Participation is up again with a 15% increase in the number of competitors listed on the results. I haven’t analysed it, but I get the impression more people turned up for more events this year as well. The 16 race format with about half Urban and half Forest seems to work well. The 2105/16 league is taking shape as I write this. Female: 1 st Charlotte Thornton SARUM 2 nd Carolyn Dent SARUM 3 rd Kirsty Staunton WIM Male: 1 st Chris Branford WIM 2 nd Dale Paget WSX 3 rd Ian Sayer WSX Non Handicap: 1 st Dale Paget WSX 2 nd Andy Snell Sarum 3 rd Jason Falconer WSX.

Mon 6th Oct, Bournemouth, 

The Wessex Night League kicked off with an excellent opener at Kings Park, enticing the same numbers as for last year. Well planned by Julie Astin, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Even Dale couldn’t find a control in the wrong place and duly won on the night. Rumour has it he was spurred on by the absence of one or two competitors not having returned from running abroad that weekend. Rob came a very creditable second but if we look at the scoring it is the ladies who are taking an early lead. Jane is obviously keen to retain the lovely trophy from last year but she is going to be pushed hard by Carolyn. With 16 races and 7 to count the league is going from strength to strength. If you are looking for some technical O training you could do worse than have a go – it certainly focuses the mind!

Mon 3rd Nov, Sherborne 

Some excellent results from Sherborne. Most people had improved their scores than from a month earlier. Andy Snell certainly had a much better run, but top spots go to Dale Paget for a second straight win and a superb run from Carolyn Dent who now tops the league, taking over from Jane Morgan. Its certainly the ladies that are leading the way this year. Good to see some friends from further afield including QO and Kerno.

Mon 10th Nov, Salisbury City 

What an amazing turnout for the Salisbury City Night Race, 53 entries. The most for any Wessex Night League to date. Charlotte, Ricky, Liz and Mark did a great job keeping everyone amused. I just hope the locals at The Five Bells weren’t too put out! Tim Morgan showed his class by getting all the controls 10 minutes faster than anyone else. Only a few people plumped for the ‘bonus’ route and quite a few of those that didn’t were ruing that decision as they had plenty of time to spare. No change of the top three in the League with Carolyn holding her position after scoring the same points as Jane. Chris Branford is on the move as is Lyn. Tim has to be favourite for the non handicap title if he gets to enough events. Keep an eye on your websites as some of the later events are changing dates – more later.

Thurs 13th Nov, Southsea Sea Front 

Another excellent turnout and a good course from what I’ve been told. For those who enjoy such things a few early stats: After 4 races we have 74 scoring runs compared to 58 last year, an increase in participation of 27%. last year after 4 events there was just one runner (Andy Snell) who had competed in all four. This year we have 7 (including Andy again).

In the league, with 14 of the top 15 competing at Southsea there is very little change in the top 10. Dale now has outright hold of 2nd place and Carolyn still has the lead. Highest move up is Ian Sayer; four places to 10th. Looking further down the field Mary Nixon has moved up 12 places to 13th and will definitely be in the mix if she gets to enough events.

Sat 15th Nov, Silchester Common 

Judging from the times some of you were out the SNC it looks like it was quite a challenge. However when you see from the splits some long ‘mistakes’ from experienced navigators it does raise some questions. I shouldn’t really be commenting as I wasn’t there, but its an observation from looking at the results. As the SNC isn’t a score event like the others in the series I have to be creative with the scoring and use minutes per k. I think this is fair and for most the scores are pretty close to an average of their previous scores. Some are a fair bit different and I put this down to a bad (or good) run on the night. The SNC scores come with a health warning in so far as I haven’t given a score to Jamie Ranson, who had the fastest mpk on the night. Jamie hasn’t competed in any of the league so far, but if he competes in any of the remaining Wessex League events then I will have to go back and recalculate and all your SNC scores will reduce by 27%.

In the league it will come as no surprise to say that those that didn’t run at the SNC have moved down the pecking order. Chris Branford is up to second and Rob Hick to 4th. Lots of movement in the places outside the top 10. Ian Peirce up 8 to 12th, Chris Turner up 9 and Sally Calland up 6 to 13th. Sally could upset the usual leaders if she continues running as she did at the SNC, becoming the Army Womans Champion in the process – congratulations. In the Non Handicap League Andy Snell has taken over from Dale, with Rob in third.

Sat 22nd Nov, Golden Cap

Six races done and for an event at the extremities of the region a fair turnout. Certainly far better than the 1 competitor we had last year at a venue not far from Golden Cap! Carolyn still tops the table and little movement in the top ten. Chris Turner has moved up 5 places to 9th. Outside the top 10 Ian Sayer is up 4 to 12th and Tim Houlder up 13 to 16th.

