2009 National Postals

The GOOD NEWS(!) is that John Lightfoot has kindly agreed to co-ordinate the National Postals for 2009. I am sincerely grateful to him for this.

Based on feedback from individuals throughout 2008, the format for the 2009 Postals remains essentially the same as 2008, except that you will now be allowed 2 attempts again as per the 2007 rules to encourage more people to enter who otherwise might have felt that their one attempt was not sufficient.

The 2008 rules can be found on the SSC site http://www.southernsoaringclub.org.za/MGA-rules-08-Postals.PDF with the following changes for 2009 to be updated:

  • You may fly on any two days of the designated Postals month
  • You are permitted to enter the best of the two scores (where each score is comprised of the results from one of the day's 5 consecutive flights)

Should you have any suggestions, queries, or comments, please do not hesitate to forward it to me.

Fly safely

2008 HTL #8 - Heidelberg report

2008 HTL

“Summer time and the living is easy…”

We are so fortunate to be blessed with a beautiful country & the most awesome thermal weather – little wonder that RC “Soaring” (as per John Lightfoot, SouthEaster October 2008) has such a passionate following, but it is strange that many more people are not attracted to it?

Whilst 2008 has seen a decline in pilot numbers, the 8th and final HTL event for 2008 was the exception, with a record 34 entries making up 9 teams of around 4 pilots each. The weather was generally stunning, we had a great flying field, a very friendly crowd, and with the challenge of the dreaded Sawtooth scoring, the basis for the final 2008 HTL event on Sunday 7 December was set to be special. From my perspective it was one of, if not, the most enjoyable competitions we flew this year & the thanks to everyone who made this possible is heartfelt.

View of the field from the top of the hill

This is only the second year that the final competition was hosted on Ché’s farm, just outside of Heidelberg. The farm is a haven for orphan children (and animals) and the entire orphanage came to watch us fly during the day. A collective agreement was made amongst the pilots to support this orphanage in future. A special account has been established for donations and will be presented to the orphanage before Christmas. I believe that we all would like to thank Ché and the children for the use of the field for our competition.

The day started early for most – Heidelberg is over an hours travel from my house, and we even had people travelling in from as far away as Durban over & above the usual participants attracted from all over Gauteng. It is perhaps the “year-end” nature that makes this so attractive, or that a 2M can score as much on handicap as an open class model, or simply the need for RC glider pilots to soar that attracted the larger than normal numbers? Special mention must be made of Alan Smith who convinced 5 novice pilots to attend. I was particularly pleased to see the pilots from KZN travel all the way to attend our humble league.Friends from afar: Dennis Bird & Allan Sneedon from KZN

The field is a large pasture, with grass just under knee height that was super soft from the good rains we have experienced over the past few months. We started the day with light prevailing winds (westerly), rolling over from the nearby hills, but during round 3, this swung 180 degrees requiring us to change the winch direction before lunch. The safety corridor was establish down the flight line with gazebos providing respite from the African sun – which raised temperatures in the shade up to 37 degrees Celsius, with a ridiculous humidity factor creating stifling heat, but awesome thermal conditions. The trees that lined the one edge of the field were far enough away as to not cause concern. Martie’s diner created a special atmosphere too, with the now traditional year-end barbeque and salads. Given the heat of the day, I am convinced she had record sales of cool drinks & water too! She kept us fed & watered from breakfast all the way through to sundowners, & I am delighted to announce that she will be back on the circuit next year.

The flight line & safety corridor being set up
It was also truly wonderful to see all the families being brought along as spectators (and as helpers), perhaps glimpsing the reasons that their family members disappear for a few hours each weekend? The call to soar is obviously strong & I am sure we will be supported more if our families see just how much we enjoy ourselves with this elegant sport.

Big launches were the order of the day, but as thermals passed & the wing swung, the downwind side required good technique & minimized energy waste to optimize flight times. The last 2 slots of round 3 & probably the last round of the day were particularly tricky, with overcast conditions masking any obvious thermal indicators, and making use of thermal small bubbles to maintain height was the only “get-out-of-jail” approach amongst sink that otherwise saw most models tumbling downwards. This was only a minor inconvenience on what was otherwise a perfect day, with thermals generally in abundance, sucking our models up to ridiculous eye stretching heights before we zoomed downwards to target the landing spots. I paid special attention to the general landings of the pilots, as there has been considerable discussion amongst pilots in SA about the value /over rating of the FAI landing. I hate relating RC to full-size metaphors & landing, so all I will say is that trying to smack your model into the ground at high speed tends to be self regulating (even using the finest composite materials available) and that the best pilots manage the models energy to the last moment & touchdown softly. Scores of 10 cm’s or less distance from the spots were plentiful from the likes of Paul Carnall, Chris Adrian & Conrad Klintworth, with most of the top pilots recording sub 1 metre landings due to their skill in this aspect. As a complete hack, I know when a landing is going to be good – you can feel as you enter the landing approach, and especially those last few seconds when only drastic gusts can put you off. Of course, this from someone who still believes the landing in the same field as I launched from is an achievement!

Craig Goodrum landing his F3B Ceres - Round 5

The open class flew 10 minutes duration task in the almost standard HTL 12 minute working time window, whilst 2M’s flew 6 minutes (sadly no RES100 models entered). This provided even the “under staffed” teams the opportunity to fly & collect winch lines, etc. I must be honest that the 4 person team was far more relaxing than the 3 person approach we have adopted for most of the year to minimize time. I am know asking myself the question as to why it is necessary to rush the day – we all enjoy flying & putting pressure on individuals is far more damaging in the longer term. However, if we want to attract more people to flying then the net must be cast further & travel times become the issue.

The Sawtooth itself is also a fascinating beast, and requires very careful tactical decisions during the event. It was designed by John Nevin many years back, and has traditionally been used at the Vaal Triathlon event to close off the HTL season. However, the gradual decline in RC Glider pilots at the Vaal club necessitated the relocation of the event, but following the repeated success of this event, Heidelberg will clearly become a calendar fixture for the next season having firmly established itself as one of the top attractions to the RC Soaring circuit.

The Sawtooth ProfileThe event is also rather unique in that it is only based on team scores – the top 3 scores per team are counted for each round, with round by round running updates provided to create a competitive atmosphere & for tweaking of the teams’ strategies & flights. A special thanks to Michelle for capturing the scores – this taking pressure of myself & allowing me to concentrate on flying. I maintain that the HTL is virtually a self running event as the MGA competition box providing the necessary materials that can be used by the minimum number of people to manage upwards of 30 competitive pilots. However, the more people involved in running the actual event, the far less is the load on the individuals concerned – “many hands make light work” being an apt description for any competition or event organization.

But I guess that is really what these events are all about – sharing the fun of RC soaring with friends & family.
Rodney Goodrum fetching the parachute - Round 3

The pilots are scored according to the Sawtooth profile – it peaks every 2 minutes, with a 50 point differential over the last 5 seconds to the peak! Getting it right is rewarded, getting it wrong & the score penalty is huge. Landings are also awarded 200 points for the spot – so accuracy with this aspect is also crucial, and makes for a rather challenging event. It is important to note that the 2M models can score the same points for maxing their 6 minute task as the Open class can achieve with their 10 minute goal. This provides an inherent handicap mechanism, with landings being scored the same.

The teams have been sorted according to their final (round 5) rankings. It is interesting to note that 5 teams changed positions in the final round – the sudden change in weather clearly conditions playing havoc with the pilots’ scores.

Rank, TEAMS (pilots), Team score

  1. 3G ‘n T (Craig Goodrum, Michelle Goodrum, Rodney Goodrum, Lionel Brink ), 14,208
  2. Silverton Eagles (Chris Adrian, Johan Bruwer, Conrad Klintworth) 13,875
  3. Every Thermal Busted (Paul Carnall, Dion Liebenberg, Herman Weber, Jason Weber), 13,242
  4. Blast from the past (Anton Coetzee, Wolfgang Steffny, Trevor Austin, Simon Tladi), 13,025
  5. Zulu Warriors (Dave Greer, Allan Sneedon, Dennis Bird, Peter Moore), 12,499
  6. Bold Evan’s Regular Group(Derek Marusich, Piet Rheeders, Evan Shaw, Peter Joffe), 12,139
  7. Far & Wide(Tony Roberts, Gert Niewoudt, Jochen Schmidt, Rudolf Engelman), 8,952
  8. Jailbirds(Alan Smith, Johan Geldenhuys, Piet Janse van Vuuren), 8,445
  9. Flying Fish(Derrick Fish, Juanita Smith, Reino Jacobs), 4,702

Most of the teams read as a “who’s who” of SA RC soaring, with the strongest representation obviously from Gauteng but KZN’s top flyers also stirring sticks in the mix. Perhaps the most interesting score is Peter Joffe’s round 4 max with a 5 min 58 second flight and a sub 1 metre landing clinching the slot 3 top score with a 2 metre RES Tsotsi model. From the individual scores it is clear to see just how close the competition was with the top 6 teams regularly achieving upwards of 80% of the slot winning scores.

Just as a reminder, the matrix was determine with the F3J Score program, and scoring was performed using a spreadsheet & the Sawtooth profile.

Whilst the individual results are not part of the Triathlon, they do count towards the league & are included for completeness. The top 5 pilots are all within a 90% of the individual leader with almost a third of the field achieving 80% of the winning score providing an indication of the level of competition in this HTL which has not been unusual for the year.

The Junior pilots also showed the seniors a thing or two – Conrad in particular whipping the majority of the field, with Jason & Simon all placing in the top half. I am especially proud of the novice pilots – they were all flying 2m metre or Fling models, and given the conditions & the strong competition, I believe they performed exceptionally well under the guidance of Alan. Congratulations for this achievement & trust we will see more form these pilots in the future.

