Calgary Amateur Radio Association

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Cochrane Rally 2018

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  • 13 Mar 2018 1:36 PM
    Reply # 5969832 on 5668131
    Patrick Spencer (Administrator)

    Good report  Garry.  Thanks. 

    We also have a few pictures taken by myself, VE6PDS from the Ambulance's point of view.  These are posted in our Gallery.

  • 12 Mar 2018 6:31 AM
    Reply # 5967033 on 5668131
    Peter LaGrandeur (Administrator)

    Excellent event followup report, Garry.  Thumbs up! 

    Last modified: 12 Mar 2018 6:37 AM | Peter LaGrandeur (Administrator)
  • 11 Mar 2018 2:01 PM
    Reply # 5965345 on 5668131
    Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Post Action Report

    What can I say but, WOW!

    This year's Cochrane Winter Rally (CWR) was one of the best Rally events that we've done in recent memory. Despite a range of challenges, our radio operators passed the test. We've received several compliments for how effective the communications infrastructure was that day. Nicely done, everyone!

    I'll start by thanking everyone who came out and committed their time to the success of this event. Participants included:

    Pericles Afaganis (VA6PTA); Ray Bourne (VE6LG); Arthur Fostr (VE6ACF); Chris Gibson (VE6CWG); Timothy Graham (VA6TDG); Robin Greig (VE6RBN); Dana Harding (VA6DJH); Alan Kearley (VE6BUZ); Ian Kerr (VE6IKR); Wilson Loree (VA6JWL); Robert MacLachlan (VE6BGM); Stephane Raimbault (VE6NR); Dallas Rathbone (VA6DDR); Jason Schneider (VE6SCD); Ameer Shaikh (VA6QAS); Pat Spencer (VE6PDS); Pat Stirling (VE6TXS); Jim Weisert (VE6GO); Matt Wilfort (VA6AMX); Robert Wilson (VE6CCL); Harry Maylor (VE6HRY); Dave Cason (VE6DED).

    I'd also like to send out extra thanks to the following people:

    Ray Bourne (VE6LG) and Dana Harding (VE6DJH) did a lot of work to verify repeater coverage for the event, as well as set up and support the CARA temporary repeater (VE6RNQ) on the day of the rally.

    Dave Cason (VE6DED) and Tim Graham (VA6TDG) provided transport for the CARA Comms Trailer to and from the event, got it set up in record time, and kept things running smoothly all day for Rally Net Control. Thanks also to Peter LaGrandeur (VA6RPL) for his work to ensure that the Comms Trailer was ready to go.

    Thanks to Harry Maylor (VE6HRY) for his help to clear paths through the deep snow so that we could run the final stages on Hunter Valley Road.

    Our day started early - around 05:00hrs. About this time several of the operators were making their way out to the Waiparous region to get the Comms Trailer and the VE6RNQ temporary repeater set up. While the weather was generally clear, it was cold (about -20C in the morning) and there was a LOT of snow waiting for us. On the Friday and Saturday before the event a snowstorm had dumped an estimated 20cm to 30cm of fresh snow in the mountains.

    We found that the VE6GAB repeater was off the air, likely due to battery depletion. It had been used significantly the previous day by event officials who were setting up the course roads. Given the cold temperatures, and the heavy Friday / Saturday snowfall that was likely obscuring the solar panels, this repeater needed some time to charge up before it was fully available to us. Our operators deftly implemented the established protocol, switching the main channel to VE6RNQ and the secondary channel to VE6AUY.

    Due to the snowfall, much of which had not been cleared prior to the event, the Rallymaster decided to move the Service area from the Fallen Timber parking lot to the Hunter Valley Road. The CARA operators who were responsible for the Comms Trailer were able to implement this change with little trouble, and had Rally Net Control on the air in good time.

    Meanwhile, Blockers and Checkpoint operators started to stream in for the south leg of the event on Waiparous Valley Road. Several last minute assignment changes had to be made to accommodate the extremely heavy snowfall, which had made it impossible to access certain locations along this road. We also found that a children's camp was in progress near this road, so steps had to be taken to enable the campers to leave their event safely. Despite the challenges, the Rally got underway close to on schedule.