Dale has returned to the top of the Non Handicap league with Rob Hick 2nd. Chris and Ian move up the most, up 11 to 6th for Chris and up 18 to 9th for Ian. Broadstone on 1st December will be the 7th race in the series so Brighton on the 20th could be when we see some significant changes to the league table. Don’t forget to let Gavin know if you want a place in the minibus for Brighton [email protected]

Mon 1st Dec, Broadstone

Race 7 completed . Carolyn still leads but we may see things changing after Brighton when a number of competitors will complete their 7th event, then from the Poole race onwards worst scores will start to be discarded. So everything still to play for. Jason moves up five places due to his organisers points. In the Non Handicap league Andy Snell has moved up to 3rd. Dale still leads and with 5 maximum points, looks set to collect a total of 3,500 and be unbeatable. But as he points out with 9 races still to go someone could still come along and also get the maximum. That would tax the compiler on how to separate them!

Sat 20th Dec, Brighton 

Even with 8 races still to go Brighton has clarified things quite considerably. All bets are now officially off. Carolyn to win the League and Dale to win the non handicap league. Dale just needs to win one of the remaining races to be untouchable. In the League its difficult to see who can topple Carolyn. Dale can only score a maximum of 633 and Carolyn has already topped this in 5 races. Chris Branford stands an outside chance but needs some of the fast boys like Dale not to run. Mary Nixon might challenge if she gets to enough races and the same applies to Jane Morgan and Kirsty Staunton. Outside the top 10 Robin Smith is up 8 and Kirsty Staunton up 10. In the non handicap race Ian Sayer is up 15 to 6th and Robin Smith up 22 to 11th.

Mon 5th Jan, Poole Town 

A bountiful turnout, a superb venue and a challenging course. Thanks to all who came, you seemed to enjoy yourselves. Its not easy to produce a good score event. Control sites have to well thought out, as your route could bring you in from any direction and I try to make your brain frazzle when working out the optimum route. Judging from the splits this succeeded as there were only two identical routes taken. Tim was victorious with a four second victory over Dale, Tim did ask what I thought was the optimum route – “Haven’t got a clue” said I. Sorry to those that noticed the two transposed controls. It didn’t seem to phase the score event competitors but sincere apologies to Yvette on the linear course who was at the right place but didn’t punch as it was the wrong number so thought she was wrong. Thanks to all the helpers and to Emma from “Just Bean Ground”, the venue for the evening.

In the Leagues there is little change. On the Handicap, Julie is up 1 place, Ian Jane and Kirsty up 3, Tim Colin and Sally up 4. Dale now has maximum points and whilst he wont win outright has to stay sharp to fend off the challenge from Chris. Carolyn has to hope Tim and Dale keep Charlotte and Mary’s scores low in the forthcoming 7 races. Lots of scope for changes in the minor places though. In the Non Handicap Dale has maximum points and cant be beaten. Tim could draw if he wins 5 of the last 7 races and theoretically someone could come out of the woodwork and win all the last 7 races to tie.

Thurs 15th Jan, Romsey 

From Mary Nixon: It was great to have such a good turnout on the eastern extremes of the Wessex area. Romsey is a typical old market town with several areas of modern housing. I enjoyed going round my local patch but not convinced going east first was the best idea. However I was put off by knowing it would be very dark in the Memorial Park! It was a shame that control 113 went on the blink causing a lot of problems with the results. It was restarted 3 times! Terry Smith worked very hard to solve all the queries with this. How did people feel about using the Emit tags with the touch free controls. Colin is interested to have any thoughts/comments in this type of map. The original map was a training map drawn by hand by John Horton for his own use. It has been extended over the years as the town has grown and been updated in presentation. Once the new 800 house estate in the N.E.corner has been finished and perhaps another 250 estate going up near there it may be worth doing a proper urban map. Thanks to the planners Colin Hicks and Kevin Bratcher, Terry Sankey for control hanging, Di and Terry Smith for computing, plus Bill and Barbara Davidson, Roger Pleasant and Rob Finch who collected controls.

In the League very little change, the top five staying the same. However everyone else is catching them up. Mary Nixon is up 5 places, Kirsty up 2, Colin Hicks up 4 (shows what organiser points can do for you!), Jeff, Becca and Sally all up 3 or 4 places. In the Non Handicap the top 6 stay the same. Jason moves up 3, Colin and Tim are both up 5. Tim could draw with Dale if he wins 4 of the last 6 races. The league is certainly thriving, last year the average turnout was 30. This year its nearer 40.

Thurs 29th Jan,

An excellent event at Eastleigh, some words from Organiser Colin further below. Please take your pick from A or B: A) To make things even more interesting I am not going to publish the league tables until 20 Feb when there will be three races left. Or B) I’ve just realised the spreadsheet is on my computer in France and I’m in Portugal till 17th Feb. Gavin.