Rank, Pilot, Club, Class, Score

  1. Chris Adrian, SGC, Open, 4,966
  2. Craig Goodrum, MMS, Open, 4,904
  3. Conrad Klintworth (Jnr), SGC, Open, 4,867
  4. Lionel Brink, MMS, Open, 4,783
  5. Paul Carnall, ETB, Open, 4,616
  6. Derek Marusich, BERG, Open, 4,428
  7. Anton Coetzee, MMS, Open, 4,403
  8. Johan Bruwer, SGC, Open, 4,254
  9. Dion Liebenberg, ETB, Open, 4,227
  10. Michelle Goodrum, MMS, Open, 4,168
  11. Allan Sneedon, DMAC, Open, 4,043
  12. Peter Moore, BERG, Open, 3,960
  13. Jason Weber (Jnr), ETB, Open, 3,955
  14. Simon Tladi (Jnr), MMS, Open, 3,951
  15. Trevor Austin, MMS, Open, 3,935, 15
  16. Rodney Goodrum, MMS, Open, 3,815
  17. Evan Shaw, BERG, Open, 3,777
  18. Wolfgang Steffny, MMS, Open, 3,689
  19. Dennis Bird, DMAC, 2M, 3,625
  20. Peter Joffe, BERG, 2M, 3,527
  21. Herman Weber, ETB, Open, 3,481
  22. Gert Niewoudt, TRMC, Open, 3,451
  23. Alan Smith, New, 2M, 3,434
  24. Reino Jacobs (Novice), New, 2M, 2,873
  25. Dave Greer, DMAC, Open, 2,822
  26. Johan Geldenhuys (Novice), New, 2M, 2,649
  27. Piet Janse van Vuuren (Novice) , New, 2M, 2,407
  28. Tony Roberts, BERG, 2M, 2,260
  29. Piet Rheeders, BERG, Open, 2,220
  30. Jochen Schmidt, BERG, Open, 1,997
  31. Rudolf Engelman, BERG, 2M, 1,976
  32. Derrick Fish (Novice), New, 2M, 1,485
  33. Juanita Smith (Novice), New, 2M, 457

Thank you to everyone for a wonderful event.

Fly safely.

Volksrust murder

Crime is a global phenomena, but it is embarrassing as a South African to have to constantly deal with such brutality. On Saturday, 6 December 2008 we learnt of the tragedy; the brutal murder of Oom Jan, owner of the farm of South Africa's on which is based the premier inland slope soaring site: the Tamatieberg. The extract is from the 8 Dec 2008 Beeld newspaper.

Jan de Beer had been through very tough times but has always been extremely tolerant of the slope soaring community; he always trusted us to ensure that his farm was kept clean & free of litter, no fires were lit & also that we did not scare the wild or farm animals.

Rest in peace now, Oom Jan

2008 F3B Team Trails at GGGC

It rained. And then it rained some more. The month preceding the F3B Team Trial was probably the wettest all year & I was getting very nervous that the trials would be postponed again. Let me put this in context – we have an average rainfall of around 600 mm for the year, and in one month we had almost recorded more than half of that! Evan Shaw, the national F3B Representative, had the foresight to schedule two days for the trials, but this weather was being caused by intense low-pressure cells drawing in moisture from the warm Indian Ocean and running across 5 – 6 days per cycle. Fortunately, the rain held off long enough, and we were treated to a fantastic day; with some of the best soaring weather that Africa musters. We were also fortunate to witness the elite F3B pilots in SA competing against each other for one of the most coveted prizes – that of holding one of only three positions in the National F3B team.

Craig's Ceres flicks around Base A - speed task
We arrived early at the GGGC field, finding that Evan & his team of helpers had already laid-out the launch corridor, sights & buzzers. Everyone was matrixed & the organization was as smooth as velvet for the rest of the day too. Fortunately the early start was made far more pleasant by breakfast at the field hosted again by Martie’s travelling diner (a wonderful fixture at RC gliding events). I seriously doubt that we would have made the day without her, as the temperatures shot up to 34 degrees Celsius in the shade with an oppressively high humidity factor. The glorious field we flew at also made it very special – the grass farm on which GGGC is based must be rated as one of the finest fields to fly thermal RC gliders in South Africa!

Evan’s organisation was equally impressive in its efficiency; we managed 6 full rounds of F3B, which equates to a total of 144 flights (excluding re-launches) from the 8 qualifying pilots. If you do the math & using the standard FAI required turnaround distance of 200 metres from the winch, we probably ran, jogged, & walked over 57 km to collect individual parachutes! Anyone who thinks that F3B is not a physical activity clearly does not have the ability to understand this sport.

No report on F3B is complete without detailing the flights. Round 1 saw Michelle Goodrum clinch the duration task with a convincing 9:58 & spot landing, electing to launch a minute into working time with her unballasted Ceres, drifting left & slowly around the field with the available lift which was very light so early in the morning. Dion Liebenberg flew a 18.8 seconds for his first speed run with his Crossfire, after numerous re-launches into the moderately still air. Craig Goodrum hammered the distance task home with a winning 26 lap first round score, or roughly 3.9 km in the allowed 4 minutes, flying a Ceres with some ballast.

Round 2 saw Michelle clinch duration again, improving her time to 9:59 and a spot landing. This time around Craig Goodrum flew 21 seconds in speed in windy conditions, and also a 20 lap distance to clinch the round. Both flew their Ceres models with ballast. Round 3 and Michelle shared the top line honours in duration with Paul Carnall (flying his F3B Trinity), both recording perfect 10 minutes, but slipping into the 95 point landing (1 – 2 metres). Dion clinched speed with a 20.2 second run and Herman Weber the distance task with 16 laps in a brief period of sink using a Ceres model.

Caller madness at Base A - distance taskThe highlight of F3B is always the speed run, but the humid conditions seemed to hold everyone back a bit. In a slight change of roles from the SA National Championships this year, Michelle Goodrum was crowned speedster for the day, clocking the only sub 16 second run at 15.7 seconds with her ballasted Ceres, running at roughly 137.6 kph (and which includes three 180 degree turns) during round 4. It may appear tough to be “beaten by a girl”, but when you are flying against someone of the calibre of Michelle, it is a privilege to simply be on the same field as her! Round 4 was in fact all Michelle: 9:58 for duration with a 2 metre landing, 15.7 seconds speed run and 23 lap distance saw her recording a perfect 3,000 point round. Craig flew a 25 lap distance in his matrixed group to record a 1,000 pointer too after his #1 Ceres write off from the previous round. Round 5 and Craig flew a perfect 10 minute duration with a spot landing, and 18.2 second speed run and another 26 lap distance task to clinch the round. Craig used the circle tow technique to maximise stretch in the monofilament nylon (81.5kg speed line) – zipping alone just a few feet above the ground & then when he sensed building lift flooring the winch & zooming into the stratosphere with his very, very heavily ballasted Ceres.

The final round 6, again saw Craig carrying line honours across all three tasks with another perfect 10 minute duration and spot landing, 17.6 second speed run & 21 lap distance. Derek Marusich also flew a perfect 10 minute duration with a spot landing to share the “partial” or task honours with 1,000 points.

Although speed and distance are exciting in F3B, the overall quality of the results from the duration task were not to be scoffed at either (and is probably a result of the focus over the past 12 months on F3J & thermal duration events), with most pilots maxing each round using their purpose built F3B models.

Dion launching Herman's Ceres
Casualties were unfortunately aplenty too. At the start of round 3, and in a moment of madness, Craig took his eyes off his #1 Ceres just after the launch & then flew someone else’s model until the now-pilotless Ceres smote the earth with the most gruesome force some considerable distance away. The damage was catastrophic – even the v-tails disintegrated, but the worst was that this was his first task for the round, so he had to sit the round out & use up all his throwaways. When I asked him where the forward portion of the nose was – he replied that it was to deep to retrieve & had left it behind! As we have come to expect from this amazing competitor, he came back fighting in the very next round with his second model (although it did require some “preparation” to get it flyable during his thrown away round).

Next casualty was Dion Liebenberg in Round 4; during his speed run he turned early around Base A & in re-rounding with his heavily ballasted Crossfire appeared to tip stall, cart wheeling it into the ground and shedding bits of very expensive carbon across the field. Again, as this was his first task of the round he paid dearly with the entire round.

Wolfgang Steffny appears to have suffered from a radio “lock-out” when his X-21 spiralled into the ground during the Round 4 duration task & which rather comprehensively destroyed itself within a very small patch of the field. Unfortunately not much remained to identify the cause of the crash.

Lionel about to launch Craig's Ceres - duration task
Not to be outdone, Michelle lost elevator control of her model on launch in the duration task of Round 5 – possibly due to a bad battery or broken linkage. In her attempt to recover using only flaps for control, the nose snapped clean off in front of the LE also destroying the v-tail pushrods. Bits of carbon tube joined the pushrods again, copious quantities of CA & kicker, carbon, old saw blades, bits from Craig’s previously destroyed Ceres, and lots of tape, soon had her up in the following rounds again, & loosing only her duration score for the round.

Piet Rheeders, one of the veterans of F3B in SA, lost elevator authority on his Makhulu (a local designed & built F3B/J composite model) during the 6th round, but managed to land safely without incurring more damage – he unfortunately had to sit out for the remainder of the round due to a lack of a back-up model. Interestingly, in 1975 Piet qualified in 16th place for the SA trials of the first F3B World Championships hosted in SA in 1976. He made the top 15 for the Trials when someone withdrew, and placed 9th. At the time Piet was flying an Aquila and his fastest time was around 30 seconds for two laps. In those days they flew only 6 minutes duration slots and 2 lap speed runs. So in 34 years he has improved two places from 9th to 7th in the team trial!

We had more fun too – Herman’s comment about pulling out our calendars to time his “speed” run resulted in a lot of good natured silliness. Michelle’s “touch, slide & go” during a speed run had the resident aerobatics judges awarding her a 7/10 for artistic interpretation (for the record, she also cut a base during this run & even with her double turn-around base “B” she still made a respectable 25 second run).. Herman, who achieved a smarter re-entry from a similar touch & go, was scored 8/10 for his efforts (also during a speed run). A round of applause from the spectators & pilots was provided to Wolfgang when he saved his model from crashing at the end of his speed run. To thank Evan & the helpers the MGA bought them all a round of beer at the end of the day – when Martie asked how many beers they required the unanimous response was “all of them”!

In keeping with the National Team Selection Process, the final results were scored using the current 207/2008 F3B rules from the FAI/CIAM where only the lowest scoring of each task (partial) is considered a throw away after 6 rounds have been flown.

