2008 RC Gliding National Championship

The South African 2008 National RC Gliding Championships was hosted just outside Benoni, in fine form by the Eastern Thermal Busters (ETB) club. Although this is an F3B year (annually the Championship alternates between F3J & F3B focus to match the FAI calendar), ETB elected to provide thermal pilots with a full “Open” slot to encourage participation. This appears to have worked very well, as a total of 6 disciplines were represented, seeing a total of 31 pilots competing in 91 rounds, over the 4 days. I also suspect that keeping the entry fee to R160 (just over USD20) further encouraged pilots to participate. A great location, a strongly competitive field of pilots, & excellent organisation, all created the foundation for exciting Championship.

Then the weather decided to show its face. Although we experienced relatively good thermal weather (although somewhat rainy) for the year, the first day at the Nationals was very windy & thermals were small and fast moving. Unfortunately a cold front moved in overnight bringing with it windy, wet & icy cold conditions. Suddenly the 2008 Championship became a real challenge – the gap between the good & not so good pilots became much more pronounced as big launches, energy management, well setup & familiar models, with precision landings all became the order of the day for those wishing to score well. The weather also cut the Championship a little short & the envisaged 6 rounds could never be flown – but the leading pilots were truly those that had performed the best during the initial 4 – 5 rounds across each discipline (F3B, thermal duration, RES100 duration, 2M duration, F5J & F3K)

F5J – Electric thermal duration

Whilst F5J has seemingly not enjoyed much attention of late within the regular competitive circles, it apparently experienced somewhat of resurgence at the Nationals with 11 pilots competing in this class. Models ranged from Malcolm winning OD full-house balsa model, an e-Tsotsi, through multiple ARF’s to Dion’s electrified Eish!. Models were predominantly brushless powered with LiPo cells – although there the exceptions such as Gert’s brushed model. The conditions were generally as challenging for F5J as it was for the winch-launched classes, and often even the best thermal pilots had to restart motors during the round thus loosing their landing points during many of the rounds, but unable to exceed the relatively low cloud ceiling of the 3rd and 4th days. Problems with his electric-Eish! prevented Dion flying in the 4th round (rain stopped play thereafter) otherwise, I am sure that the results would have been significantly different.

1 Malcolm Siebert 3,936
2 Piet Rheeders 3,834
3 Paul Carnall 3,800
4 Gert Nieuwoudt 3,750
5 Izak Theron 3,632
6 Rudi King 3,487
7 Derek Marusich 3,438
8 Lionel Brink 3,343
9 Dion Liebenberg 2,984
10 Deon Scholtz 2,384
11 Simon Tladi 1,514

Well done to Malcolm for winning with his OD 2.5 metre model ahead of tough competition from Piet (with his borrowed e-Tsotsi). The gutsiest performance of this discipline must have been Simon Tladi competing with his Elapor™ EasyGlider – well done!

F3K - Hand Launch Gliders

Sping, fling & release! The hand launch glider rounds were charecterised by Discus Launched Gliders (DLG), with only Deon flying a standard Fling. Obsessions (a locally manufactured DLG) were the most common, with the Taboo'ish another local manufacture also in evidence. The flights were all flown in a 100 x 50 metre box - with the strong wind often resulting in outlandings, when the more daring pilots tried to reach ridge lift created by trees located outside of the field. Even with the low cloud, the pilots were able to complete all their rounds.

1 Alan Smith 9,203
2 Stephane Duponsel 8,781
3 Conrad Klintworth 8,073
4 Craig Goodrum 7,853
5 Mark Stockton 7,822
6 Lionel Smith 6,604
7 Peter Eagle 5,888
8 Anton Coetzee 4,441
9 Rudi King 2,024
10 Deon Scholtz 689

In one of the later rounds, in truely appaling conditions, Alan picked up a whiff of lift & followed this downwind - without anyone noticing, allowing him to max his round & create a devistating lead. Stephane consistently performed well, workign every available bit of air & following the lift when he could. Conrad was probably the most aggressive - flying far out to find lift & more often trhan not being rewarded with some ridge or turbulance created on the outskirts of the field.