From Colin: Everyone seemed to enjoy the event and map area. It was good to get a 30+ turnout. I think the decision to extend the Fleming Park map westwards across the M3 proved a good one and made the area very suitable for a WNL event, providing a great variety of urban terrain. I will take on board the comments I got about some of the smaller alleyways and gaps needing to be widened out to improve the map clarity at 1:5,000.

Thanks to Ian Sayer for telling me that he met an annoyed resident, who complained that competitors were taking a short cut through his front garden! I know that competitors get the “red mist” syndrome when competing, but the olive green out of bounds does mean exactly that, do please take more care in places where “open plan” estates that have no front garden walls, stick to the tarmac unless an area is mapped as yellow. We do not want to bring our sport into disrepute. Thanks to all the SOC helpers who made the event possible and to Allan Farrington for the touchfree EMIT kit.

I wish to also put on record my thanks for the help I received from the following corporate organisations that allowed controls to be placed on their property.
Alison Andrews and Trevor White of Kier
Karl Golder of B & Q
John Stansfield of Ageas Insurance

Mon 2nd Feb, Bournemouth

It may have been the coldest day of the year so far, so well done all those that turned out. It was unfortunate that Chris in his haste to put out the controls for Becca before it got dark, hung a flag on the wrong knoll in a bit of woodland on the W. side of the area: as it was the closest 50 pointer, everyone went for it! Fortunately everyone who found the tag on the correct knoll was credited. Some people, of course, just got the wrong knoll first time, punched and ran on. Becca had decided against an odds/evens race, which made for a very quick, fast run for most people. Nearly half of the field got all the controls inside the hour, with Dale taking a mere 35 minutes to clean up, but on a bitterly cold evening in temperatures below zero, no-one was complaining! Comments from Becca: For the first event I have ever planned, it was great to have almost 30 people running. It’s good to have an area with the variety of woods, park and housing estate in a relatively small space. Competitors commented they enjoyed the challenge of the ‘paths’ in the woods (some more than others!) Another fantastic run from Dale Paget, closely followed by Andy Snell and Roger Crickmoor. Frida Forshallen was the first women and in 4th place overall. Thanks must go to Chris Branford for helping me to plan and put out controls and to my dad, Cris Ellis, and Lynne and Chris for control collection. League results will appear on 20 Feb.

Sat 14th Feb, Holton Lee 

First my apologies for the break in transmission. I have now been reunited with my computer and the league has been updated for Fleming Park, Slades Farm and Holton Lee. Just three more races to go on what has been an excellently attended series. In the Handicap competition the ladies are ruling the roost. With six people in contention the only male flying the flag is Chris Branford. Carolyn is still favourite but Charlotte and Chris are creeping ever closer.

Three others still in with a shout, should they score well at the last three events, are Mary Nixon, Kirsty Staunton and Jane Morgan, now fully recovered from her calf injury as displayed by her recent wins in Portugal. In the Non Handicap league its the reverse, with Becca Ellis and Carolyn the only women in the top 10. Dale is going to win as I have it on good authority that Tim Morgan wont make at least one of the next two races and as he is planning Lyndhurst will score 480 for that, so well done Dale. Dale has only missed one of the league races to date. Second and third place for Andy and Chris also look pretty secure, but forth to tenth look likely to change. Becca could make forth as could Frida, but my money is on Jason to bridge the 12 point gap to Ian.

Don’t forget to email Eric Whapples if you want to run on that very special place of Brownsea Island. If you don’t then there wont be a place on the boat for you.

Sat 21st Feb Vernditch 

Hmmm, After Vernditch you would think with only two races left things would start to become a little clearer on the eventual winner, but the top of the Handicap table is getting tighter and less clear. Carolyn still holds her pole position gained at the second race. Symmetry being what it is, we could well see Carolyn loose the championship on the last race. Chris Branford has narrowly moved ahead of Charlotte into second and if he scores as well as Vernditch in the last two races could win. Charlotte has to score as well as she did in Poole in the last two races and she has done that three times. Dale in forth has the maximum handicap score he can attain so I’m afraid he is only going to go one direction and it isn’t up. Kirsty who jumps to 5th after her 7th scoring race needs to score similarly to Brighton or Vernditch, a tall order, but within Kirsty’s capabilities. Mary, who has a couple of low scores to discard just needs to run consistently well in the last two races. Julie Astin is theoretically in with a chance, but let’s just say I won’t be putting any money on it (sorry Julie!).

Things are a lot clearer in the Non Handicap league. Dale has won – congratulations. Andy Snell is a likely second unless Tim Morgan wins on Brownsea, in which case he will be second. If Tim doesn’t go to Brownsea then third place is up for grabs. Chris currently hold the position, but Ian, Jason, Rob or Tim could all move up and it may well depend on who gets the second lot of Organiser points on Brownsea. Don’t forget to email Eric Whapples if you want to go to Brownsea Island as I wouldn’t recommend the swim!


