As with any hobby, there is always a competitive side to it and this goes the same with Gold Panning, but with this hobby, there is more of a uniqueness to it, as you’re looking for Gold!
Competition Gold Panning have their roots in Finland. It was there that the very first modern panning competitions were held in 1974.
In the early days, competitions were only held in Finland, but it didn’t take long before other countries started to organise their own national events.
The unusual sport attracted great international media interest, and in 1977, the first World Championships took place in Tankavaara, Finland, where 10 nations took part in the event.
With the sport and hobby going from strength to strength, representatives from the countries participating in the World Championships got together in 1981 and formed the association we know today as the, World GoldPanning Association (WGA).
The first British Gold Panning Championships was held in Wales, 1988. The meeting place was a car park at Tynn-Y-Gross, just outside of Dolgellau and the competition was held on a Sunday.
Even though this was the first competition to be held in the UK, some of our panners had been to the World Championships that had started in 1977.
The simple way to explain competition panning is, all your trying to do, is pan for a set amount of Gold in the quickest time without losing any flakes.
You will receive a bucket of gravel that has been seeded with between 5 and 12 small flakes of gold. In the finals it’s between 7 and 12. Everyone will have the same number of flakes to find, but you do not get told how many flakes there are until the results come out at the end of each round. Your time is recorded electronically and a 3 minute time penalty is added for each piece lost.
Different categories are available for you to enter at competitions that you can enter.
The official categories are, Proficient Men & Women, Veterans, Juniors, Traditional Pan, Tri Pan and 2, 3 and 5 person teams. (National team at world and euro events).
Each heat will have a final round to determine the champion. Medals and awards are given out for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.
The different pans that you can use are, Speed Pan, Klondike, Classic and Bata. Don’t worry if you have never used a Speed or Bata pan, as people will show you how to use one and learning the technique is very simple.
The Gold is all classified to about 1mm in size and is easy to spot in the pan.
After you have got rid of all the gravels, you will be left with just the Gold. The trick is to get the Gold out of the pan and into the vial using the tip of your finger. Sounds easy?? The winners and losers are made at this point.
I know what you’re thinking, I’m new to the hobby and never panned or you’ve never done competition panning before, then that’s just fine. There is a practice troughs always available and plenty of people who will teach you the various techniques needed in order to succeed in competition panning. All it takes is a few goes and then enter yourself into the heats and see how you do.
A common quote often herd when people are talking about competition panning at the river is, “if I don’t do well, then people will think I’m a rubbish Panner” NO WAY!!!! Competition panning has no resemblance on how you pan in the river. It’s a competition and there will be winners and losers like in every competition. It does not mean your rubbish at panning because if you lose a piece of Gold, It just means you might have to change your technique slightly so you don’t lose gold. You will be amazed at some techniques you will learn, that you can take to the river and be more efficient at catching your Gold while panning.
So if you’re interested then that’s a start, the next bit is to turn up and have a go. What have you got to lose???? Absolutely nothing. If anything, you have gained, as you have experienced the other side of the hobby and at lest you can say you’ve tried it and who knows, you may walk away with a medal.
On the Saturday we hold the Scottish champs and on the Sunday we hold the British champs. Each day has the same competitions.
Competitions happen all over the world and each year, a country will host the World Gold Panning Championships, which brings panners from around the world to compete for the title of World Champion.
In August 2019, our very own President, James Linnett, became the first person from the UK to be crowned World Champion at Tankavaara, Finland.
This was a Double celebration, as James Linnett won Gold in the 5 person team. The 4 other team members were from the Netherlands. Sam, Esther, Ruurd and Goenneke.