2M – Thermal duration

The 2M class saw 12 pilots hotly competing in a matrix format of 3 slots, flying a 6 minute duration task with scored landing (FAI circle). The first round saw most pilots performing well even in the strong wind, but the second round saw 2 slots flown very late in the evening & most of these smaller models simply struggled to maintain form in the dusk. Little did the delayed slot 3 realise how poor the conditions would be on the second day & their results (although normalised) showed an even greater decrease in performance. Models ranged from the winning Tsotsi of Rudi King, through a 2M Mini Graphite (Conrad Klintworth), Derek’s Sagitta 600, with a couple of ARF Gentle Ladies thrown in for good measure.

For a bit of comic relief during the event, Evan Shaw, the Tsotsi designer issued a product recall due to a fatal flaw that he had discovered – everyone was beating him with his own model!

1 Rudi King 5,000
2 Conrad Klintworth 4,675
3 Derek Marusich 4,427
4 Piet Rheeders 4,398
5 Evan Shaw 4,362
6 Lionel Brink 4,114
7 Alan Smith 3,846
8 Deon Scholtz 3,801
9 Lionel Smith 3,597
10 Johan Bruwer 3,321
11 Izak Theron 3,279
12 Gert Nieuwoudt 2,969

Rudi showed us that he remains the 2M king & cleaned up each round with his class leading Tsotsi. Conrad flew a mini-graphite & Derek flew his marvellous Sagitta 600 to good effect.

RES100 – Thermal duration

Originally intended as the “old timers” model class for classic Rudder-Elevator-Spoiler type models, the 8 pilots competing were using rather high-tech models – some even using their 2M class models to compete in this 8 minute duration task with a scored FAI type landing. Results swung dramatically depending on the weather conditions during these slots, just as they had for the smaller 2M class.

1 Piet Rheeders 4,569
2 Gert Nieuwoudt 4,121
3 Lionel Brink 3,643
4 Rudi King 3,581
5 Johan Bruwer 3,531
6 Volney Klintworth 3,461
7 Evan Shaw 3,180
8 Rudolf Engelmann 1,379

Piet “Wit Willem” Rheeders having won the inaugural RES100 postal league during 2007 showed everyone his continuing good form, with Gert flying into second using his Bubble Dancer in trying conditions. Lionel flew a standard 2m Tsotsi after its maiden in round 1.

Open – Thermal Duration

Biiiiiiig(!) launches, energy management & spot landings were the order of the day for these FAI “open” models. F3J/TD type models ranged from the commercial Mibo Experience-Pro & Shadow, Pike Perfects, to the local Eish! & OD Emoyeni. Winch launched from a 200m turnaround the pilots were required to complete a 10 minute duration task with a scored FAI type landing.

1 Craig Goodrum 4,649
2 Paul Carnall 4,604
3 Dion Liebenberg 4,569
4 Izak Theron 4,270
5 Herman Weber 4,152
6 Conrad Klintworth 4,093
7 Michelle Goodrum 3,797
8 Wolfgang Steffny 3,708
9 Ryan Nelson 3,694
10 Evan Shaw 3,677
11 Anton Coetzee 3,643
12 Piet Rheeders 3,613
13 Lionel Brink 3,556
14 Rudi King 3,368
15 Johan Bruwer 3,331

16 Gert Nieuwoudt 3,247
17 Jason Weber 3,212
18 Stephen Liebenberg 3,058
19 Volney Klintworth 2,965
20 Simon Tladi 2,891
21 Ian Lessem 2,888
22 Rodney Goodrum 1,523
23 Derek Marusich 1,244

The battle between Craig & Paul was nail-biting all the way through, but Dion was also always very close. Craig flew his F3B Ceres to good effect & big launches, whilst Paul stuck to his tried & tested Xpro- v-tail with smooth energy management. We notice that out of the top 5 rankings, 4 were all from the host club – ETB, so no guessing where their focus lies for the remainder of the season. First Junior was Conrad showing the seniors how to fly, with Ryan Nelson not too far behind in his first up country Nationals.

