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Ray Hill RIP

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 13 June 2013, 11:41 AM  
One of orienteering's great characters Ray Hill died last Saturday, aged 81. He had been a WOC and WaiOC member, planned and attended a huge number of events, helped schools with orienteering (he had been a teacher) and latterly lived in Napier. But it was his wicked sense of humour that stands out for me. I think I can find some examples.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 13 June 2013, 11:42 AM  
The WOA Newsletter of December 1995, Letter to the Editor

At the Frank Smith trophy competition at Otari on Nov 12, there was a "manned" control. Now whilst it is usually acceptable these days also to have woman officials, I find it utterly unacceptable that it should be manned by a stuffed rat. Traditionally, where controls are not manned by humans (homo semisapiens), we teddy bears (ursus edwardii profundus) have got the job. It's no picnic, but we do it well. No going off for a quick fag. No sipping sherry on the side. Just a quiet job quietly done. But RATS! This opens up the whole question of the honesty of the course, both from a competitor and a setter perspective.

Their reputation precedes them in such phrases as "faster than a rat up a drainpipe", "you dirty rat", "smell a rat' and to "rat on on somebody. Since the competition has been run, I do not wish to dwell on bribery allegations. Suffice it to say that the insolent grin on that rat showed he was very happy with the rewards of the day, whereas no-one has ever seen a runner hurrying to a "teddied" control carrying a jar of honey.

More serious is the probability that rodentophillic considerations influenced the choice of control location. It is noteworthy that the "ratted" control was in a deep gully, with obnoxious bacteria-ridden watery slime sniggering its way down the channel. Obviously the nearest approximation a rat could get to a sewer.There is a clear case to be made that this "official" influenced the setter. In comparison, there is no case on record of a control being placed close to a hive, showing that we honey loving bears are careful not to bias a course.

If this ridiculous modern politically-correct multi-speciist policy continues, not only will courses be set through actual sewers, but officials such as crocodiles will require runners to wade into the centre of a marsh, there to have a control card and most of the arm holding it clipped.

Sir, we bears are being denied our traditional job. I request that bears be given first refusal on all "manned" stations.

Edward Bruin,
Immediate past president of the Honey Samplers Quality Control Association.
National chairbear of BARE (Bears Against Rodent Encroachment)

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 13 June 2013, 11:59 AM  
Looking at the above, I think I may have to add an explanation for those under pension age. Before electronic punching, if it was an advantage to get controls out of order the organisers were supposed to have a person at selected controls, who would inspect each clipcard. This was a bit awkward, so the practice began of installing a shop dummy, scarecrow etc at the controls indicated as "manned". Initially quite a joke, but after a while it got so common that a little man in the control descriptions was really just an empty threat. But one that Ray made the most of:-))

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 13 June 2013, 1:31 PM  
I remember after a race on a forest map with a particularly bad case of green-stripe-disease, a letter in the WOA newsletter from a law firm on behalf of their client, one Raymond Hill advising course setters to desist from placing controls in such areas. I think it was authentic but it was the only time I ever heard of the firm in question: Supple, Jack and Bush; Lawyers.

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 13 June 2013, 1:45 PM  
Also I well remember his story of a weekend orienteering trip away with a pair of brothers well known for the kind of temperement more associated with road cycling than orienteering - while he pulled no punches, I think even they would have enjoyed the way he characterised them - the quote that has stuck in my mind: "On hearing that Peter Snell was staying at the same motel, K****n immediately went over to give him some useful tips on orienteering, and no doubt on how to run 1500m as well"

I don't know how well Ray was known outside of the Wellington area but he was certainly an important part of the local scene in my early days, and I've been missing seeing him around for some time now. While it was probably people with names like Wood and Ingham that had the most influence when I was getting into the sport, without Ray it might be have been a lot easier to forget that at the end of the day it's all about having fun.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 14 June 2013, 2:02 AM  
This might have been penned by Ray - not sure.

A Pome

(Written after a particularly rugged day at Belmont Bunkers, 10 April 1988.

Wahine Day, and bitter chill it was.
The Planner, despite her balaclava, was a-cold.
The Novice limped trembling through the frozen stockyards
And silent were the Starters, young and old.

Numb were the Orienteers fingers, while he clipped
His clipcard, and while his frosted breath,
Like woolly fragments from a sheepskin old,
Seemed taking flight for Gisborne, without a pause,
Past the trig point, while his map he readeth.

His map he readeth, this Orienteer  shocked!
He takes his compass and riseth from his knees
And back returneth, weary; footsore; knocked;
Along the electric fence by slow degrees.

(with apologies to John Keats, Eve of St Agnes)

Show Profile  Lizzie Posted: 14 June 2013, 6:23 AM  
I was too young to remember any of Ray's particular stories, but I do remember Mum and Dad often repeating his stories and jokes at the dinner table!
Not to mention the peanut slabs he seemed to bring to every event for Chris and I. As you say, a great character!




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