The Fray 2007


Every year the Fray is the second best battle in our hobby, after NATS. Years past it has been held in Kevin Bray’s custom pond in his back yard. Since Kevin lost his pond last year the event was moved to Ritter Springs in Missouri. This pond has lots of history in it as the past site of Swampy’s regional battles. Many ships have battled and sunk in the mucky water near the docks. This would be the 10th Fray that Kevin has hosted and it was a good one.

Most captains arrived at the hotel Friday afternoon and evening. Chris Grossaint was at the pond in the morning to see the park ranger cutting the grass and weeds for our battle. Peter, Ben & I pulled into town around 1:30pm thinking we could get a battle in that afternoon, but the park work did not corporate. Randy, Kevin & Brian Bray were at the hotel when we finally made it through the half hour of traffic coming into town. If you ever go to the Fray and go south on Hwy 13 turn at the road to the pond (Farm road 94) and take the first left. This road follows to highway into town and will save you a lot of time. We saw several people with trucks leave the highway and drive through the ditch to get out of the traffic. Our minivan would not make it so we had to wait it out.

We had our traditional captain’s dinner Friday night (All you can eat ribs) and went to work getting ships ready to battle Saturday. There was a large car show in town that gave us something to look at and caused a lot of hotel headaches. Kevin Kaminski came to the hotel with a very old Swampy wood hull Lutzow. He bought it and built it in college many years ago. It was so old that the gun system was still set up to take Freon. He intended to watch the battles and take photos of ships so he could finish his up. Peter, Ben, Tom and I had nothing else to do after dinner so we went to work getting his ship ready. Tom cut up some shower pan armor, Peter cut out the old Freon tank and patched the hole, Ben got the radio box fixed up and put air hose in for the guns, I took apart the guns and tried to get them working again. There were several old rusted bbs that came out of the guns. After cleaning and playing around with the springless pistons the guns fired once again. Things looked good for him to battle Saturday.

Saturday morning we arrived at the pond around 8am, set up tents, tables and started getting ships on the water. We held a captains meeting to select Admirals and fleets. Since no one wanted to step up and volunteer to be an Admiral I, being the CD, selected Randy (He was pointing at another captain) and Tom Palmer. We split up fleets to be Flag: Brain L (Nagato), Chris Grossaint (Washington), Bart Purvis (NC), Bob Hoernemann (Warspite), Ryan Thomson (VDT), Tom Palmer (Nashville) and Ben Radenbaugh (Glorie) vs. No Flag Kevin Hovis (MO), Chris Pearce (Bismarck), Kevin Bray (Big Mammie), Peter Ellison (Sharny), Randy Stiponovich (Tiger), Steve Reynolds (I-Boat), Brian Bray (Portland), Caleb (The Bike). The two Lutzows had broken down with a bad drive gear (Trystan Thompson) and a bad speed controller (Kevin K). Battle was called and the flag ships moved in for a first sortie massacre. Caleb went down quickly with an unseaworthy sink. The Bike had a bad pump switch that I thought I had fixed last weekend. Peter was the next to go down after the Nagato and Washington sandwiched him. Peter had followed the Bismarck into the fur ball and did not make it out. The battle moved in-between the docks in an old fashioned hung n slug death match. The Warspite, Nagato & Washington shooting up the I-Boat and Bismarck. The I-Boat ran out of battery power and sank next to the docks. The Bismarck was having pump priming problems and sank a few minutes latter. With most of the bbs spent the Flag Fleet used up the rest chasing the few remaining No Flag ships. All of the sunk ships, except for The Bike patched what was needed and came back out for the next sortie. The No Flag fleet was in better working order this sortie. The Glorie was all over the pond causing problems for the No Flags. Ben backed in a sterned the I-Boat as it was shooting at the VDT, then he backed into the Sharny for half a magazine of shots, then he made a pass at the Massachusetts and for good measure even thought he was out of bbs made several passed at the Mighty Mo. The Nagato made a good bow to bow pass on the I-Boat driving Steve into the Warspite’s stern guns. Trent commented after the battle that the starboard side looked like someone took a chainsaw to it. The I-Boat moved off to play with the VDT and they traded sidemounts. The Washington and Nagato spent the last half of the sortie chasing the Tiger and Mass. around. The Warspite hung around the VDT making sure no one came to finish her off. Latter she joined in with the Nagato to chase the Mass., but Kevin turned and left them trying not to run into each other. The Portland went out of control and sank close to the far shore. It was a long walk through the mucky water for Kevin to get the ship. The fleet scores were Flag 11,225, No Flag 3.435. Ship scores were: No Flag Mo 32-6-6, Bismarck 52-12-29 sink, Mass 34-1-1, Sharny 40-5-1 sink, Tiger 12-2-9, I-Boat 62-9-21 sink, Portland 18-2-5 sink, The Bike 0-0-0 sink. Flag Nagato 13-1-10, Washington 25-3-1, NC 43-6-8, Warspite 19-1-5, VDT 27-6-10, Nashville 4-0-0 Glorie 0-0-0.