    With the first four stages of the event in progress, the Blockers and Checkpoint operators for the centre leg of the Rally began arriving about mid morning. The Harold Creek Road is a difficult path to navigate at times, but the operators who were assigned to these locations managed to get into place safely. The stages planned for this road were started in good time and there were no serious problems reported. As the Harold Creek Road stages were started, the operators posted along Waiparous Road successfully exited that leg, with many staying at the venue to help with later roles.

    By this point in the day the Rallymaster, Keith Morison (VA6PIX), was on the Hunter Valley Road with Harry Maylor (VE6HRY) working to open up enough locations to allow the last two stages of the Rally to take place. A number of the other field radio operators who had 4x4 trucks, and were assigned to locations on that North leg, soon joined the effort. Alas, our most valiant soldiers were unable to overcome all of the firepower that Nature had levelled at us on that road. The Rallymaster deemed that only the South half of the road was safe to race on that day, so only a limited length of the planned route was staffed and used.

    With the partial North leg ready and the centre leg stages finishing up, we made the transition to the Hunter Valley Road with only a few minor problems. All the operators along the Harold Creek Road exited that leg without incident and we were ready for the final races of the day. While the Rallymaster had initially planned for four stages on the shortened Hunter Valley Road, the final two stages were cancelled. The shorter stages were found to be much less challenging for the Rally drivers, and the existing point spread made the extra runs unnecessary to determine the winners for the day.

    When the final stages were completed we got our field operators back in from the Hunter Valley Road and safely on their way. The Comms Trailer was packed up and, lastly, the VE6RNQ repeater was decommissioned. We did our final checkouts and headed for the banquet in Cochrane. Thanks to the Calgary Sports Car Club for the pizza and closing ceremonies.

    Overall, our field radio operators demonstrated superior driving skill and handled their vehicles with the care needed in the deep snow and on the slippery roads. We only had one unintentional off-roading incident and that was addressed with a modicum of effort. Given the very challenging road conditions, this was a job well done.

    We did have a few radio operators who made the effort to show up and yet we were unable to get them into position. In some cases the snowbanks were several feet high and there was simply no means by which we could have moved enough snow to get a vehicle safely into position. I feel badly about this, but there was little we could do about it at the time. Where possible, some operators were reassigned and I'm grateful for the flexibility shown by these individuals. I trust that those who were displaced by the difficult snow conditions were not too disappointed and will still come out to the next Rally.

    I appreciate everyone who cooperated with our positive check-in and positive check-out procedures. This is an important aspect of safety for our field radio operators. Given the demanding road conditions we experienced this year, it was reassuring to be able to confirm the successful exit of all of our radio operations personnel.

    Our temporary repeater, VE6RNQ did a fantastic job of serving the Channel 'A' requirements for the day. It provided solid coverage for the venue from a high point along Hwy 40. We did have a few glitches with the UHF link, so Ray and Dana are following up on this. We'll look into what configuration or operation changes would work more effectively next time.

    The VE6AUY repeater did most of the work for our Channel 'B' needs. I appreciate the efforts of the CARA repeater team in making this machine available to us for the day. Upgrades that are planned for this system will likely make it even more useful to us for future rally events.

    The VE6GAB repeater did charge up later in the day, and the Rallymaster made use of it in the efforts to open up the Hunter Valley Road. Thanks to Dave Gilkes (VE6GAD) for his support of the Rally by agreeing to our use of this machine.

    Our Rally Net Control operators, Roger Heward (VE6RAH) and Ian Willumsen (VE6IAB) set up shop in the CARA Comms trailer and ran a solid operation for the day. The situation was quite dynamic at times and several last minute changes had to be made. Net Control stayed on top of all of this activity and still kept us on schedule and safe. Thanks, guys.

    As for the Rally cars, I am unaware of any serious incidents involving them. I understand there were a couple of minor events but that those were dealt with efficiently by our radio operators working with Rally Net Control and the other race officials. Good work!

    For those who follow the Rally standings, here is a link to the Results Page for the CWR:

    Perhaps the only true disappointment for the day was the number of Rally cars involved. Due to several withdrawals, we had only eight cars in this event. For comparison, last year's CWR Radio Operator Handbook listed nineteen cars. It's difficult to know whether this was due to the deep snow conditions or other issues. Regardless, in the end this was a blessing in disguise. Given the snow, a larger number of cars would have likely led to congestion problems. The associated delays could have caused serious schedule issues.

