# ROW 2021

Welcome to a brief description of the recently held Riverhead Orienteering Weekend (ROW) 2021 – orienteering on a brand-new map, originally planned for March, but postponed till May. Driven by Cameron de L'Isle, it was advertised as ‘orienteering on some of the trickiest maps in New Zealand’ and this wasn’t hyperbole. Both events were part of the 2021 Auckland Orienteering Series, and the weekend also played host to a round of the National O League 2021 for elite competitors: Saturday the Middle (with controller Dave Middleton), Sunday the Long (with controller Paul Ireland), with setter Cameron de L'Isle on both days.

Both events were located in Riverhead Forest, accessed from Robinson Road, Coatesville. Robinson Road is a popular location for recreational activities including horse riding, walking and mountain biking. The terrain was typical Riverhead gully spur with some highly detailed but also some very vague areas, and very few tracks. Topography ranged from gentle to very steep slopes, although most areas had moderately sloping. Runnability ranged from fast to very slow, with generally poor visibility. Riverhead is known for its understory vegetation and this map was no different. The mapping style was detailed, with an emphasis on representing every change of runnability in the forest, resulting in a map whereby vegetation changes could reliably be used for navigation.

Fun Facts:

  • The map area covers nearly four kilometres2 with many parts remaining unused for future events.
  • This area was teeming with wildlife, with 10+ moreporks, three hedgehogs, two barn owls and countless possums and skinks spotted during mapping. If you were lucky, you might spot a morepork or two in the darker parts of the forest when not focussed on the map.
  • This was the first known large-scale map made using omap.nz as a base map, bringing down the mapping costs significantly. Omap.nz is a giant orienteering map of New Zealand which is currently being generated region by region.

Huge thanks to the hard-working team of Cameron de L’Isle, Dave Middleton, Paul Ireland supported by their helpers over the whole weekend who delivered a challenging and classy two-day feast of orienteering in terrain in complete contrast to Woodhill. The terrain was unforgiving for those who did not pay attention to the subtle contours or who tried to run too quickly rather than focusing on precise navigation, but the mapping was very accurate and reliable. We hope those on the easier courses on Sunday enjoyed the specially created foot track.

Paul Ireland captures the mood succintly: "Thanks to all competitors for your enthusiasm, grit and appreciation. Huge congrats to the winners who excelled both physically and technically in some beautiful but tough forested terrain, well done. Lots of exhausted and smiley faces all around, with a bit of mud and sweat thrown in."

NWOC life member Matt Ogden won both M21E races convincingly. He wrote about his experiences: "The NWOC team have delivered another set of fantastic events. The quality of the mapping and course setting was truly world class."

Another compliment received via FB: Big thanks to the NWOC team for last weekend’s events – we need more variety like this to improve our skills.

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