Kevin Hovis brought his electronic speed trap and we spent time going through it to test it and our ships. I took the Warspite through it in reverse several times at warp speed and at normal speed. The clouds started to look black and the rain started to fall. It rained just long enough for everyone to patch before the next battle. Then the sun peaked out from behind the clouds for beautiful battling weather.

The afternoon battle saw the Bike coming back to the No Flags after the pump switch was changed. Maggie Grossaint was added to the No Flags with the Fiji. Trystan Thomson took over the VDT. Kevin H. changed to the Flag fleet. Chris G.’s did not battle due to a broken rudder. As the battle started the Tiger was able to back in and stern gun the Nagato. The Warspite returned the favor with a stern gun pass on the Bismarck. Bart got his NC stuck in a bad place, between the stern guns of the Mass and Tiger. Then into a worse place between the haymakers of Bismarck and I-Boat. Bart did not last much longer, getting a few sterns into the Mass before sinking. While Hovis was pulling out his ship I noticed that I was missing a rudder, no wonder I was not turning that well. I had got hung up in the speed trap a few times and bent up one prop and must have broken off the rudder too. I latter found the rudder floating by the speed trap. I called five out of control and the wolves moved in. The Nagato hung by helping protect me and I hid under the dock. The Mass pulled in with his sidemount on my haymaker side and we traded shots. The Bismarck also backed in with stern guns and worked over my starboard side. The I-Boat made a pass and then Mass came back. Kevin & I traded bow sidemounts this time as we backed up to the docks. Kevin left and the Bismarck got behind me and ate stern guns. More sidemount passes from the Bismarck, Mass and I-Boat left me wondering where all my fleet mates went. Then suddenly it stopped, everyone left and I got a chance to sit by the dock pumping out. The Bismarck went to go play with the Nagato and then had pump priming problems again and sank. The Mass spent the last of his bbs on the VDT then The Bike sank again, the new pump switch needes to be on to pump out the water. I borrowed a rudder from Randy for the 2nd sortie and was back in business. The I-Boat and Mass came after me to start the sortie. I got my haymaker into the I-Boat and Kevin tripled me. I did not have my battery placed in the ship correctly and was listing really bad the whole sortie. Peter sank next to shore from a few large holes at the waterline. The MO and Nagato got the Fiji in a cruiser sandwich but she was able to get away, picking on little girls is not very nice. Trystan took the VDT to tangle with the Mass and got a few good shots in. Kevin Bray was try to help Brian out and drove himself into the weeds next to shore. Ben and MO came in with stern guns and I tried to bring a sidemount in but got caught in the weeds too. The rest of the sortie turned into a chase with the fast ships. The slow ships were out of bbs or too hurt to join in. Scores were Flag 8620 No Flag 6780. Ships scores were No Flag, Bismarck 49-9-14 sink, Mass 49-3-5, Sharny 19-1-4 sink, Tiger 15-10-13, I-Boat 42-2-23, Portland 1-0-0, Fiji 17-5-4, The Bike 0-0-0 sink. Flag Mo 32-3-10, Nagato 26-0-13, NC 47-7-16 sink, Warspite 34-1-19, VDT 20-3-8, Nashville 14-2-3 Glorie 0-0-0.

There was still daylight so we rounded up ships for a cruiser battle. It was the USA: The Bike (Bob H), Portland (Kevin B.) Nashville (Tom) vs the French & Germans: Sharny (Peter w/ no sidemount), Glorie (Ben), Surrender Monkey III (Randy). While the USA should have just picked on the Sharny, scored tons of points and ran away we played with only bad strategy. We lost Kevin to a blown hose just as battle started and Tom decided to back up right behind both Frogs. Ben and Randy used most of their bbs while Tom froze in place trying to pick forward or reverse. The rest of the sortie was standard cruiser battle stuff. The second sortie started with Kevin again losing CO2. This time Tom stayed away from the Frogs, for awhile. He got behind them again later in the battle and they worked over his other side. We did not officially count the ships but we do know that Tom took a ton of damage. I also gave Ben his first three holes of the day.

