At 10AM the first round was started and the first competitors went down to the south slope at Red Hill which is not ideal as the wind still held to the South much to the CD's distress. There was however enough lift for the guys to complete the first round sequences. Although not ideal the first round was completed and as if on order, and much to everybody’s delight, the wind swung into the South East and the Cape Doctor began to work its magic. A moderate 30 km/h breeze blew straight up the slope for the next two and a half hours, much to everybody's glee and the CD's evident relief, manifested by something resembling a jig performed in the car park overlooking the slope.
The pre-determined format was to get two pilots up at a time and have them coming through consecutively, one manoeuvre at a time. For those who have not done this type of contest tandem flying before, it can be a wee bit unnerving, as the need to spy on your competitors successful manoeuvre can be a distracting to say the least. It takes real focus to keep your eyes and mind on your own plane, while awaiting your turn for the next manoeuvre. By the time all contestants had completed round 1, there were many surprises with some of the less experienced pilots posting points well ahead of a good few of the experienced slope guys who were expected to do a darn sight better. The time well spent in weekend practice sessions was evidently paying off for some.
It was decided that we should have a shorter lunch and try to fly another two rounds while the wind was still favourable. As Anton Benning and Mike Basson were the first pilots in the second round, they launched and climbed for height, but the wind quickly turned Southerly and conditions became shocking in a matter of minutes. Disgruntled competitors and judges alike decided to wait out a possible wind shift later in the day. During this grounding period competitors got much useful feedback and tuition from the judges who gave advice with regard to the calling of a manoeuvre and the importance of the “caller” in the whole scheme of competitive flying. We had tended to neglect the important role of a “caller” in our practice sessions so it came as quite a surprise to find out just how important a good “team” of pilot and caller can be on the slope. Further advise from the judges included leaving a gap between the ‘commencing’ and ‘now’ calls when performing a manoeuvre as any deviation or wing wobble after ‘now’ was called would cause you to loose points even though the pilot had not even started the manoeuvre. All this added vital information to pilots in the future rounds, which most pilots viewed as being flown far better than the first round. At 4PM we finally conceded to the weather which had not budged an inch from the Southerly direction, and called things off until the next day. Everybody moved down to ‘Dixie’s, a picturesque local watering hole where we enjoyed ourselves with a few cool ales and where the judges were feted with meals and drinks in an unashamed attempt to soften them up for the next day’s scoring. Sadly this did not work! This was our official event dinner and was taken to with much mirth, resulting in some pilots being a bit worse for wear the next morning, while still sporting huge grins and nursing a well earned headache.
Sunday’s wind direction was forecast as South Westerly which would mean that we would have to hold the event at Soetwater in Kommetjie. The Contest Director was seen driving like a possessed madman around the peninsula at 6AM in the morning, in an attempt to see if the wind was I fact from the South West, when a call came through from Theunis van Niekerk asking, “ Where you bru, it's South East!”. The entire fleet of contestants arrived for their breakfast of champions, bacon and eggs breakfast rolls, which the fantastic caterers had supplied on the slope. All were only too happy to see that the wind was firmly out of the South East and the lift conditions were excellent. Once again the flying kicked off at 10AM with more than perfect conditions that were never supposed to exist.
The pilots got stuck in doing their very best and it seemed, in certain cases, put themselves under more pressure as they now had scores to defend from day 1. The callers on day 2 did a much better job and things were a lot more accurate, clean and smooth, although the judges seemed to have stepped up the scoring and were a little more brutal in their allotment of scores. The wind continued to deliver the goods and with some good air traffic control by Martin Keightly on the slope front and his team of Greg Lerm and Nic Steffen in the control area, things ran smoothly and we were ahead of time allocated for the round.
With the contest completed it took a little while for the scorers to tally the final scores, while all pilots and judges had a good old tongue waggle. It was during this period that the wind shifted back to Southerly and blew out all the flying for the rest of the day. Somehow we were granted us just enough wind from the right direction for 2 days in a row to get the whole event completed as originally envisaged and the CD thankfully saved a few more grey hairs in the process.
Kevin Farr Chairman of T.O.S.S. then took the floor and thanks to wonderful
support from the Hobby shops here in Cape Town, proceeded to hand out prizes to each and every competitor. The overall laurels went to Marc Wolfe who placed first, and received an impressive silver floating trophy, which he has to return to defend next year, as well as a first placed trophy which he gets to keep as winner of the inaugural Two Oceans Slope Soarers Aerobatics Event. He was followed in a very strong second place by Damien Hinrichsen and in third place by Steve Meusel, who both received trophies to take home and hang on the mantelpiece.
A very generous thank you to all our sponsors:
- Clowns Hobbies
- Hobby Warehouse
- Micton Hobbies
- Grant Lyle and Fragram Tools
- Russell Conradt from Durbs by the sea
- Dave Greer from Durbs by the sea
- Iris van der Vlist
- Grant and Belinda Crosby Emery
- Jeff and Rose Steffen
- Theunis van Niekerk
- Steve Meusel
and basically the entire TOSS crew who made this all possible and who made sure that each and every pilot and received a prize and the judges received bottles of champagne to soften them up for next years event. Now that's what I call forward planning.
So to all the slope soarers out there, next year... be there!
For more information about Slope Soaring in the Western Cape, please refer to the TOSS website.