Pilot, Total, Ranking
Craig Goodrum, 14,690, 1
Michelle Goodrum, 13,547, 2
Dion Liebenberg, 13,344, 3
Paul Carnall, 13,248, 4
Herman Weber, 13,066, 5
Derek Marusich, 12,712, 6
Piet Rheeders, 11,121, 7
Wolfgang Steffny, 10,590, 8

Combining the Team Trials with the individuals’ best qualification round as per the MGA qualification process for 2008, the team selection results (note that the results are based on the average score per round flown to normalise differences between events, and the best qualification event is added to the Team Trial event for final ranking).

Pilot, Q1 (Avg), Q2 (Avg), Best Qualifier, TT (Avg), Total, Ranking
Craig Goodrum, 2,910, 2,849, 2,910, 2,938, 5,848, 1
Michelle Goodrum, 2,704, 2,859, 2,859, 2,709, 5,568, 2
Dion Liebenberg, 2,595, 2,505, 2,595, 2,669, 5,264, 3
Paul Carnall, 2,538, 2,532, 2,538, 2,650, 5,187, 4
Herman Weber, 2,227, 2,340, 2,340, 2,613, 4,954, 5
Derek Marusich, 1,857, 2,036, 2,036, 2,542, 4,578, 6
Wolfgang Steffny, 1,935, 1,968, 1,968, 2,118, 4,086, 7
Piet Rheeders, 1,802, -, 1,802, 2,224, 4,026, 8

Craig Goodrum, Michelle Goodrum, and Dion Liebenberg all qualify for the 2009 SA National F3B Team. Paul Carnal is first (non-travelling) reserve, Herman Weber is second (non-travelling) reserve, etc…

On behalf of the MGA, I would like to congratulate all these pilots for an outstanding competitive spirit during the selection process & wish the team the best of luck with their preparations for the 2009 F3B World Championship.

As is typical of any well run event, we would like to thank the organisers & particularly the helpers who dedicated their entire day to assisting a handful of RC pilots. I have often felt that there is only one thing worse than not flying – watching everyone else fly! We are deeply ingratiated to these dedicated individuals who make these events possible.

Fly safely

Results from 3rd WAG qualfier

The Third South African WAG Qualifier was flown at the lush Groen Goud Glider Club field on Saturday, 8 November 2008. Notice of the event was published nationally and reminders were sent out a reasonable time in advance, suggesting that the event was “open to all”. Lionel Brink in his capacity as WAG observer, and Mark Stockton as CD were the event officials. Scoring was performed by Lionel, and checked & confirmed by Mark. Both Mark & Lionel confirmed that each pilot launched & landed within the allotted time/landing area for each slot. Any landings outside of the box were confirmed with the individual pilot’s timekeeper & no disputes were raised during the event.

The weather conditions started out as very blustery & a violent downpour, but changed to wet, overcast & with a relatively strong breeze. The box was clearly defined with the aid of steel poles cushioned with what looked suspiciously like swimming pool noodles - roughly 5000 sq. metres (being equivalent to approx. 50m x 100m), with the longest portion perpendicular to the prevailing winds as per the WAG rules. Pilots drew random numbers from a hat to enter into pre-matrixed slots for the preliminary rounds.

All times were recorded in seconds, all normalization based on the maximum time recorded for each slot. Rankings were based on normalized scores for each task.

Pilot briefings were held before every round to ensure that each pilot understood the rules. Pilots were either flying or timing for one of their competitors.

Results for task 1 (last flight)

Pilots, Slot, Time, Normalised, Ranking
Derek Marusich, 1, 90, 776, 5
Stephane du Ponsel, 1, 102, 879, 3
Alan Smith, 1, 116, 1000, 1
Gary Grainger, 2, 61, 871, 4
Piet Janse van Vuuren, 2, 70, 1000, 1
Lionel Smith, 2, 54, 771, 6
Reino Jacobs, 2, 54, 771, 6

Results for task 2 (last up x 3)

Pilot,Slot, Time 1, Time 2, Time 3, Normalised, Ranking
Derek Marusich,1, 89, 67, 96, 897, 4
Stephane du Ponsel, 1, 97, 81, 103, 1000, 1
Piet Janse van Vuuren, 1, 61, 0, 53, 406, 6
Reino Jacobs, 1, 0, 52, 58, 391, 7
Alan Smith, 2, 82, 130, 125, 1000, 1
Gary Grainger, 2, 45, 80, 67, 570, 5
Lionel Smith, 2, 68, 92, 143, 899, 3

The results from both tasks were accumulated with all pilots qualifying for the semi-finals, which saw the top 6 go through to the semi-final round.

Pilot, Round 1, Round 2, Preliminary, Ranking
Alan Smith, 1000, 1000, 2000, 1
Stephane du Ponsel, 879, 1000, 1,879, 2
Derek Marusich, 776, 897, 1673, 3
Lionel Smith, 771, 899, 1671, 4
Gary Grainger, 871, 570, 1441, 5
Piet Janse van Vuuren, 1000, 406, 1406, 6
Reino Jacobs, 771, 391, 1163, 7

For the semi finals, pilots were grouped into 2 slots, based on their preliminary round rankings (odds & evens). The semi-finals were flown using the last up x 3 format of Task 2. Lots of zero scores recorded due to models being blown away from the box in the high winds.

Pilot, Slot, Time 1, Time 2, Time 3, Normalised, Ranking
Alan Smith, 1, 123, 180, 159, 1000, 1
Derek Marusich, 1, 0, 0, 140, 303, 5
Piet Janse van Vuuren, 1, 0, 46, 89, 292, 6
Stephane du Ponsel, 2, 116, 87, 58, 1000, 1
Lionel Smith, 2, 109, 0, 2, 425, 4
Gary Grainger, 2, 63, 63, 89, 824, 3

The top 4 placed pilots based on the semi-final rankings qualified for the finals, during which a knock-out format was flown, with the “last pilot standing” declared the winner.

Pilot, Ranking
Alan Smith, 1
Stephane du Ponsel, 2
Lionel Smith, 3
Gary Grainger, 4

As the officials observing, we declare that the above results are an accurate & fair representation of the 3rd South African WAG qualification round.

3rd WAG ranking

Using the formula ”(SQRT(Total Competitors)/(Position in Event))*100” the WAG qualification results were determined by Mark Stockton as:

Pilot, WAG ranking
Alan Smith, 264.58
Stephane du Ponsel, 132.29
Lionel Smith, 88.19
Gary Grainger, 66.14
Derek Marusich, 52.92
Piet Janse van Vuuren, 44.10
Reino Jacobs, 37.80

Notice of change of date - F3B Team Trials

Hi All

Thanks everyone for your response to the request for alternate dates for the F3B Team Trials. Based on feedback it is clear that everyone will be available on the 22nd & 23rd November. So that will be the weekend!

Now that that is settled, can I please have a show of hands from people willing to help out at Base B as well as offering their services to the pilots. Our F3B Pilots would really appreciate all the help they can get. So PLEASE guys and girls! If you can help send me an email and offer your services.

The venue will be Groengoudt. Starting at 08h00 on Saturday 22nd. In all likelihood we should complete the trials on the Saturday, but we may need to use the Sunday to finish if we run into problems.

As I said in an earlier mail, the top pilots are really putting in amazing speed times, and to witness a speed run close to 15 seconds makes the hairs on your neck stand up. So if you want a little excitement then come and see for yourself. And even better offer to help.


TOSS Aerobatic Competition - Feb 2009

The Two Oceans Slope Soarers Aerobatic Event 2009 is on the go!

This aerobatic competition will be taking place at Red Hill, Cape Town on the Saturday 31st January and Sunday 1st February 2009, and hosted by Two Oceans Slope Soarers.

The event is not intended as a fly-in, but as a pure slope aerobatic competition that has over time disappeared from the active flying calendar. We hope to revive and stimulate new interest in this competitive format through this annual event.

This is not going to be the Nationals!, but hopefully it will be a start at creating interest and growth in the competitive slope aerobatics discipline.

Competitors are required to bring a sense of humour as well as their RC kit and planes. Entrants will be limited to 20 pilots for the event, due to time restraints for the two days, and the first 10
slots will be reserved for Two Oceans Slope Soarers club members.

The competition format, costs, schedule, judges, and all other details will be made available via a
PDF posted on the relevant sites. We invite RC pilots countrywide to come and enjoy 2 days of
competition and fun on the slope.

If you are interested in attending the event, please confirm your intention to do so via an email to info@toss.co.za.

Notice of F3B Team Trials

It's just under 2 weeks to go before the F3B Team Trials at Groengoud. Evan has included the invitations to those pilots that have qualified for trials according to the approach set in 2007 (see below).

This call is mainly to generate awareness and also to ask for volunteers to assist. So if you would like to help, please drop me a line. Our F3B Pilots really need your help and support.

The event will take place on Sunday 19th.

According to the qualification rules, only the top ten pilots are eligable to participate in the Team Trials. If you cannot or do not wish to attend, please let me know so the next person on the list can move up.

1;Craig Goodrum;2910.25;2848.97;2910.25;2879.61
2;Michelle Goodrum;2703.75;2858.89;2858.89;2781.32
3;Dion Liebenberg;2595;2505.09;2595;2550.045
4;Paul Carnall;2537.75;2531.89;2537.75;2534.82
5;Peter Eagle;2524.75; ;2524.75;2524.75
6;Herman Weber;2227;2340.31;2340.31;2283.655
7;Stephane du Ponsel; ;2275.48;2275.48;2275.48
8;Alan Smith; ;2183.53;2183.53;2183.53
9;Wolfgang Steffny;1935;1967.68;1967.68;1951.34
10;Conrad Klintworth;1911.75; ;1911.75;1911.75

11;Derek Marusich;1856.75;1628.8;1856.75;1742.775
12;Piet Rheeders;1801.15; ;1801.15;1801.15
13;Lionel Brink;1734.5; ;1734.5;1734.5
14;Rudi King;1610.5; ;1610.5;1610.5
15;Johan Bruwer;1407; ;1407;1407
16;Ian Lessem;1327.75; ;1327.75;1327.75
17;Simon Tladi;1033.5; ;1033.5;1033.5
18;Rodney Goodrum;924.25;688.18;924.25;806.215
19;Ryan Nelson;659.75; ;659.75;659.75

Qualifying Procedure for F3B World Championships

The selection process for the National team to represent the republic of South Africa at the F3B World championships are:

  • There will be 3 competitions scheduled for the year preceding the World Championships.
  • Two of the three scores will count towards the SA F3B Team selection.
  • The first two competitions are scheduled as Qualifiers and the last competition will be a Team Trial.
  • The top 10 qualifiers from the two qualifying rounds will be eligible for participation in the Team Trials event.
  • One of the two Qualifying competitions should coincide with the Gliding Nationals if possible and the other as a stand alone F3B event.
  • The Team Trials will be held at a neutral venue if at all possible.
  • The F3B Team Trials will count 50% of the final score. Of the two Qualifiers the lowest score will be a throw-away and the resulting high score will count as the remaining 50% of the final selection.
  • All the competitions will be flown to FAI F3B rules.
  • Only SAMAA members are eligible to enter.
  • If selected for the team, only South African Citizens qualify for National Colours.

