Five HAMNET operators were requested by the event organizers and we had one extra operator. The operators were Peter ZS1PDE, Alister ZS1OK, Phil ZS1VCC, Don ZS1DON, Douw ZS1DGK and Hendrik ZS1EEE who joined us for his first Hamnet sports event. Don and Phil were mobile operators on the western side of the trail, whereas Douw and Hendrik were stationed near golf course, which was at the end of the descent down the mountain, while Peter and Alister operated the base at the event start/finish . Multiple commercial VHF frequencies of the event organizers were used and one additional amateur simplex frequency was used as backup communications among the HAMNET operators.
With the splendid spring weather of the day, between two cold spells, the weather was ideal for an event of this nature. The operators met with the event coordinators at 0700 for a kick-off meeting with some additional support options being suggested to provide improved event support and better radio coverage.
The event was concluded by 1330 and all departed with some taking the picturesque coastal route back via Gordans Bay to Cape Town.
At the base station we had two identical radios (Kenwood D710s) and identical antennas (X-50’s) with about 10m horizontal separation between antennas. The one mast was about 1.5m higher than the other and had vastly superior performance than the lower antenna (full 5 bars versus 1 bar on the S-meter!). There were houses with metal roofs in proximity to us, so next year we will relocate the Base to a potentially better site – and in doing so also move to a quieter spot in terms of PA systems and music from the event.
At the base we had a table set up outside the vehicles, but the noise and energy from the event was such that it was better operating from within the vehicle than sitting outside and enjoying the sea breeze and the view of the beach. In noisy environments it is better to work from inside a vehicle. Having a large A3 map on the table assisted with operational discussions.
For the mobile operators a new position was used for the first time, but fortunately DON ZS1DON had the perfect vehicle for the bundu-bashing that was required to reach the operational point subsequent to the heavy rains of the previous days.
Source: Alister van Tonder ZS1OK