Peter & I had some major boat repair to do so we ordered pizza. It was getting really dark out and the car guys heard hail might be coming. We watched most of them put towels and tarps over their cars to try and protect them. We had just got the stuff in our room when it started to pour. Then the power went out, but just for a few seconds. I rebuilt my rudder and then Peter & I worked on his guns. They were not hitting very hard and were not consistent. He had a lot of leaks in the guns that we fixed. When they were all done his triples were hitting so hard we wondered if the people next door could hear them. The first guy to chase Peter would be in for a little surprise tomorrow.

Sunday had an 80% chance of rain in the forecast. But we managed to make it through both battles without getting wet. The fleets changed a little from Saturday. Hovis left to work on his pond; Bart said his goodbyes and drove home. Kevin K. had his Lutzow on the water with a speed controller he borrowed from Trent. But before battle it stopped working, not sure why. It was the same speed controller that Trent had in his Roma. We tried to find the cursed ground wire in Kevin’s boat, this had fixed Treants last year. Kevin K. took over The Bike and joined the No Flags. Trystan had his Graff Spee fixed and ready to join the Flags.

Peter got his chance to use stern guns right away as Washington and Nagato came after him at the start of battle. He turned inside of Washington and let the bbs fly. The guns cracked and Chris backed off to a safer side chase. But the Nagato was able to get her sidemonts on the Sharny until Peter turned and ran right into the Bismarck. The Tiger, I-Boat & Mass tangled with Warspite & Nagato in-between the docks. Nagato went on five leaving Warspite and Bismarck the only ships with guns on the water. Warspite was already pumping pretty hard when running. I should have called five at the same time as Brian L. did. But I had a few bbs left and wanted to use them. I got a few into the Bismarck and called five. I drove in circles under the docks and had a few laughs as the Bismarck hit some post and could not get his guns on me. Chris only had bbs left in his haymaker. This gun is not too hard to run away from, but Chris was relentless knowing that he was killing my batteries for the next sortie. With 30 seconds left on my five I hit a tire on the dock then got stuck under a cross brace. Bismarck was right on top of me and put the last of her haymaker bbs in me. It was over pretty fast as I sank next to the dock. I patched up 31 bellows on the port side and came back for the 2nd sortie. In the 2nd sortie I knew I should use my bbs and get off the water quickly, but I did not. I took on the Tiger, I-boat & Mass by myself. I was able to get a few haymaker shots into the I-Boat and got the bow sidemount on target too. Steve sank after the Washington finished her off with some prop wash. I knew my batteries were getting low; my solenoids would no longer fire. I called five and the Mass came in to pepper me with the last of his sterns and sidemounts. I sank again in the middle of the docks. The Bismarck was chasing the crippled Nagato and ran Brian into the dock. Brian hit a cross brace hard, listed his ship over to port and sank under the dock. The Washington started chasing the Tiger and Mass. When he called five the Tiger and Bismarck started chasing him. They soon found something better to play with and started chasing the Graff Spee. At some point in the battle Maggie’s Fiji went down at the far end of the pond. It was a smashing victory for the No Flag fleet. Scores were Flag 13395 No Flag 6230. Ships scores were No Flag, Bismarck 50-4-13 sink, Mass 33-3-7, Sharny 28-0-7, Tiger 24-6-14, I-Boat 22-9-31 sink, Portland 1-0-0. Flag Nagato 75-15-34 sink, Washington 43-2-19, Warspite 69-16-58 sink x2, Graff Spee 40-5-11, Nashville 37-0-1 Glorie 1-1-1, Fiji 6-0-0 sink, The Bike 0-0-0.

After the battle Susan Bray was kind enough to do our lunch run again. She also was a big help with crowd control as people walked on the paths by the pond. She has put up with us staying at her house during the past Fray’s, watched some our kids while we battled and is still helping us out now that we’ve moved. If only she could patch and fill CO2 bottles.