Fly safely

2008 HTL - WHRF in October

The 8th HTL for the year was hosted at WHRF, a mixed discipline club just west of Centurion/Pretoria. The field was typical for post winter highveld; short grass with a very hard/dry surface. However, the club has ensured that the grass stays cut throughout the year & overall the surface is smooth with only an outlying "rough" section. The wind started early in the morning from an unusual ESE direction, but swung predictably before midday to arrive more from the East. Bubbles were kicked up at regular intervals & those who followed these downwind more-often than not maxed their flight times. The constant breeze made landings relatively predictable, but the challenge at this event was more on the thermal side - as an example, slot 3 of round 4 witnessed a winning time of only 5 mins 58 secs!

Unfortunately only 14 pilots flew - from 16 entries, perhaps a reflection that the 3 throwaway rounds for the 2008 league is simply too lenient when compared with the strong showing form 2006/2007? Rule changes for 2009 are being considered, and the most likely proposed so far is to return to fewer throwaways. Most people have indicated that the "fixed" weekend format is best. The competition started fairly late - pilots briefing was only between 09h00 & 09h30, first slot was finished before 10:00, but we all finished by 15h30, including a full 30 min lunchy (thanks to Martie's traveling diner) in between. CD'ing was a breeze with 12 minute working time & 3'ish minute preparation time - fortunately only one delay occured due to line breaks.
The comments received from some of the pilots was that the somewhat relaxed pace allowed for a fun event in the challenging conditions. Martie's diner provided refreshments from early on & kept the energy levels high throughout the day. Judging by the jokes & comments sent up & down the flight line, most people were enjoying themselves too.

I am not aware of any incidents during the day, except Derek ripping the rudder out of his Sagitta's fin post during a downwind landing. Best flight of the day was Michelle's 10:00 & a 0-1 metre landing. Trevor Austin's 5:58 was a notable achievement during a particularly vicious period of absolute & extensive sink. Many excellent flights were recorded - the shouts of joy from various individuals who recorded exact 10:00 or 9:59.99's attesting to this. Quality stuff indeed.

Ranking, Pilot, Club, Score, Percentage of winner's score
1 Goodrum; Craig MMS 4991.1(100.0 %)
2 Goodrum; Michelle MMS 4984.0 (99.9 %)
3 Liebenberg; Dion ETB 4973.6 (99.7 %)
4 Brink; Lionel MMS 4936.8 (98.9 %)
5 Lessem; Ian MMS 4913.5 (98.4 %)
6 Goodrum; Rodney MMS 4877.3 (97.7 %)
7 Austin; Trevor MMS 4777.9 (95.7 %)
8 Marusich; Derek BER 4724.9 (94.7 %)
9 Weber; Herman ETB 4619..7 (92.6 %)
10 Weber; Jason ETB 4552.8 (91.2 %)
11 Bruwer; Johan SGC 4484.2 (89.8 %)
12 King; Rudi SGC 4469.8 (89.6 %)
13 Steffny; Wolfgang MMS 3806.6 (76.3 %)
14 Prahm; Gordon BER 1300.8 (26.1 %) 2M class

Craig Goodrum takes the line honours again with a consistent & class leading performance. Michelle was only 7 points behind the winner, but achieved the most number of slot wins & best flight of the day! Dion put in a valiant effort from ETB & was placed 3rd overall in the Open class. Notice that more than half of the competitors all recorded scores within 10 % of the winner - close stuff.

Gordon flew a little 2M all day & takes sole line honours - deservedly for his bravery in these windy conditions. Derek also flew his Sagitta, but has elected to fly Open class this year.

Top junior was Jason Weber, who just missed winning his slots by only the narrowest of margins & has shown awesome improvement this year. This youngster is definitely going to be one to keep an eye on in the future.

This time around MMS simply obliterated the competition, with ETB 2nd & BERG 3rd - both due to rather small entries from these clubs.
Fly safely

2008 HTL #6 at SGC

We all know the theory - that wind speed does not affect the performance of a flying model (refer to the well known description of flying off the deck of an aircraft carrier moving at the same speed / direction as the wind). However, this assumes a constant wind velocity & does not take sheer layers & 90 degree gusts into account, with you hat being blown away whilst you try to cling onto your Tx! The annual "August" winds had not blown out yet & launched their attack on the Silverton Gliding Club's stunning grass farm field, just East of Pretoria, so the "constant velocity" assumption did not hold, and the wind justifiably created havoc within the RC Pilots' minds.

This however, does not detract from very well run & smooth event. Once again Volney had us starting promptly (after parking all the cars in precise lines). Pilots briefing, rules & slots were run with precision, but considerable allowances were made for preparation times - as the developmental & more relaxed focus of HTL is the RC thermal flying & not the strength of equipment & professional turnaround of teams.

The first few slots were relatively calm, a steady breeze pushing easy lift through with good maxes (everyone flew to 10 minute tasks) and not so good landings. By round 3, the wind had leapt up the Beaufort scale & lines were snapping with frustrating regularity. Of course everyone had the opportunity to launch softer, but "Africa is not for sissies" and beeeg launches were the order of the day. Yeeha!

Grabe did his best impersonation of Rodney, when he literally knife edged his 2M model between the trees. Not to be outdone the members of the Geriatrix team kept up their running comedy commentary the entire day - with teams on either side complaining of strained laugh muscles at the end of the day! The only casualty for the day was newbie Grant (who had only "learnt to launch") the day before! Admittedly under some egging on from myself, Craig floored the winch pedal & the rear wing bolt sheered through triple carbon layers & it fluttered over to the launch line. The resulting lawn dart streaked downwards with an impressive whistle & very tidily embedded itself up to recently departed leading edge. Shortly afterwards, we had triple winch / line failure & decided to revert to "F3J" style. Unfortunately, this Gentle Ladies wings were not designed for the gentle trot of a F3J Tigger & the resulting balsa lawn dart was far less elegant than the composite version.

The most inspirational flight of the day was watching Craig fly back from miles away at low altitude against the headwind, then worked the lift DLG style around the landing area for almost 3 minutes to max!

Everyone enjoyed the day, and we still saw an incredibly close finish from best 5 of 6 rounds flown:

Rank; Pilot; Score; Percentage
1;Conrad Klintworth; 4,997;100.0%
2;Craig Goodrum; 4,994;99.9%
3;Paul Carnall; 4,991;99.9%
4;Ian Lessem; 4,981;99.7%
5;Michelle Goodrum; 4,959;99.2%
6;Piet Rheeders; 4,768;95.4%
7;Chris Adrian; 4,673;93.5%
8;Herman Weber; 4,665;93.4%
9;Lionel Brink; 4,626;92.6%
10;Deon Liebenberg; 4,525;90.5%
11;Rudi King; 4,466;89.4%
12;Jason Weber; 4,266;85.4%
13;Simon Thladi; 4,090;81.8%
14;Trevor Austin; 4,081;81.7%
15;Derek Marusich; 4,068;81.4%
16;Gert Nieuwoudt; 4,051;81.1%
17;Rodney Goodrum; 3,933;78.7%
18;Johan Bruwer; 3,673;73.5%
19;Wolfgang Steffny; 3,264;65.3%
20;Jochen; 3,168;63.4%
21;Volney Klintworth; 3,161;63.3%;2m & RES100
22;Gordon Prahm; 3,012;60.3%;2m & RES100
23;Grant McAlpine; 2,252;45.1%;2m & RES100
24;Grabe de Villiers; 1,145;22.9%;2m & RES100

On a sadder note, we learnt that Evan's daughter was involved in a fatal car accident earlier that morning. Our thoughts are with the Shaw family at this time.

In respect

2008 F3J World Championships - Report Part 3

Our champion

The master at work - another perfect spot landing during practice
“There are 11 places in the senior’s fly-off”

These were the words of the Contest CD, Serdar Süalp & were acknowledged by the chief judge, Tomas Bartovsky, president of the jury during the managers meeting. In other words, out of the 77 pilots representing 25 countries, only 11 would be eligible to contest their individual ranking in the fly-offs.

F3J is interesting in this respect: that 12 preliminary rounds are flown which constitute the “team” or country, event, then only those top pilots who qualify get to fly again in 6 rounds against each other – man-on-man to contest the best individual of the event & ultimate world champion for two years! No carry-over of scores, no matrixing, 15 minute slots, everyone launches, flys & lands together. High stakes, big stress, all-or-nothing stuff. This is what F3J World Championships are all about, where not only do you have to be a world class pilot with a superb team, but you also require nerves of steel & bags of tactical experience. If you don’t have these qualities, then perhaps F3J World Championships are not the place for you?

The 2008 WC participants
However, after 12 rounds of prelims – South Africa had a pilot in the senior fly-offs; Craig Goodrum. Craig has achieved fly-off status before & was narrowly pipped to third place in Red Deer in 2004. During the 12 rounds of prelims, I had been on the flight line for each of his flights, counting each agonising second down to the launch, holding my breath as he bent the gliders wings under the massive tension the towmen produced & heard the glider snap through the release as it shot skywards! Watching Craig fly in challenging conditions is always special, as I believe he possesses one of the finest skills of conserving energy & probably can read air better than most, this combined with many years of tactical knowledge & understanding of the other pilots. In fact, I would not hesitate to state that 2008 was the finest I have ever seen Craig fly, his every flight was simply goosebump filled for the full 10 or 15 minutes!

