2008 HTL #5 - Henley report

Leaving home at 06h00 in the morning, the sun had not even started to rise above the horizon. My dogs looked up at me as if I was completely nuts, then turned around & simply went back to sleep! A 200km round trip lay ahead, a completely unknown field - but after the last great HTL at BERG, I was soooo keen...

Sunday, 2 August 2008 & the HTL competition was on. Almost 3 months previously we had attended the Henley Aeromodellers Open day, where the second World Air Games (WAG) qualification round was succesfully flown for Discus Launch Gliders (DLG). During this impressive Open Day, we chatted to representatives of the local club committee who expressed an interest in us demonstrating the "thermal duration" gliding event too. Since we need a venue for the HTL #5, the scene was set & Derek Marusich kindly assisted by liaising with the committee whilst I was away in Turkey. Not only did we get to use the exclusive use of the field for the morning, but I counted more than 50 people from the Henley club came to look at the gliders. I had to smile at one of the early morning questions from one of the Henley members - "I thought that there was going to be a glider competition?" - but such is the relaxed atmosphere of HTL, with everyone chipping in to help one another, and everything running relatively smoothly with extremely little effort, that anyone could get confused about this fiercely competitive event with some of the top RC Glider pilots in SA participating.

After a rebuild required after a "hot" landing at the World Championships in Turkey, my X-Pro glider needed a maiden - some of the mechanical settings had been changed, but the first throw was "straight off the board" stuff, & it remained as such for the rest of the day (bliss!). The early morning breeze was North-Easterly which suited the layout rather well - plenty of space for a long flight line & lots of landing area. We only needed to walk about 50 metres or so into the rougher scrub for the last portion of the turnarounds, but thios was not serious at all. Unfortunately the dry African winter had been rather harsh in Henley & the ground was incredibly hard. All the stakes also had to be tilted back by 45 degrees for safety, as no moisture was present to provide even moderate retaining friction. Coolish in the morning, we were soon all running around & jerseys & jackets were promptly removed as the sun rose up high & provided yet another glorious African day, perfect for thermal soaring. This also provided a subtle reminder for the use of sunscreen for the season ahead!

The pilots briefing started around 09h15 - and the first slot began at approx 09h30. The first round yielded a very light breeze with incredibly buoyant air - virtually everyone maxing the 10 minute duration task in the available 12 minutes working time. Landings were interesting as the usual spear approach would not work against the African "granite" hard surface & the models simply slid along for many metres otherwise. The first slot of round 2 was the essentially same conditions, but the second slot was a little more challenging when the buoyant air was suddenly displaced by a vast area of sink & tiny thermal bubbles. Flight times dropped suddenly to 5 minutes for the group, except Paul of course, flying with his own ultra-smooth style, who managed to conserve energy & by maxing the slot, hammered the remaining pilots. This pattern remained for the rest of the day - one or two slots of buoyant air, replaced by a slot or two of sink - both usually across a vast area. The breeze also picked up smartly & a few whicked dust devils (whirlwinds) had people scurrying to hold onto models & gazebo's. As far as I know, Gert's Supra was the only injury due to this, when a particularly nasty whirlwind shot through far right of the flight line & flipped his model around onto the waiting Tx antenna - which promptly cut a small groove into the left flap's trailing edge. No further damage & all the pilots ran to launch & catch the obvious thermals around.

The flight corridor was marked as a safety area - models touching any grounded object within this area would be penalised by 200 points, touching any person would yield a 1,000 point penalty - all penalties being non-throwaway, but fortunately no incidents were noted. This provided the local club members the opportunity to walk amongst the pilots, who in turn were asked numerous questions about gliding, models, wingspan, setup, radio installations, etc. Their interest was really great & I am confident that we will see some gliders emerging from Henley shortly.

We interrupted the event for a very civilised lunch at 12h30, where Martie provided her usual superb catering for the competition & a number of club members too. Lunch out of the way & we quickly resumed the final 3 rounds before 15h00 saw the final slot flown to perfection. During round 3, Rodney (who managed to avoid that lone tree all day!) ironically saw his Shadow's fin & rudder neatly sliced off above the stabiliser when his model & Dion's tried to occupy the same bit of air space simultaneously. Dion landed without incident, but sadly Rodney was forced to land out & his flying was over for the last 2 rounds. Trevor Austin performed some interesting aerobatics on his first launch Round 1: Slot 1 - which saw his model smacking the hard earth & the nose promptly breaking off a few metres in front of the winch. His backup model was broken shortly afterwards with a rather hard landing, but after a slot was back in the air thanks to the wonders of CA. Not to be outdone, Wolfgang also smote the earth with a resounding thwak - which we measured as exceeding 3.2 on a pre-calibrated Richter scale device. Peter Moore, above all else, deserves a special mention too - he managed to snap loop his model on landing & "gently" touched down on the nose & wing tips for a near perfect 3 pointer. The resident aerobatics judges all applauded him enthusiastically for his artistic interpretation of landing.

