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Southend Model Power Boat Club Festival of Boating Weekend

A report by: Paul Oliver

For the past couple of years the Southend Model Power Boat Club (SMPBC) has put on a weekend of model boating, at it's club waters in Southchurch Park. This meeting is primarily to promote the club and the hobby of model boating to the general public. This event is staged around the first weekend in August, and is ideally timed for local people and tourists in the prime of the summer holiday season. It also tends to provide a large turn out of the club members and guests of the club.

The event is organised to allow most forms of model boating (primarily those undertaken by the club members) to be demonstrated over the course of the two days. Classes of boating include, scale, yachts (though limited by the club waters), fast electric power boats, submarines, and novelty models. The general public are able to view the models from quite a close distance, and are able to ask questions of the boat owners.

A large number of the membership have scale models of varying detail and complexity of ships of various types that include tugs, steamers, warships, cabin cruisers, and fireboats. Many tend to be powered by electric motors and are radio controlled. Other forms of propulsion can be by steam or internal combustion engine, though the club does not promote the latter. I have provided pictures of some of the models from 2000's event to give an indication of the variety of models.

There are also a number of members into fast electric model power boats, and the club has been particularly active in promoting two of the racing classes. The most popular club class is the Club 500. This is a one make model class of racing which is tightly regulated to ensure close level of competition. The club's pioneered rules have become the standard for the class.

The club has also been promoting the ECO 400 class of racing, where small models, powered by Graupner Speed 400 motors provide the public with much hilarity, due to some degree of unpredictability in these models handling characteristics.

Other more conventional classes promoted are Formula 3, Formula 2, and surface drive classes. These classes are more costly as there is more individual scope in developing models, and model performance.

During the weekend a number of demonstration races are held.

Models have been constructed either from kits, plans, or entirely scratch built, where the member has drawn up their own plans.

The SMPBC is a very active club actively promoting the hobby and themselves. The fruits of this are an expanding membership (which always grows as a result of these weekends), and good publicity for the club and the hobby. This is very good as it would appear that a number of clubs are in decline, due to a number of factors that include, loss of sailing waters, and changes in social behaviour. For details of the club, their website can be found at