But I am getting a little ahead of myself. The first slot approached & Craig was just so incredibly relaxed! Michelle afterwards said that “he has done this all before”, but I am constantly stunned by the professional approach he adopts. He is a fantastic example of “big match temperament”, and is capable of lifting his game as required. I was a bundle of nerves when we walked out onto the field – proud of being part of the team representing Craig, and stressed out of my mind with the responsibility of throwing his model(s) during launch. I knew from Slovakia in 2006 that we could not afford a call-back (any model deemed by the judges to have left the hand of the helper, before the launch tone, is penalised by immediately landing & relaunch – which is effectively “game-over” in the high stakes of WC finals). I simply could not look back to the crowds who had all gathered to watch – even they were noticeably quieter than usual. Was the wind quite too?

Fully focussed on flying
Craig indicated he required his Pike SL (“super lite”) & we pre-tensioned the line with Michelle signalling to our towmen. With 30 seconds to go, I started moving back to the launch corridor – probably adrenaline pushed me right to the back of the line & Craig cautioned against overstepping the line. 10 seconds to go, the towmen were at full tension & I was fully focused on the clock. Craig was standing somewhere behind with Michelle to his left as always. The countdown was called – 5 seconds to go, and an eternity to 4 seconds. 3 seconds & I was aware of the breeze pulling towards the right of the field. Another eternity passed. 2 seconds, FULL TENSION, everything alert, body & model are tensed for explosive release. 1 second, time is flowing, & no longer a constant measure with discrete units. 0 seconds, the buzzer hesitates, but at the first sound I throw with everything that I have & push upwards. Craig’s Pike is now in ballistic launch mode – under full line tension, the acceleration from ground zero to flying speed is achieved almost instantaneously. Barely 3 seconds pass & he dips the model slightly to accelerate with the stretched line, zooming away from the line at around 4 seconds. The model climbs & climbs for ever, then just as you think it has to start sliding back down again, the nose eases over & he starts for the last known thermal area.
To be honest, I barely remember any of the flight details, but I do recall that after 13 minutes the “2 minutes to go” warning was sounded. At 30 seconds Craig is over the field and has lined up perfectly, ignoring the other gliders all milling around for their respective last second landings from over the tents & everyone is aiming for that little spot at their feet. 10 seconds & full flap is deployed, the nose of the model is steeply angled down into the breeze. 5 seconds & Craig speeds it up a bit to bring it in, then slows it for the final 2 seconds, hovering in the path to the spot. Between 1 second & buzzer his model touches the spot for a perfect landing. I immediately compare times with the independent time keeper – 14 minutes 55.2 seconds is agreed with a full scoring 100 point landing! The next slots starts in 5 minutes, so we have no time to find out that Craig was 3rd overall – even though he is flying against 4 past world champions. He simply focuses on the next slot & we continue forward.

Round / Group : 1 / 1
Pos;Country;Surname;Name;Flying Time;Landing;Score;Remark
1;GER;Feigl ;Benedikt ;14.57.80;95;996.6;
2;GER;Lammlein ;Tobias ;11.54.20;100;817.3;
3;GER;Kolb ;Philip ;14.27.00;100;970.7;
4;TUR;Esibatır ;Murat ;13.59.80;100;943.4;
5;RSA;Goodrum ;Craig ;14.55.20;100;999.0;
6;SLO;Rizner ;Primoz ;14.56.10;95;994.9;
7;USA;Perkins ;Daryl ;14.55.00;100;998.8;
8;AUS;Hobby ;David ;14.53.70;100;997.5;
9;CZE;Vostrel ;Jaroslav ;14.54.60;100;998.4;
10;CZE;Duchan ;Jiri ;14.55.70;100;999.5;
11;NZE;Zaalberg ;Sven ;14.56.20;100;1000.0;

The pre-recorded announcer booms, 30 seconds to go! Launch flap set by Craig. Michelle is to his left. I walk the Pike SL back to the launch corridor, & Michelle signals for more tension on the line. An eternity passes as the towmen do there best to slowly pull the model from my hands. Even the tow hook groans under this level of tension. I use both hands top ensure that the model is lined up with 10 seconds to go. Again adrenaline starts to flow, and the last 8 seconds slow down to the speed of cold syrup oozing from a spout. The breeze is more pronounced on my face – the left side is drawing – indicating a possible thermal. I saw 2 birds earlier over the right side, but they have disappeared. The wind is a little stronger than the first slot. 7 seconds pass by in the syrup river, a small bubble perhaps? I step towards the back of the launch corridor to increase tension even more – even my left arm is feeling the strain now. A 6 second bubble dents the rivers surface as it slowly draws past. Time starts to accelerates towards the buzzer, as the stream thins. The buzzer sounds again just after the “0” on the clock & I throw with everything that I have got – the wings of the model are forgotten & the javelin arches upwards.
Horrifyingly, the Pike clips the Slovenian Xplorer to our left & suddenly all the Pike controls lockout. There is simply no control – Craig frantically moves the sticks, but the model is already arching over the top, still under full line tension as our towmen race forwards. At around 3 seconds the model is in a screaming dive & hits the ground with sickening destruction before most of the other models have even left their lines. The Pike’s nose embeds itself a full 30 cm’s into the ground & the remainder of the model disintegrates into carbon shards as the energy tears through the fuselage, wings & finally the tail set. Nothing remains. We are devastated.

I am too shocked to know what to do – so I turn to the time keeper & immediately call “reflight”. He appears equally shocked & raises his hand for the line judge – I see Alex Wunscheim running towards us long before I see Craig. His shoulders are slumped, his Tx is in his left hand – reflecting its uselessness. Michelle is also standing still, her stop watches still in her hands. The entire field is stunned in silence. Craig walks forward & motions - get the #2 model ready for the reflight. He calls for Chris to bring out his #3 X-Pro as a backup model to the flight line. I am just too devastated to talk. I am worried that I threw the model skew or did not compensate enough for the breeze. But Johan Snr assures me that the model went straight up – the Slovenia model (Xplorer) had moved to the right after launch. I still do not feel any better – Craig has a serious disadvantage in the refly – as everyone else will be going-for-broke with nothing to loose.
Round / Group : 2 / 1
Pos;Country;Surname;Name;Flying Time;Landing;Score;Remark
1;CZE;Duchan ;Jiri ;14.56.60;100;999.5;
2;NZE;Zaalberg ;Sven ;14.55.30;100;998.2;
3;GER;Feigl ;Benedikt ;14.57.00;100;999.9;(Low Score)
4;GER;Lammlein ;Tobias ;14.55.30;100;998.2;
5;GER;Kolb ;Philip ;14.57.10;100;1000.0;
6;TUR;Esibatır ;Murat ;14.55.50;100;998.4;
7;RSA;Goodrum ;Craig ;00.00.00;0;0.0;Refly (4/1/7)
8;SLO;Rizner ;Primoz ;14.55.20;100;998.1;
9;USA;Perkins ;Daryl ;14.55.40;95;993.3;
10;AUS;Hobby ;David ;14.56.90;85;984.8;
11;CZE;Vostrel ;Jaroslav ;14.55.40;100;998.3;
The orange, white & blue Pike Perfect now in hand, we pretension & wait for the countdown. The Yellow X-Pro (V-tail) lies on the ground, hoping no to be used. The syrup sensation returns as the seconds ooze past. At 30 seconds I walk back to the launch corridor, my senses are blocked way beyond any level of achieved thorugh an adrenaline rush. Everything I have is focussed on this launch. Craig has set the launch flap. Michelle is to his left. The line tension mounts as I move towards the box. At 21 seconds to go I am inside the corridor. Is this earlier than before? The towmen have already begun to hunker for their blast-off. I watch the clock. Craig momentarily twiddles the sticks – just confirming control, his only sign of letting the previous round affect him. He is utterly focussed. My stomach is pitted & knotted. I am sweating from the tension. He looks ahead, visualising the lift. The breeze is pulling ever so slightly towards the right. He places all the lift markers, and visualises a lift map. He is so focussed. Eternity passes. My stomach knots & un-knots. The announcer booms that “working time will start in ….” – we are all focussed now, the digital clock slowly changes to 4 seconds, I imagine each line of the massive LCD illuminating separately. 3 seconds to go. I have visualised the point I am aiming for, Craig is ready, he knows where he wants to go. Time oozes forward, the digital clock now the only point of reference. The breeze is forgotten, I stretch backwards putting my full weight on my right foot.

It's up there, somewhere - speccing out
At 0 seconds, the buzzer sounds almost immediately! I am ready, & push with my feet, my legs, & my back as my arm throws the model. Time reverts to a primordial sense and we become hunters. Instead of a model, a deadly club shoots forward towards some unseen prey & the launch is near perfect, albeit a little bit longer than 4 seconds for risk management purposes. I remember nothing of the flight, I focus on the stop watches, twice confirming this with the time keeper. Craig remains so focussed – I am not even sure he hears Michelle telling him what the others are doing. The 15 minutes pass by as the primordial gives way to present. My sense of sound returns too, first hearing the gliders whistling back to the field, and then the rustling of leaves caused by the wind. The announcer is counting down – with Michelle’s voice also calling Craig down on time. It’s been a long flight, with extremely tough conditions – Tobias, one of the top Germans lands short at only 8 minutes. Only the best pilots are involved with nothing to loose & everything to gain by beating the finest RC glider pilot I have ever known. Craig has to make this one count – he lands a touch early but it is on the spot – a good score, but will it be good enough? We pack up the models to make way for the junior fly-offs. As we walk past the TV screens, the scores flash up, it’s a 996. Will it be good enough? 4 rounds remain.
Round / Group : 2 / 2 ( Group Refly )
Pos;Country;Surname;Name;Flying Time*;Landing;Score;Remark
1;CZE;Duchan ;Jiri ;14.57.20;100;999.4;(Low Score)
2;NZE;Zaalberg ;Sven ;14.55.40;100;997.6;(Low Score)
3;GER;Feigl ;Benedikt ;14.57.80;100;1000.0;
4;GER;Lammlein ;Tobias ;08.26.10;95;602.4;(Low Score)
5;GER;Kolb ;Philip ;14.56.80;100;999.0;(Low Score)
6;TUR;Esibatır ;Murat ;09.56.20;100;697.7;(Low Score)
7;RSA;Goodrum ;Craig ;14.54.20;100;996.4;Reflied (2/1/7)
8;SLO;Rizner ;Primoz ;14.56.80;95;994.0;(Low Score)
9;USA;Perkins ;Daryl ;14.56.10;85;983.3;(Low Score)
10;AUS;Hobby ;David ;14.56.40;85;983.6;(Low Score)
11;CZE;Vostrel ;Jaroslav ;14.55.70;100;997.9;(Low Score)

We must wait 2 rounds for the junior fly-offs, before we can return to the field. The bits of the Pike SL are stripped of servos & other potentially re-usable items - not much remains. The carbon shards that remind us of the model are binned – even the canopy hold-down wire has penetrated the battery pack & these need to be disposed of safely. We watch the air as the wind strength keeps on increasing; reducing the thermals & spreading sink around. The juniors are finding the going tough – but they are all extremely professional & fly without incident.