For the afternoon battle Caleb took The Bike back for the No Flag fleet, Kevin K started the drive back home. Tom had dropped his transmitter in the water and was out for this battle. Battle started with the same basic set up. Warspite & Nagato stern to stern with Tiger, I-Boat & Mass. This set up changed when Caleb went out of control. I drove over to make sure there were some holes in him so this sink would not be an unseaworthy one. I tossed a few haymaker bbs and some sterns at him and he sank. Brian Bray was the next to go out of control. I got a few bow sidemounts into him and Ben got a few stern guns on his port side. The Nagato was getting his starboard sidemount on the Sharny. Peter turned and got rammed by the Fiji who got rammed by the Nagato. The hit on the Sharny was not very hard but made a large hole in her side, she did not make it very far before she sank. The battle moved to the right as the two fleet’s battleships slugged it out. The Nagato got the best of the I-Boat then got stern gunned by the Tiger. The Washington chased down the I-Boat and Steve called for help from Kevin. This brought everyone over to the left side of the pond and the slug fest continued. All heads turned to look at the magazine explosion happening in the I-Boat, “There is something wrong with our bloody ships today”. Steve had blown an air line and the Warspite came in for the kill. But the Mass. came to the rescue and moved me away before I could get any shots at Steve. The Nagato and Washington were not driven off and swarmed in to finish the job. Once again the I-Boat sank next to shore. The battle quickly wound down and Chris G was trying to coach Maggie in for some stern shots. He lost track of his ship and backed himself under, opps. Scores were Flag 13395 No Flag 6230. Ships scores were No Flag, Bismarck 38-4-4, Mass 86-3-12, Sharny 34-3-11, Tiger 29-5-8, I-Boat 40-9-28 sink, Portland 7-0-2 sink The Bike 20-1-1 sink. Flag Nagato 29-2-5, Washington 6-5-10, Warspite 39-7-21, Graff Spee 5-0-1, Glorie 6-0-1, Fiji 13-0-4.

Sunday night we all went out to BW3s for dinner. Then we walked to the ice cream place down the street. The greasy food and beer got the better of some captains the next day.

Monday saw us lose Steve R to a drive home. Chris P took over the bike as he needed a smaller ship. The fleets were close to the same sides as before. Just as we were getting set up for the battle the Fiji did a reverse dive and sank. Tom pulled her out of the water and she joined the battle. Peter was the center of attention and was quickly put down under a smothering fire of sidemounts from the three Flag battleships. The loss of the I-Boat & Bismarck put the No Flag fleet at a battleship deficit. The Flag ships ran them around the pond trading sidemounts as they could. Brian Bray’s Portland sank at the far shore just at the end of battle. For the second sortie, just we were getting ships on the water we decided to trade the Warspite for the Glorie. This paired the Warspite and Mass together to do dome major slugging. We found a friend to play with in the Nagato and worked her over from dock to dock. After a long listing struggle she finally slipped beneath the waves. After I got the Nagato out of the water I took the Warspite over to shoot The Bike. Chris, Brian and Maggie were on the other dock and I did not think Chris was watching his ship. He looked to be helping Maggie get some shots in on the other cruisers. After putting a few bbs into The Bike I called five and started to chase Maggie’s Fiji around. I thought I’d be a nice guy and let her get some shots at me, a little practice for her. She was doing a great job staying away from me and turning at just the right time to fire her stern guns. From the other dock I told her she was getting some great shots in. Then I noticed that my pump was picking up and pulled away from the practice session. The Washington came over and Chris asked if I was on five or not. I told him I was and he chased me around the dock. He was out of port side guns so I tried to stay over there. We were bumping around and the waves and prop wash were getting in the holes Maggie opened in my bow. A little too much pushing did me in and I sank. Sunk by a father and daughter team goofing around, opps. But I felt good that Maggie had done some damage she could talk about on the way home. A little coaching from Chris P goes a long way I guess. She almost fought as if Chris were driving the ship for her. No official scores were counted, but I did count up 42 bellows on the Nagato. The awards for the weekend were handed out and the goodbyes were said ending another great Fray event. Best of Class went to: Class 1-3 Ben R., Class 4 Randy S., Class 5, Peter E., Class 6 Brian L., Best of Scale Randy S., Most Feared Bob H. The total fleet scores for the proud Flag & No Flag nations were Flag 34,540 No Flag 28,240. Steve Reynolds took the most damage 9,935, just beating me by 550 points. A BIG thanks to Kevin for hosting a great event, to the captains that made the drive to play together and also to Susan Bray for being a great hostest.