Mon 2nd Mar
, Brownsea Island   Pics by Chris Branford

Brownsea Island is such a special place that more words than normal can only do it justice. A perfect still evening with clear skies greeted the ferry arrivals at Brownsea for the penultimate Wessex Night League. Taking the standard one hour score format, runners were preparing for collecting as many controls as possible over the whole mile and half length of the island. Last years massive storm damage has been cleared and so for the first time in years there are several log stacks. With the tree fall now cleared, main tracks and the 85% coverage of white runnable forest on the map provides a fantastic area for Orienteering competition. Two ferry loads kitted up and awaited the dark. Starting in the church field the nearby lagoon nature reserve with its thousands of wintering birds added a symphony of pre-roosting birdsong in the growing dark. Starting at 2 minute intervals Eric set off club members from SARUM, WSX, WIM, BAOC, SOC and SO for the race. Controls in new positions again from fresh planning included a couple of deep pits, the location of second world war bombing and some interesting new re-entrants. Taking in the whole island runners were challenged by open heath, steep slopes and earth banks that are hard to locate in pitch darkness. Competition was tight with 5 collecting all controls, and the top 4 finishing within a minute. Frida F showing brilliant accuracy she reported no difficulties, something in the Swedish genes perhaps? Jason F and Chris T took similar routes over the Southern higher side of the island to the Western end, before using Dales usual tactic of zigzagging between the remaining controls on the way back. Seems to be the technique on Night events, as there often isn’t a clear sequence of control picking over a whole course. Although both double dibbing one control Chris beat Jason on time to first place, with Andy Snell in third after Frida in second. Everyone loves the car-free peace of Brownsea, the ferry ride and superb forest. Eric is working on next years event already! Thanks to Jason for that report.

In the League, as predicted its all change, just one race earlier than anticipated. Chris Branford had a cracking run to overtake Carolyn, who I’m sure would have loved to run had other commitments not intervened. But an even better race by Charlotte Thornton saw her leapfrog both Carolyn and Chris into first place. Kirsty Staunton had her chance but didn’t preform as well on the night compared to others. With one race left it is theoretically possible for either Chris or Carolyn to overtake Charlotte, but Chris would have to better his highest score by 66 points and Carolyn by 98 – a very tall order. In the Non Handicap league, Jason, as I predicted has taken third place and could, if he won at Lynhurst, beat Andy Snell to second place by 1 point! Feida has overtaken Becca for first lady, but its too close to call.

Sat 7th Mar, Lyndhurst 

Tim and Jane were pleased to have such a good turnout for the last event of the league at Lyndhurst. It was the first time Matley has been used for a night event and combined well with the urban part to form an interesting area. The ‘odds and evens’ added to the challenge particularly those not used to the format. Well done to all those who took part and thanks to all the helpers , Colin and Simon for the map and the cricket club for use of their clubhouse.

What a great series of events it’s been. Right from the off at Kings Park back at the beginning of October the competition has been fierce but friendly. Carolyn Dent to her surprise, took the league lead at the second race at Sherborne and to her chagrin held that lead right up till a week from the end of the series. Had she been able to get to the penultimate event at Brownsea then it may have been a different story. But then isn’t that what Orienteering is always about: the ‘if only’ syndrome? Charlotte Thornton is this years winner with Chris Branford in second just two points ahead of Carolyn. That’s the equivalent of a few seconds out of 960. We had a magnificent 16 races this winter, with no cancellations due to bad weather unlike last season. 7 urban, 7 forest and a couple of hybrids. Salisbury City had an amazing 53 competitors. Including the Southern Night Championships and the Brighton City race seemed to be welcomed. Lots of people could have won the league Julie, Kirsty, Jane, Mary, Dale, Ian etc etc, again it’s all down to ‘if only’.
In the non handicap league Dale won an unprecedented 11 races. His only real worry being Tim Morgan. Tim didn’t manage to get to enough races this year, maybe next year Tim? Competition for the minor places was fascinating with Andy Snell always favourite for second, but third was up for grabs right to the last race. Jason became very competitive when he realised he was in contention and ended up a deserved third for his endeavours. The Wessex Night League is intended as a low key bit of fun during the winter months and although it has guidelines for the races there is scope for some lateral thinking to get the most out of some unlikely areas. Wessex in this case refers to the area of Wessex as opposed to being a WSX preserve. Most of the races are put on with the minimum of manpower and just because someone has put out a few of the controls, I have never seen why they still can’t compete if they want. The organisers points (two people per race) have played a major part this year, with a number of people doing well on the back of helping out. My sincere thanks go to the small band of dedicated people who have put on the events this season, my thanks also to the clubs: WSX, WIM, Sarum and SOC for their support.


Orienteering Club