Final seconds before a 100 point landing
Finally, seniors round 3 arrives. We walk out to the field & perform a text book setup. Line tension is huge again, & the launch is straight. Benedikt from Germany & Primoz from Slovakia (again) are not so fortunate. This time the Slovakian Xplorer does not get off so lightly in the collision & a reflight is called for both pilots. A spot landing, but a slower launch & earlier landing cost 1 or 2 seconds from the score. Craig has 998.5 and is now 6th or 7th overall. We stay on the field for the reflight.

Round / Group : 3 / 1
Pos;Country;Surname;Name;Flying Time*;Landing;Score;Remark
1;AUS;Hobby ;David ;14.55.60;95;995.3;(Low Score)
2;CZE;Vostrel ;Jaroslav ;13.17.00;90;891.2;(Low Score)
3;CZE;Duchan ;Jiri ;14.55.30;100;1000.0;
4;NZE;Zaalberg ;Sven ;13.44.30;100;928.7;(Low Score)
5;GER;Feigl ;Benedikt ;0;0;0.0;Refly (3/2/5)
6;GER;Lammlein ;Tobias ;14.56.70;95;996.4;
7;GER;Kolb ;Philip ;14.55.30;100;1000.0;
8;TUR;Esibatır ;Murat ;14.55.20;100;999.9;
9;RSA;Goodrum ;Craig ;14.53.80;100;998.5;(Low Score)
10;SLO;Rizner ;Primoz ;00.00.00;0;0.0;Refly (3/2/10)
11;USA;Perkins ;Daryl ;14.55.90;95;995.6;

I learnt so much about the tactics of this critical aspect of F3J. With nothing to loose, it is critical to go for fast launches & as late a landing as possible to maximise the score diferentials. The winning time is 14:56.4 – a launch of 3.5 seconds for a 15 minute max! Spot landings are essential. In terms of the results table, competitors can only carry one of the rounds score – across the event – so Jiri Duchan scores a low score in the refly, as his initial Round 3 was also a full 1,000 pointer! Craig scores a 999.4 – which is only 0.6 seconds behind the Czech! He is lying between 5th & 7th places. But we cannot leave the field to verify this as we must fly round 4.
Round / Group : 3 / 2 ( Group Refly )
Pos;Country;Surname;Name;Flying Time*;Landing;Score;Remark
1;AUS;Hobby ;David ;14.54.50;100;998.3;
2;CZE;Vostrel ;Jaroslav ;14.54.40;100;998.2;
3;CZE;Duchan ;Jiri ;14.56.20;100;1000.0;(Low Score)
4;NZE;Zaalberg ;Sven ;14.55.30;100;999.1;
5;GER;Feigl ;Benedikt ;14.55.10;100;998.9;Reflied (3/1/5)
6;GER;Lammlein ;Tobias ;14.56.50;95;995.3;(Low Score)
7;GER;Kolb ;Philip ;14.55.80;95;994.6;(Low Score)
8;TUR;Esibatır ;Murat ;14.55.90;95;994.7;(Low Score)
9;RSA;Goodrum ;Craig ;14.55.60;100;999.4;
10;SLO;Rizner ;Primoz ;14.55.40;100;999.2;Reflied (3/1/10)
11;USA;Perkins ;Daryl ;06.09.30;0;370.7;(Low Score)
The wind has sprung up again. Conditions are becoming very challenging, and we know the competitors are close. We have seen that the launches are incredibly fast, flight times are all being maxed & landings are all spots. We are placed at the furthest left end of the field – closest to the car park. I can feel the thermals swirling past – but no birds or clouds anymore – the sink is everywhere. Everyone is flying conservatively, nobody can risk taking chances, so the gliders all fly in tight – we only know what is happening in a very limited space. Pre-tension, Ian has run back a spare line following the double (reflight) launch on the primary line – we have 2 good lines ready. Pre-tension is completed with around 2 minutes to go. Everyone is looking around. Even the tent roofs appear to be dented from the sink. This round is going to be close. Probably a fast launch again & in very tough conditions.
At 30 seconds Michelle signals the towmen for ready. The breeze is directly from the front. I step back towards the launch corridor. My arms are burning with the repeated throws. My hands are slipping from sweat. I use my left hand to hold the tension against the nose, whilst my right grasps the fuselage just in front of the wing, wrapped with the chute. Craig rocks the wings a little to double check something. Michelle signals the towman to get ready. 8 seconds & I move into the back area of the corridor. At 1 second Michelle drops the signal & the towmen lunge forward. I do not feel the line stretching as I wait for the buzzer. The 1 second slowly morphs into a zero on the display, and as the buzzer sounds I throw. Again the javelin arcs straight up – Craig making minute corrections as he needs.

Another (Pike) Perfect landing
The extra breeze bends the wings even more than before & Craig slams the model off the line as he slingshots it into the stratosphere. We synchronise our watches with the time keeper – Michelle is focussed on calling air for Craig – I try & look elsewhere to feed her with the info that she cannot see. Two groups have formed – one over the left of the fields’s tree-line & the second is closer to the line of turn-arounds, and is clustering around the middle/right of the field. Neither group appears to be going up. Michelle is trying measure the rate of decent for both groups to give Craig a comparison. Not easy when half of the models are overhead. The rearward group begins to split – some nudging left, the others pushing forward. Craig stays with the nudgers, choosing the lower risk. He is dangerously low – and we are only a few minutes into the flight. Then the worst happens. The breakaway group begins to pick-up lift & the furthest left hit big sink – they all scramble for the right side, but Craig is still very low & has to try to work what he has to get sufficient attitude to move forward. He moves towards the left of the field, sensing bubbles being shot past by the wind. He seems to be increasing in height, but suddenly massive sink again. He calls for a relaunch.

We rush to get positions, the towmen are already at full tension position & I drag the line back to Craig in the launch corridor. Bad mistake! It costs us a second or so to connect the line. Craig steps backwards to give me space to throw – I am off balance, my arm is not straight. But no time – Michelle signals the towmen to go. They hurl themselves forward & I barely feel the line stretching as I try to throw straight. I do not get my head out of the way – the left wing cracks the back of my head & Craig has to correct for a now down-wind launch. The model flies terribly, the launch was not good. A control arm has broken during the impact. The tape holding the flap servo cover splits has split apart & this is creating additional drag affect too. Craig heads for the tree line, but the lift is marginal & a 3 minute flight is all he can get. We hope for a reflight – but after a few close shaves, nothing emerges. Damb. Double damb!
Round / Group : 4 / 1
Pos;Country;Surname;Name;Flying Time;Landing;Score;Remark
1;SLO;Rizner ;Primoz ;14.55.60;100;998.2;
2;USA;Perkins ;Daryl ;14.54.90;100;997.5;
3;AUS;Hobby ;David ;14.55.10;100;997.7;
4;CZE;Vostrel ;Jaroslav ;14.52.90;100;995.5;
5;CZE;Duchan ;Jiri ;14.52.70;100;995.3;
6;NZE;Zaalberg ;Sven ;14.54.10;100;996.7;
7;GER;Feigl ;Benedikt ;14.57.10;100;999.7;
8;GER;Lammlein ;Tobias ;14.57.40;100;1000.0;
9;GER;Kolb ;Philip ;14.55.90;90;988.5;
10;TUR;Esibatır ;Murat ;14.08.80;100;951.3;
11;RSA;Goodrum ;Craig ;03.18.10;95;293.9;

We break for the juniors. Craig checks the models making small repairs. We walk out for the final rounds. The wind is swirling again. More than half of the launches have been downwind so far. That’s mostly 4 second, hand-towed launches in downwind conditions! I think back to people who claim that towmen don’t make a difference! I feel pity for them. How can I ever get them to understand that this makes F3J so incredible, that this is one of the finest expressions of team work in aeromodelling? I recall that the evening before our towmen were crowned the best in the world! Does that make a difference to the armchair observer? I feel bitter, that we do not have better recognition for this, and resolve to address this amongst the Manager’s, already having lobbied with a number of teams.

We focus on Craig. He is so bloody calm. I simply do not know how he does it. I am sure Michelle can sense his nervousness, but he does not show it to anyone. He is machine, dedicated to one task. He is a human, completely passionate about flying. He is a man, an awesome RC pilot. I am humbled, in fact, we are all humbled by his presence. Finally, he is Craig, our team mate & friend.

Round 5 launch is fast – approx 3 seconds before snapping off the line, albeit downwind. Craig locks into lift & soon the others drift over to his position. A number of pilots follow a small bubble downwind which eventually becomes a massive thermal. Those 3.6 metre span wings are soon only mm’s in size. The wind is so strong. The pilots have to land from the turn-around side. Craig asks me to signal when the model is vertically over the launch corridor. His landing is text-book perfect again! He moves up to 5th position. We stay on the field.

Landing from the launch side
Round / Group : 5 / 1
Pos;Country;Surname;Name;Flying Time;Landing;Score;Remark
1;TUR;Esibatır ;Murat ;14.55.40;95;993.6;
2;RSA;Goodrum ;Craig ;14.55.50;100;998.7;
3;SLO;Rizner ;Primoz ;14.56.60;90;989.8;
4;USA;Perkins ;Daryl ;14.55.20;100;998.4;
5;AUS;Hobby ;David ;14.56.20;95;994.4;
6;CZE;Vostrel ;Jaroslav ;14.53.90;100;997.1;
7;CZE;Duchan ;Jiri ;14.56.20;100;999.4;
8;NZE;Zaalberg ;Sven ;14.56.30;100;999.5;
9;GER;Feigl ;Benedikt ;14.55.70;100;998.9;
10;GER;Lammlein ;Tobias ;14.56.60;100;999.8;
11;GER;Kolb ;Philip ;14.56.80;100;1000.0;

Final round. We are exhausted. I see some of the strain on Craig’s face. We are aware that the people in SA have been following the event – and ever message, every email, every sms is shared amongst the team. The group in the tent support the pilots vociferously, even the line judges & time-keepers are egging the pilots on. The feeling on the field is amazing.