F3B – "Multi-task"

As F3B was the “FAI” focus for the Nationals, this was the determining event. Comments made were that the “conditions resembled the Swiss WC ‘cept the Nationals organisation was smoother”. CD for this event was Evan Shaw who kept the pilots on a strict time table & drove the slots through with an iron fist. Models were a combination of F3B specialists (Ceres, Crossfire, Estrella, X21, Trinity F3B) as well as some F3J models used by pilots keen to try F3B for the first time (Eish!, & Xpro). The conditions really challenged even the best pilots, with consistency across all three tasks obviously required for a good place.

1 Craig Goodrum 11,641
2 Michelle Goodrum 10,815
3 Dion Liebenberg 10,380
4 Paul Carnall 10,151
5 Peter Eagle 10,099
6 Herman Weber 8,908
7 Wolfgang Steffny 7,740
8 Conrad Klintworth 7,647
9 Derek Marusich 7,427
10 Piet Rheeders 7,206
11 Lionel Brink 6,938
12 Rudi King 6,442
13 Johan Bruwer 5,628
14 Ian Lessem 5,311
15 Simon Tladi 4,134
16 Rodney Goodrum 3,697
17 Ryan Nelson 2,639

The action was fast & furious, but Craig Goodrum dominated the duration task with his Ceres & this created his biggest advantage over his 2nd place rankings in speed & distance. Michelle showed everyone why she is the distance queen/king with smooth turns & good reading of difficult air. Mention has to be made of Dion, who achieved the best speed run (15.9 seconds) of the event. Immediately after the massive launch the entire field was still humming, but after the first few seconds and the first Base-B turn everyone realised that his was a blisteringly fast run. Ever the calm CD, even Evan shouted out the time without any prompting such was the level of excitement during Dion's speed run. Special notice also of Paul who flew his F3J Xpro to good effect into 4th!

Victor ludorum

At every Nationals, there is a small group of "crazies" – the individuals who believe that participation is as important, if not more so, than winning. They attempt to fly in every discipline, and every task, using as many models as possible. Not only is this challenging to the individual pilots, but their support teams are often equally exhausted too. To ensure that each discipline is evenly weighted, these scores are normalised (the winner achieving 1,000 points). The scores reflected below reflecting this normalised sum of all events for all participants who are automatically entered into the Victor Ludorum "event". Obviously the more events participated in, the greater the potential overall score.

1 Piet Rheeders 4,249
2 Rudi King 4,167
3 Lionel Brink 3,830

4 Conrad Klintworth 3,350
5 Gert Nieuwoudt 3,147
6 Craig Goodrum 2,853
7 Paul Carnall 2,828
8 Derek Marusich 2,664
9 Johan Bruwer 2,637
10 Dion Liebenberg 2,633
11 Izak Theron 2,497
12 Evan Shaw 2,359
13 Alan Smith 1,769
14 Michelle Goodrum 1,746
15 Herman Weber 1,658
16 Peter Eagle 1,507
17 Wolfgang Steffny 1,463
18 Deon Scholtz 1,441
19 Lionel Smith 1,437
20 Volney Klintworth 1,395
21 Simon Tladi 1,361
22 Anton Coetzee 1,266
23 Ian Lessem 1,077
24 Ryan Nelson 1,021
25 Malcolm Siebert 1,000
26 Stephane Duponsel 954
27 Mark Stockton 850
28 Jason Weber 691
29 Stephen Liebenberg 658
30 Rodney Goodrum 645
31 Rudolf Engelmann 302

Scoring well in 2M, RES100, and F5J, Piet was always going to be the person to beat. Rudi was very close, competing in F3K – but his DLG was simply not setup sufficiently to provide the edge.

This was possibly one of the best organised events in recent times, with weather that made participating very challenging and ensuring that only the best pilots were the ultimate winners. To everyone who organised, fed & watered the masses, participated &/or won, helped, CD’d, timed/called for pilots, fetched/repaired winches, manned base-b, etc., thank you & well done.