The final positions are based on the scoresheets returned to me & scored using F3JScore:

1 Carnall; Paul ETB 5000 (100.0 %) R6:1000.00 R2:1000.00 R3:1000.00 R1:1000.00 R5:1000.00 (R4:997.70) (X-Pro/Shadow/Trinity X)
2 Goodrum; Craig MMS 4992.97262 (99.9 %) R2:1000.00 R4:1000.00 R3:999.42 R1:997.85 R5:995.70 (R6:994.80) (Shadow/X-Pro)
3 Marusich; Derek BER 4927.65696 (98.6 %) R5:993.52 R3:991.79 R4:991.36 R2:981.47 R6:969.51 (R1:917.55) (Sagitta)
4 Bruwer; Johan SGC 4866.72743 (97.3 %) R1:998.13 R2:988.22 R4:967.70 R5:966.82 R3:945.87 (R6:604.44) (Pike Perfect)
5 Klintworth; Conrad SGC 4855.76466 (97.1 %) R1:1000.00 R2:1000.00 R4:1000.00 R5:999.28 R6:856.48 (R3:471.05) (Pike Perfect)
6 Weber; Jason ETB 4841.61003 (96.8 %) R2:997.12 R1:978.98 R4:977.12 R3:976.68 R6:911.72 (R5:676.64) (Not sure?)
7 Rheeders; Piet BER 4792.90223 (95.9 %) R4:991.08 R1:963.58 R2:957.69 R3:944.72 R5:935.84 (R6:402.81) (Stretched Tsotsi)
8 Liebenberg; Dion ETB 4683.42678 (93.7 %) R6:1000.00 R4:989.78 R1:986.18 R2:907.05 R5:800.41 (R3:587.62) (not sure, but it was stronger than Rodney's Shadow)
9 Brink; Lionel MMS 4613.11089 (92.3 %) R3:1000.00 R1:1000.00 R4:1000.00 R5:979.26 R2:633.85 (R6:499.56) (X-Pro)
10 Niewoudt; Gert TRM 4606.96959 (92.1 %) R5:1000.00 R1:991.65 R6:978.12 R4:952.91 R3:684.29 (R2:646.70) (Supra)
11 King; Rudi SGC 4532.8627 (90.7 %) R6:1000.00 R5:1000.00 R4:962.17 R2:826.56 R3:744.13 (R1:0.00) (Eish!?)
12 Steffny; Wolfgang MMS 4475.61768 (89.5 %) R1:948.88 R6:909.75 R4:894.71 R5:870.24 R2:852.04 (R3:264.94) (one very strong X-21)
13 Weber; Herman ETB 4364.79302 (87.3 %) R1:994.82 R4:986.65 R3:817.86 R6:811.15 R2:754.32 (R5:693.75) (Trinity)
14 Austin; Trevor MMS 4328.69888 (86.6 %) R3:1000.00 R4:977.98 R5:840.99 R1:778.51 R2:731.22 (R6:570.79) (not sure/Concord)
15 Moore; Peter ETB 4203.78979 (84.1 %) R2:978.88 R6:941.85 R1:852.20 R4:829.69 R3:601.18 (R5:543.04) (X-Pro - aerobatic version)
16 Liebenberg; Stephen ETB 3698.68154 (74.0 %) R3:997.70 R1:933.35 R6:724.98 R2:586.94 R5:455.71 (R4:454.11) (not sure)
17 Goodrum; Rodney MMS 3024.63461 (60.5 %) R4:954.20 R1:860.93 R3:646.32 R2:563.19 R6:0.00 (R5:0.00) (Shadow - half X-tail version)

It is important to note that Derek was flying his Sagitta again - and simply hammered the rest of us flying molded models! The top juniors did well too - with 5th & 6th places.Stephen was flying what looked like a wood vernered glider, but was doing exzceptionally well with this too in a rather close competition. Congratulations to Trevor for competing after a such a loooong time off - welcome back.

Now, simply because I write this report, I also decided to show the top 10 flights too (look, it's not everyday that you manage to score a hole-in-one against the greats!):

1 Brink; Lionel 697.8 9:59.8 (0-1) R:3 / S:1
2 Goodrum; Craig 696.5 9:59.5 (0-1) R:4 / S:1
3 Klintworth; Conrad 696.2 9:57.2 (0-1) R:1 / S:1
4 Goodrum; Craig 696.1 9:58.1 (0-1) R:2 / S:1
5 Brink; Lionel 695.2 9:57.2 (0-1) R:4 / S:2
6 Carnall; Paul 694.9 9:59.9 (1-2) R:4 / S:1
7 Klintworth; Conrad 694.8 9:59.8 (1-2) R:2 / S:3
8 1 Klintworth; Conrad 694.8 9:59.8 (1-2) R:4 / S:3
9 Goodrum; Craig 694.7 9:58.7 (0-1) R:1 / S:1
10 Liebenberg; Dion 694.7 9:59.7 (1-2) R:6 / S:3

It was a stunning day, with reasonably challenging conditions. The pilots all had fun & we managed to show off top class RC gliding to a large group of people. It may have been a long trip, but it definitely was worth it.

Finally, a huge word of thanks to our hosts, the Henley Aeromodellers Club. We were all impressed with your field & we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate RC Gliding to your members. The enthuisiasm shown by the club's members was far more than we expected, but serves as an excellent reminder of how much fun RC gliding can be.

For a great report of the HTL #5 by Derek, please refer to the BERG Blog. Note that his report at least contains some photographs & particularly Peter Moore's landing sequence - I did not have time to take pictures what with us being a team of only 2 & being CD :-)

Fly safely