ARDF Enthusiasts Win Medals at 14th Annual USA National Championships
Newcomers and long-time enthusiasts turned out in early June to take part in the 14th USA National Championships of Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF). The events took place June 5-8 near Boston.
The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) sets the rules for ARDF competitions. The object of ARDF — also called foxtailing and radio-orienteering — is always to find as many of the required hidden transmitters as possible within the shortest time, and then navigate to the finish line, using only direction-finding equipment, a compass, and the provided map. Classic competitions on 2 meters and 80 meters take place on separate days, with up to five hidden transmitters deployed in an area of about 1000 acres. Each transmitter is on the air for 60 seconds at a time in rotating sequence.
There are also two new events, both on 80 meters. The sprint is a shortened course with 10 transmitters and a faster transmitter cycle. Foxoring is a combination of orienteering and foxhunting, in which competitors receive maps marked with the approximate locations of 1 dozen very low power transmitters to find. Competitors for all events are divided into age categories, six for men, five for women, with medals awarded to the winners in each category.
Organizing these championships and setting all the courses was Vadim Afonkin, KB1RLI, of Boston. As a youth in his native Russia, Afonkin learned ARDF and went on to win awards in the sport. After coming to the US, he first participated in the USA National Championships in 2003. Since then he has competed in almost every US championship event. At the 2012 World Championships in Serbia, he captured gold, silver, and bronze medals for the US, competing against radio-orienteers from 33 countries. Assisting Afonkin at the June event were members of the Cambridge Sports Union and the New England Orienteering Club (NEOC), which also provided the course maps.
The top US finishers in each age/gender category were Leszek Lechowicz, NI1L (M40, 2 meters, 80 meters, sprint, foxor); Nicolai Mejevoi (M50, 2 meters, 80 meters, sprint, foxor); Bill Noyce, AB1AV (M60 sprint); Bob Cooley, KF6VSE (M70, 2 meters, 80 meters, sprint); Alla Mezhevaya (W35, 2 meters, sprint); Addison Bosley, KJ4VCV (M21, 2 meters, 80 meters, foxor); Joseph Huberman, K5JGH (M60, 2 meters, 80 meters, foxor); Jen Harker, W5JEN (W35, 80 meters, foxor), and Marji Garrett, KJ4ZKC (W50, 80 meters).
As in many European countries, the US national championships are open, and visitors from other countries are welcome. Participants compete for individual medals in an overall division that includes everyone. This year, visiting competitors came from Canada, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine. Stateside radio-orienteers enjoyed comparing notes on ARDF equipment and techniques with them.
Complete results of all championship events are available online on the Homing In website. The site includes many photos from the event, as well as more information about the growing sport of ARDF.
The 17th ARDF World Championships will take place September 6-13 in the mountains of Kazakhstan. Invitations to join the US team are now being issued, based on results of the 2014 USA Championships near Boston and the 2013 USA Championships in North Carolina. Up to three competitors in each age/gender category may be on a national team. — Joe Moell, K0OV, ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding Coordinator