Well, the April 2012 'Dry Run' NAR-ish contest is in the books. Overall, I think it went pretty well and that is what I've heard from participants as well. This write-up covers both the contest and some thoughts I had while preparing for the contest and a bit of post-event analysis. My hope is that we can do it again sometime and that others who did not get involved this time might chose to join in.
To summarize the event, we had 8 participants total over 4 separate events. The events flown were B Altitude, C-Payload Altitude, 55 Second Duration and Spot Landing.
Per NAR rules, Spot Landing was the first event for participants to fly. A flag was planted to the right of the runway and the goal was to land as close as possible to the flag. Brad Shea got the closest with a distance of 20.4m. Steve Brown was next nearest at 23.5m and John Bergsmith finished out the top 3 with 35.6m. As the flag stood there all day, there were other non-contest fliers who recovered very close as well. Roy Potter ended up landing practically on top of the flag with a 3 motor cluster. That shows that this contest is easy for anyone to fly and with a bit of luck, you can get an almost perfect score!
Next, fliers could choose what to fly and when, but I'll summarize altogether. B-Altitude was won by Wayne Hill with a flight of 197m. Second place went to Sandy Houston at 188m and the bronze went to Roy Potter who had 187m. All 3 placing fliers flew minimum diameter BT-20 or similar based rockets. Many people have these on hand and they are commonly available at hobby shops. Rockets such as the Estes Wizard etc can absolutely win an event like this.
The C-Payload Altitude event requires that a flier use a C impulse engine to carry a 'NAR-Standard' payload to the highest altitude. This elusive payload is just a BT-20 size tube, filled with sand that measures a specific length and weight. These were provided for contest use. Since the payload is a BT-20, you can't fit it inside of a BT-20 rocket. Various rockets were flown in this contest from the winner's minimal diameter Quest 20mm tube based rocket to larger BT-50+ rockets. To do best in this event, as shown by the excellent altitude results of winner Steve Brown (324m!), the Quest 20mm tube or a home-made tube that is as small as possible while still encasing the payload makes sense. Second place was earned by Wayne Hill with a flight of 256m and third went to Sandy Houston with 231m. All 3 top finishers used Estes C6 type engines.
The 55 second duration contest had the most variety of flights, from minimum diameter birds to larger rockets. Rockets that were up to 3.3# and G impulse were allowed, even though nobody chose to go this route. Basically, any rocket under this limit would qualify and could be flown with a parachute or streamer. This particular contest type of event could well be the easiest one to enter in future in future contests if you're interested. The winning time of 49s was turned in by Roy Potter, while second went to Steve Brown (69s) and third belonged to Wayne Hill with a time of 32s.
The NAR scoring system gives specific weights for various events throughout the contest allowing for an Event Champion to be crowned. The April 2012 'Dry Run' Contest Champion is Wayne Hill with a combined score of 246 pts. Silver goes to Steve Brown with a combined score of 243 pts and the third goes to Roy Potter with a score of 160 pts. Since I was keeping track of the scoring throughout the event, I found an interesting quirk with NAR scoring methods. I call it a quirk, in that it is how the rules work, but I found it odd, but not at all an error. As the day was coming to an end, Steve was in the lead with Wayne trailing by only a few points. Steve was currently in the lead in the 55 second duration event and he and Wayne had made all of their flights. Seeing the other scores turned in by other fliers made me believe that Steve would be the overall winner, however Roy turned in an excellent duration flight right at the end, which relegated Steve to second during that event, lowering his overall score by a few points - putting Wayne in the lead. It goes to show that flying well in all events is important, but also that other people's flights can affect the overall scores in a way that isn't obvious outright.
Reflecting on the event overall, I can say that I feel that it went well and participants generally had a good time. I think it is probably important for a future Sanctioned event to have a flier's meeting in the morning to layout the basic rules and any other event specific information. Also, the 3 altimeters provided for altitude flights ended up being a bit of a hold-up at times, as we had 2 altitude events with 8 possible fliers and one launch tower available. Adding some launch day resources (by the event organizer or individual fliers) should alleviate this bottle neck in the future. In typical ROCC flier fashion (not and insult & I'm guilty too!!!) many fliers waited until the last minute to figure out what to fly and how to fly it. The 2 fliers who placed #1 and #2 for the overall contest had obviously made a lot of preparations at home. I did notice some of the fliers rushing about at the last minute also seemed to be a bit flustered. I believe that the individual flier might have a bit more fun if some preparation at home prior to the contest was undertaken. This could be as simple as checking to make sure shock cords of an old faithful flier is still attached to making a contest specific rocket, even if its one from a kit. My 55 second duration bird, for example, had a big zipper from a previous flight I had forgotten about. I decided to break out one I hadn't flown in a while and randomly grabbed a streamer and a C engine - resulting in my whopping 22 second duration. It was still a good flight (with easy recovery) but I was a little miffed with myself for not flying what I had intended on flying which would have been much more competitive.
So, there you have it. The April 2012 'Dry Run' Contest is in the books. I think our club, ROCC NAR section 608, is prepared to hold a sanctioned event in the near future. This allows our club to accumulate national points as well as fliers to accumulate national points. Honestly, this may not mean much in the scheme of things, but it does offer an opportunity for members to try contest flying on a national scale if desired and for our club to participate in an aspect of the NAR that we haven't pursued in recent years.
So, if you're a NAR member that flies LPR and MPR rockets at many launches, feel free to participate, even if you don't fly all events. If you're not a NAR member, regretfully you aren't allowed to participate in a sanctioned contest for points, but becoming a NAR member is easy and has additional benefits. As a point of reference, though, I won't turn away a non-NAR member from contest flying for bragging rights. You won't be eligible for points during the event, so you couldn't place, but you can still enjoy the challenge of flying in a contest and checking your results against other fliers.
The next contest is likely months away, but feel free to submit an idea for a contest event, a name for the contest, etc in the forum. The eligible events are in the NAR pink book (http://nar.org/pinkbook/index.html). I look forward to hearing from everybody!