Final round. We are sad. This is the last round of the most amazing world championships ever. We recognise that soon we will be moving away from our friends, old & new, that we have shared the past 2 weeks with. Cultures, languages, etc., do not make a difference. We have all had one goal – to compete in the 6th F3J World Championships.
Final round. Each member of the team has achieved there goal with honour & distinction. We have represented our country with pride, and we know that the country is proud of the team.

Houston. We have lift off!
We pre-tension with 2 minutes to go. The breeze is fickle, but is drawing towards the turn-around again. It will be yet another down-wind launch. 30 second & Michelle signals the all ready. I drag the model back towards the launch box. 20 seconds & the breeze increases on my neck, down-wind launch assured. Craig tests the servos. Michelle is to his left. The announcer booms the countdown. The gladiators are ready for the final battle. Time oozes. I visualise the milliseconds between the countdown seconds, tensing for the buzzer. It sounds almost as the clock turned to zero. The model is hurled upwards, the towmen give everything they have & have given throughout the entire event. Craig guides this missile upwards and very, very quickly he snaps it upwards away from the line. A pop-off? Horrifyingly as his model shoots upwards, he clips the line of Primoz (again!) & the model spins around uncontrollably. He fights the spin, regaining lift over the wings in an inverted position & at approx 30 metres height he flips it over again, he levels out & shoots off towards the thermal he sensed during the launch. A reflight is pointless – he has a very fast launch, but no altitude! I see a line judge moving towards Philip’s team – is something wrong? Darryl has shot backwards after some lift. David has gone left, Sven moves forward & to the right. Difficult air, everyone has their own ideas. Craig hooks lift & soon a few of the other pilots join him again.

The flight is over quicker than the 15 minutes suggest. The landings are unbelievably aggressive – absolute last milli-second stuff. We learn that at least 2 pilots performed 2 second launches! Tobias nails the spot & gets the 1,000 for the round. Craig’s time is almost 2 seconds behind & he scores 998. The scores do not appear on the TV screens. The officials huddle & do not tell us anything. We move back to our tent to wait. Nails are bitten. Tension drains the last from us. We huddle together as a team. Craig hugs Matthew.

Round / Group : 6 / 1
Pos;Country;Surname;Name;Flying Time;Landing;Score;Remark
1;GER;Lammlein ;Tobias ;14.57.50;100;1000.0;
2;GER;Kolb ;Philip ;14.57.60;0;869.8;60 sec penalty
3;TUR;Esibatır ;Murat ;14.55.50;100;998.0;
4;RSA;Goodrum ;Craig ;14.55.50;100;998.0;
5;SLO;Rizner ;Primoz ;14.55.70;100;998.2;
6;USA;Perkins ;Daryl ;14.55.90;100;998.4;
7;AUS;Hobby ;David ;14.56.60;95;994.1;
8;CZE;Vostrel ;Jaroslav ;14.54.00;100;996.5;
9;CZE;Duchan ;Jiri ;14.56.40;100;998.9;
10;NZE;Zaalberg ;Sven ;14.56.90;95;994.4;
11;GER;Feigl ;Benedikt ;14.57.30;100;999.8;

Many minutes pass as the scores are checked & double checked. 2 reflight rounds make the going tough for the officials. The system is validated by hand. There can be no error! Our hosts are meticulous in their audit.
Finally the scores emerge – Benedikt is the new F3J World Champion. Craig is 5th overall, having flown against & placed higher than 4 previous world champions. Over 6 rounds, there is less than 6 points out of a 5,000 that seperate Craig from Benedikt, with some of the the toughest flying I have ever witnessed.
He is my champion. No, he is OUR champion.

Serdar Cümbüş, Craig Goodrum, Serdar Süalp
Final results
Rank;Name;Country;Total Score
1;Benedıkt Feıgl;GER;4997.30 (100.00 %)
2;Jırı Duchan;CZE;4997.30 (100.00 %)
3;Tobıas Lammleın;GER;4994.40 (99.94 %)
4;Sven Zaalberg;NZE;4993.50 (99.92 %)
5;Craıg Goodrum;RSA;4991.50 (99.88 %)
6;Daryl Perkıns;USA;4988.70 (99.83 %)
7;Prımoz Rızner;SLO;4988.60 (99.83 %)
8;Jaroslav Vostrel;CZE;4988.50 (99.82 %)
9;Davıd Hobby;AUS;4982.00 (99.69 %)
10;Phılıp Kolb;GER;4959.20 (99.24 %)
11;Murat Esıbatır;TUR;4941.20 (98.88 %)

2008 WC senior finalists

On behalf of the members of the teams, I would like to thank our generous sponsors, supporters & organisers for enabling Team South Africa to participate in the 2008 F3J World Championships ever hosted. We are proud to have represented South Africa in such a distinguished event.

Fly Safely

F3B Qualifier #2 results

The weather conditions were described as cold & windy - a front had moved in across South Africa the previous day, scratching away the warm conditions we had enjoyed for a few weeks. A small group of people met at the BERG field, shivering against the icy breeze as they contemplated the day ahead.

As per Evan: "Despite the inclement weather the day was actually very good for F3B. There was a nice wind all day straight down the winch lines, so launches were very good and lots of height available for fast speed runs. Some really scintillating speed times were set up with the fastest being a 15.62 second run by Craig. Not to be outdone, Michell clocked a 15.97 second run shortly afterwards. All in all there were 18 sub 20 runs on the day! 5 rounds were completed. The day started off quite late because we had to reset the speed sights into wind. This delayed the start by 1.5 hours so we only managed to finish off at around 10 past 6. The most surprising thing was that just about everyone managed to fly out the full 10 minutes and the last flight were completed way after the sun had set in fast fading light."

Pos, Name, Ave

1, Michelle Goodrum, 2858.89
2, Craig Goodrum, 2848.97
3, Paul Carnall, 2531.89
4, Dion Liebenberg, 2505.09
5, Herman Weber, 2340.31
6, Stephane du Ponsel, 2275.48
7, Alan Smith, 2183.53
8, Derek Marusich, 2036.00 (4 rounds flown)
9, Wolfgang Steffny, 1967.68
10, Rodney Goodrum, 1720.45 (2 rounds flown)

Well done Michelle! Look-out for Paul, he may be an expert thermal duration pilot but he is becoming an accomplished multi-disciplinary pilot too. Dion also recorded a 16.75 speed-run, who together with Craig & Michelle, are all posting sub-17 second runs! This places ETB & MMS as the clubs fielding the top F3B pilots at the moment.

I predict that the team qualifiers are going to be very, very close.

Fly Safely

Notice of PSS Weekend - 11 & 12 October at Volksrust

The organisers would like an indication of who will be attending the planned PSS weekend at Volksrust on 11 & 12 October 2008. Please send your entries via the MGASA forum.

As a SAMAA registered site, SAMAA & MGA safety rules will be applicable.

Fly safely

F3B - 2009 team qualifier #1 results

As published previously, the first F3B Team Qualification round was held during the 2008 National RC Gliding Championships hosted by ETB. The F3B results from this are:

1. Craig Goodrum; 11641
2. Michelle Goodrum; 10815
3. Dion Liebenberg; 10380
4. Paul Carnall; 10151
5. Peter Eagle; 10099
6. Herman Weber; 8908
7. Wolfgang Steffny; 7740
8. Conrad Klintworth; 7647
9. Derek Marusich; 7427
10. Piet Rheeders; 7206
11. Lionel Brink; 6938
12. Rudi King; 6442
13. Johan Bruwer; 5628
14. Ian Lessem; 5311
15. Simon Tladi; 4134
16. Rodney Goodrum; 3697
17. Ryan Nelson; 2639

The full list of results (by task) is available from the MGASA files section, 2008 Nats

Notice of #2 qualifier for 2009 F3B team te BERG, 17 August 2008

Hi everyone,

Please be advised that the #2 qualifier for the 2009 F3B team is scheduled for Sunday, 17 August 2008 as advised in the MGA BLOG & MGASA forum during February 2008 (http://mgasa.blogspot.com/2008/02/2009-f3b-team-selection-notice.html).

The entry fee is R50 (juniors & seniors) which includes lunch & a cooldrink catered for by Martie's fabulous traveling diner!

To permit a full day's F3B flying (i.e. multi-task) the first slot starts at 08h00 for 08h30. All entries will be pre-matrixed - which implies that you need to email your entry to Lionel Brink before Thursday, 14 August 2008. Late entries will cost an additional R50 per day extra! No entries after Friday will be accepted. Please provide me with the following info:

Name, helper team, model(s), primary freq, alternate freq., SAMAA number

Please be advised that as this is a team qualifier, only in-date SAMAA members who have registered or received an application for glider SOLO may participate.

Fly safely

2008 F3J World Championships - part 2

After being blown away upon our arrival by the field we soon moved into our section of the “TENT”. This three storey high structure of almost 200 metres length was just one of the many aspects demonstrating an extremely well organised World Championship. During this time we experienced our first “issue”; 6 pilots, 2 team managers & 3 helpers do not fit easily into a space designed for a team of 4 people. Some organisation amongst the group soon had all these issues sorted out & we set about getting “acclimatisation” practices in.

Scene inside THE TENT
We unfortunately “lost” two of the juniors models during this practice session – we believe that interference was the culprit for both of these incidents. The juniors however, displayed maturity beyond their years & soon had their second models flying. We had our first teams meeting around this time & it was clear that the crashes had upset the organisers to the extent that they were willing to take drastic steps to curtail any future occurrences – whereas they only intended to collect Tx antenna’s, all Tx’s were immediately placed under pound control. I think it is fair to point out that the collection of 170 antenna's was a reasonable measure - the individuals who switched on causing the interference were the exception & had nothing to do with the organisers.
At this time we also had our formal “managers” meeting & a number of points were raised. Interestingly the questions centred around interpretations of FAI/CIAM rules, but it was made very clear that the proposed 20cm landing would only come into affect in 2009 – however, we did get permission to have both a team manager & caller to support the pilots during the event – in the case of the pilot being the team manager a suitable proxy “manager” would be designated & accepted. The officials indicated that they would not tolerate any deviations from the rules & I am confident that this adherence was strictly observed for all calls, line judging & consideration of all formal objections. This may appear a little harsh, but in my opinion, they were always fair & unbiased in their application of the rules, making for a far more enjoyable championship by eliminating inane “tactical” measures which may have detracted from the superb event our hosts had clearly planned.

