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Massachusetts to Host USA ARDF Championships June 5-8


The USA ARDF (Amateur Radio Direction Finding) Championships return to the Northeast this year. ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, said on-foot foxhunting fans of all skill levels will gather near Boston on the first weekend of June for 4 days of intense competition.

Activities begin on Thursday, June 5 with a 10-transmitter short-course sprint competition on 80 meters. The following day is the foxoring event, a combination of RDF and classic orienteering on 80 meters in which participants navigate to marked locations on their maps where very low-power transmitters can be found nearby. Saturday morning will be the classic full-course 2 meter main event with five transmitters in a very large forest, followed in the evening by the banquet and awards presentation. A similar full-course 80 meter main event takes place Sunday morning, with awards presented afterwards.

National ARDF championships typically take place in late summer or early fall. This year, the ARDF World Championships will take place during early September, however. To provide plenty of time for selecting Team USA members and planning overseas travel, the 2014 USA ARDF Championships must take place 3 months before.

Vadim Afonkin, KB1RLI, is this year’s lead organizer, event host, and course-planner. Afonkin also organized the Boston championships in 2009. As a youth in his native Russia, he learned ARDF and was rewarded for his success. After coming to the US, he first participated in the national championships in 2003, winning silver and bronze medals in the five-fox M21 category. He has competed in almost every US competition since then, winning numerous gold medals. Since 2004 Afonkin has been to every ARDF World Championships competition as a member of ARDF Team USA. At the 2012 World Championships in Serbia, he captured gold, silver, and bronze medals.

ARDF championship rules are set by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). For scoring and awards, participants are divided into 11 age/gender categories. In the classic ARDF championships, competitors start in small groups comprised of different categories. As they seek the hidden transmitters, they navigate through the forest from the starting corridor to the finish line, a distance of 4 to 10 kilometers. They plot their direction-finding bearings on orienteering maps that show terrain features, elevation contours, and vegetation type.

The USA ARDF Championships are open to anyone who can safely navigate the woods by themselves. A ham radio license is not required. Each participant competes as an individual; any teamwork or GPS use is forbidden. Competitors bring their own direction-finding gear to the events, although extra gear is sometimes available for loan. Competitors may not transmit on the course, except in emergencies.

The USA ARDF Championships are an ideal opportunity to watch and learn from the best radio-orienteers in the US and from around the world; competitors from other countries are expected to attend. Stateside winners of these championships will be considered for membership in ARDF Team USA, which will travel to the mountains of Kazakhstan for the 17th ARDF World Championships. Up to three competitors in each age-gender category may be on a nation’s team.

Registration is still open, and an online entry form, detailed schedules, frequencies, lodging information and registration forms are available on the Boston ARDF website. An e-mail reflector is available for Q&A with the organizers as well as for coordinating transportation and arranging equipment loans.

Basic information on international-style transmitter hunting is on the “Homing In” Web site, including rules and signal parameters. This site includes equipment ideas for 2 meters and 80 meters, plus photos from previous competitions. Information about the Amateur Radio Direction Finding Fund is in the ARRL website. — Thanks to Joe Moell, K0OV, ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding Coordinator 



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