    Please join me in congratulating Amanda Ann of the Calgary Sports Car Club. This was the first Rally event for which Amanda served as the lead organizer. Under her leadership we managed to pull off this event despite some significant challenges. Thanks, Amanda, and I hope you'll be leading more events in the future.

    Finally, I would like to thank the CARA executive for their support. The annual CWR is one of our club's premiere field operation events. So, knowing that our executive are backing us makes the Rally events a gratifying endeavour.

    I did get some pictures this time around and Bob MacLachlan (thanks, Bob!) sent me some as well. At the end of this posting are links to a sampling of what I have on hand. If anyone has more pictures and would like them posted here, let me know and I'll make them available on this forum.

    In closing, this was a fantastic event. We had some big challenges but our operators came through and made it happen on the day. It was great to see how engaged our club was for this Rally, too. My hope is that we can keep up the excitement and do just as great a job on the next one!



    Garry Spicer, VE6GDS

    Chief Radio Marshall, Cochrane Winter Rally 2018



    Here are some shots of the CARA Comms Trailer in place:


    Here are some great photos of the Rally cars courtesy of Bob MacLachlan:


  • 06 Mar 2018 9:11 PM
    Reply # 5893539 on 5668131

    Thanks to Gary VE6GDS for all your work coordinating radio support for the rally. And the team getting RNQ in place. Seems like the second frequency supporting radio operators was busy - kept a big load off Net Control.

    We  could copy RNQ almost to Water Valley on our way home from Delta as the last 2 stages were running.


    Wilson VA6JWL

  • 04 Mar 2018 4:46 AM
    Reply # 5888109 on 5668131
    Dana Harding (Administrator)

    For anyone who is checking before heading out - 

    Note change in location for service from the campground to along Hunter Valley Road shortly (immediately??) after the turnoff from hwy 40.

  • 03 Mar 2018 12:24 PM
    Reply # 5887642 on 5668131
    Harry Maylor (Administrator)

    I know they run no matter the conditions but that is for a full rally.  With only 8 cars and the likely hood a few will drop due to mechanical issues before the rally begins it seemed possible they may cancel.

  • 03 Mar 2018 10:50 AM
    Reply # 5887535 on 5887523
    Harry Maylor wrote:

    Will we have an update if the event is cancelled?  With this much snow, a trailer to tow and ambulance access it seems likely that for 8 competitors (assuming they all make it) the possibility of cancellation is high.

    I asked about this last night, and Keith said it was unlikely they would cancel.  He said they have run in worse, and will try to run whatever they can within the road conditions and safety requirements.
  • 03 Mar 2018 10:12 AM
    Reply # 5887523 on 5668131
    Harry Maylor (Administrator)

    I would recommend all volunteers have a look around their vehicle and locate where if any are the tow points for it.  Best to know in advance of where to hook up when you get stuck before it happens.  Maybe Gary could pass this on in an email notification as well. 

    Will we have an update if the event is cancelled?  With this much snow, a trailer to tow and ambulance access it seems likely that for 8 competitors (assuming they all make it) the possibility of cancellation is high.

  • 02 Mar 2018 11:55 PM
    Reply # 5887216 on 5668131
    Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Update and Dave's Car Kit

    Thanks to everyone who made it out to tonight's Pre-Op Briefing, despite the weather. It was a good test of everyone's driving skill in the snow!

    Dave Cason asked me to pass on one of his packing lists. For anyone who may not know Dave, he has some of the most comprehensive and well planned travel / outdoor kits in our club.  Have a look at this one and see if there is something here that you should have with you on Sunday.

    Thanks, Dave!



    Garry, VE6GDS


  • 02 Mar 2018 1:19 AM
    Reply # 5884803 on 5668131
    Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Radio Operators Handbook

    Here is an electronic copy of the handbook that we'll be giving out to Radio Operators at the Friday evening pre-op briefing. This has maps, GPS coordinates, the assignment roster, checklists, and key procedures for Blockers and Control Point operators.




    Garry, VE6GDS 


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