Team photo after WC opening ceremony
The pre-event was our first taste of competition, but the Spor Yapi Cup was only four rounds! I was up in the first round, first slot whereupon a disastrous launch & re-launch in the early morning soggy conditions saw a terrible result. Fortunately this appeared to spur the rest of team into top gear & the next few rounds saw everyone flying comfortably & settling down to the rhythm of competitive RC Glider flying. By setting up a list of caller, pilot & towmen for each round, we were able to physically prepare lines, models, & all the necessary equipment up to 4 rounds in advance.

I am especially pleased that we did not miss a single slot – this for all 9 pilots participating, calling, & towing! It is a tribute to everyone working together as a team that made this possible. It was also during this time that it became obvious that the tree line & tents provided subtle ridge lift – with some gifted pilots able to ride out the lift for some time & maxing flights in otherwise still air. The Spor Yapi Cup ended rather quickly in 2 days, with 170 pilots competing in four rounds. It is a tribute to the organisers that they were able to host this & discussing with a number of team managers & towmen, this is often their highlight of the world championship event. I am sure that this “helpers” cup tradition will be continued in future F3J events, where everyone has the opportunity of flying with the best in the world!

The prize giving for the Spor Yapi cup was held on Spor Yapi Cup Champions - prize givingthe afternoon of 29 June 2008. It was a somewhat interesting affair, as the outright winner was the German "junior", Christian Reinecke, yet the organisers elected to award junior & senior’s separately. I was impressed when the Senior winner (who was “unofficially” 2nd overall) Daryl Perkins, requested that this “junior” stand alongside him on the podium – I understand that the organisers eventually rescinded under pressure & named Christian the outright Cup winner later that day. Strange indeed. Of course this late afternoon silliness was soon forgotten upon the opening of the Jack Daniels’ road show truck, with rather pretty waitrons providing free vodka & Jack’s to all & sundry.

One of the sponsoring companies was Jack Daniels – clearly a rather civilised & strategic move on the part of the Turk’s to lure the visiting countries into a false sense of sobriety. We naturally did not yield to the temptations of liquor, and instead left the field to enjoy one of many traditional Turkish suppers at a local restaurant very close to our hotel. The interesting aspect of these suppers was the usual pre-meal snack – a pita-like bread that is blown up like huge balloon during baking. Due to the high work loads of the competition, we generally always ate everything placed in front of us by our hosts, and also because the food was typically of very high quality & reasonably priced. After the Cup our team settled down for the night, some dreaming of flying, some wondering if the Jack Daniel’s truck would return....

The day after the Spor Yapi Cup was a formal practice day & we soon had the bungies out to perfect landings & a couple of setup tweaks noted during the Cup. During this time those people that had lost aircraft also completed rebuilding or acquiring new models – noticeably all three of the juniors had lost one model before the start of the World Championship! Johan Bruwer & Chris Adrian also started on there mission to acquire as many models that they could carry. I was rather attracted to the new Explorer from Nan models, but the quoAll I want for Christmas: a Nan Explorer, pleaseted “around 1,000 Euro’s” was so far out of my already blown-to-pieces-budget that I could only afford to gaze at the airframe longingly. Approximating a Pike Perfect in wing loading, I reckon it is one of the sexiest models around - & note that we were literally swamped by Pike’s, Xplorer’s, Supra’s, Shadows, etc. One fortunate individual from Canada (I think) won an Explorer from the German team in a raffle (cost him 40 Euros). For the record, the Explorer achieved rather good results in both the Spor Yapi & World Championships. Expect to see more of this model in the future when production & world orders start in around 6 months time.

Stress management!?Competition day. We arrived at the field somewhat earlier than usual. Water canisters were all fully charged & batteries were all filled, or was that that the other way around? I did not imagine the sense of nervousness, as most people were far more quite than the previous days & went about their preparations in a far more subdued fashion. It was interesting to see everyone’s “defence” mechanisms. Michelle became extremely chatty with the other teams & looooong time friends, Craig became super efficient in organising the tent area, whilst Chris finished rebuilding Conrad’s #1 Pike fuselage & managed to connect to the internet (yes, wireless internet connectivity on the field – virtually broadband when compared to our local drivel). The juniors were also affected – Conrad was clearly worried about his model & was especially concerned about what his dad would say. Simon Tladi (or “lightning” as he became known) simply slowed things down, and began his focusing for the event ahead.

Lionel 'Tigger' Brink & Ryan 'Chuckie' Nelson share a momentOnly young Ryan was an enigma, not having flown as much with the rest of the pilots often, he stuck with his dad, Simon Nelson, during this time, hiding behind his dark glasses & scaring even a number of top pilots in the process – I understand from his mom that “Chuckie” was a changed lad after this event (I have no idea why?), & I am proud that gliding could have such an positive affect on anyone. The towmen were always exceptionally professional & busied themselves with checking equipment & getting everything (& occasionally everyone) ready. The managers were the only individuals left to worry – which I can report that I managed to achieve with some considerable success.

We began flying the WC rounds, Michelle was up first amongst the seniors & had to land short following a trip through a seemingly never-ending patch of sink – requiring a relaunch of her #2 Pike. I think this was a pop-off as she did not achieve a good score for her first round. Chris was up next & provided a solid score which pulled us back again. Craig was up third & was very close to a max with a good time, but if I cannot remember getting the 1 metre landing. We flew 2 rounds of seniors, then 2 rounds of juniors – the idea being to alternate this pattern through the remainder of the 12 rounds. The light breeze & warm conditions soon had the South African’s moving up the ranks, & Craig was soon placed very strongly in the top 10. Michelle was also fighting back with amazing determination & Chris too was consistently placing well in each round & they were both placed in the mid 20’s / 30's ranking.

During one of the rounds, the weather decided that we were all having too much fun & arrived with vengeance & some pay-back when a strong breeze & vicious sink set in. If I recall the juniors were flying during this time & the carnage was devastating. Out-landings became the order of the day with numerous destroyed models as a result. In fact it began to resemble a demolition derby very quickly as the carnage spread to more than 50% of the field per round. Similarly the seniors experienced a torrid time & Chris also succeeded in out-landing his model some considerable distance (approx 800 metres) from the field – this after spending what seemed like ages just trying to get back!

The next morning the organisers announced that the juniors would fly in the morning for 4 rounds & seniors to follow afterwards, obviously concerned about the high level of destruction – particularly amongst the junior pilots. The weather naturally played along in the morning, but just after lunchtime the wind returned & brought similarly challenging conditions – dissipating available thermals & removing the bubble generators we identified previously during the Spor Yapi Cup. However, in their defence, the carnage did seem to subside & the teams’ rhythm was not affected. Due to the back to back rounds, Johan Bruwer Senior & Chris Adrian were also called upon to tow for the Juniors, providing Johan Junior & myself with a bit of a breather on the Junior side. The seniors towmen saw Ian &Johan Jnr providing the majority of launches, with Johan Snr also assisting in quite a few too. On the flight line, the structure was Michelle called for Craig, Conrad calling for Chris, and Craig calling for Michelle, and myself as second caller/time-keeper, providing the basis for the senior’s “rotation”. Juniors had Ian as second caller/time-keeper/landing coach, with Carig calling for Simon & Ryan, Chris calling for Conrad.

I watched with delight as we all began to solidify positions towards the fly-offs, in particular I have never seen Craig so focussed & his awesome display of flying was equally recognised by other competitors & judges alike (specifically I received statements of support from both Sedar (our CD) & Sydney (Uncle Sydney), with lots of encouragement from various other teams including USA & Australia). Craig needed a position in the top 11 to make the flyoffs, towards the final day of the preliminary rounds it was becoming very, very tense. During this time I was launching for him & was worried that I was costing him an extra second on launch due to waiting for the buzzer – however his words of “wait for the buzzer, as a relaunch is more costly” served as a good guidance to ensure that each launch was “legal”. There were claims made that the line judges did not pick up all the early launches or late landings, but those that I saw were swiftly penalised & the continuous line checking etc., created a presence on the field that prevented any opportunities for anyone taking a chance.

Chris & Michelle had solidified their positions in the middle 20's (out of 74 pilots) following some absolutely stunning flying, but the initial round setback & Chris’s out-landing were not throwaway’s they wanted. The tension became incredible during this time, but the teams (juniors & seniors) took this head on & everyone performed with the utmost professionalism & dedication. I sensed that something special was growing as more & more we began focusing on the fly-offs. By round 9, both Craig & Conrad were amongst the top contenders. Then disaster struck. Conrad was flying in very tough afternoon conditions & elected to stay with the group that meandered through horrid sink. Only one pilot gambled & broke away from the group, hooking the only non-sink in a 50 mile radius and maxed the slot, whilst the rest struggled to a devastating 7 minutes. The result was harsh – with only 3 rounds to go, Conrad, who already had a throwaway due to a relaunch (I think), dropped from 3rd to 17th – just ahead of Simon in 18th. The look on the his face was indescribable as he realised the virtually impossible task of achieving the junior fly-offs. But, what was amazing is that he scored 1,000 during his next slot - just to show everyone what an awesome competitor he is. This to me was one of the defining moments of the competition – as I saw this young man assume full responsibility & came back from intense disappointment. If that is not “big match temperament” then nothing is, & I am incredibly proud of his maturity & actions.

Craig also experienced some challenges towards the end of the prelims & excruciatingly dropped from 7th overall to 10th. However, is a show of sheer determination & excellently timed landings he maintained his position for the last 3 rounds. I realise that the discussion forum back home was going wild – but the pressure of competing was such that few of us had time to respond to emails. I believe that everyone was fully focused on the event, but also know that each & every sms, email or voice message were shared amongst the team as the unbelievable support from SA just mounted & mounted. In fact, we were all rather humbled by this level of support & would like to thank everyone for showing such interest.

Enough blabbering for now, the final report will cover the fly-offs. If you ever thought the prelims could be tense, then you have never experienced a fly-off! It is simply what makes F3J so utterly amazing & challenging. until next time ....

Fly safely