In the end nature would devise the outcome and the committee organised all that could be organised, packed all that could be packed, generated a mountain of score sheets to be utilised by each of the 4 judges. Based on last years event we hoped nature would lend us at least sufficient time to complete two rounds, but possibly three rounds, across the 16 competitors who had entered the competition.
On Friday the 29th a good few of the competitors escaped from their respective businesses, had a Traditional gut filling breakfast at Dixies, and gathered at Red Hill for a practice session in what were pretty strong conditions for that slope. Dave Greer flew in from Durban followed by Russell Conradt and Michel Leusch later in the day, and the stage was set for some fun in the sun. After about 2 hours at Red Hill and one fairly wrecked competition plane later, the victim of some insane rotor in the landing area, the Red Hill slope eventually blew out at about 50 odd kilometers an hour, and the crew moved off to Smitswinkel Bay for the rest of the day, and even more practice.
Smitswinkel Bay is unique in being positioned right at the end of the Peninsula, a stones through from Cape Point, and in the lee of the mountainous point itself. This allows for the prevailing South Easter to sheer by and allows for great slope soaring when all other spots are being reduced to a twig by the incessant howl of the South Easter. At the end of the day the now legendary meet and greet took place at Dixies, and in a somewhat more restrained manner than last year due to lessons learnt on the nature of hangovers and competition.
ROUND 1: Saturday 30th January 2010
Saturday dawned windy as predicted and a quick flight at Red Hill confirmed that the ever strengthening South Easter was once again going to wreak havoc in the landing area, and thoughts of damaging or destroying half the fleet of gliders in the first round led to the decision to move the competition to Smitswinkel Bay. On Arrival all the necessary elements of the competition site were rolled out, the ADT caravan which served as the food stall for the weekend was powered up to serve awesome meals to starving competitors, under the guidance of Annelise van Niekerk, while her husband Tinus van Niekerk, TOSS Vice Chairman flew his rounds through the day.
Great teamwork that, and another pointer to the RC sport of slope soaring being a family affair. The four judges for the competition, who had selflessly offered their time for the two days of the competition, Head Judge Andrew Anderson, Johnny Calefato, Kurt Mackrill and his father Claude Mackrill, gathered and issued a pilots briefing on what they wanted to see on the day. Which areas worked as the centre lines and outside lines of the flying box, how to present the manoeuvres and how to call your manoeuvres throughout your scheduled routine. With Jeff Steffen TOSS Chairman and contest director finalising the briefing, the competition kicked off in glassy smooth lift. With Damian Hinrichsen and Kevin Farr the first to step up to the line and take on the challenge.
The whole event has been refined to a selection of 4 mandatory manoeuvres and then the selection of six optional manoeuvres as chosen by each pilot based on his ability and willingness to risk the K-Factored manoeuvres in what could be changing conditions. This led to some interesting choices of manoeuvres based on trying to find a balance between risk and reward, while trying to ensure a high scoring routine and not being left in the dust of those who chose high K-Factors and completed those well.
The scheduled slots of pilots was flown in tandem to ensure speed and efficiency and the highlight of the day was undoubtedly the round flown by Steve Meusel, rated later in the day as one of the best rounds flown in any year of the competition so far. Other highlights included a really good round flown by Michel Leusch and an equally impressive round from last years winner Marc Wolfe. As the first rounds completed and a 15 minute break was taken for the awesome foods on offer, the wind began an unfortunate shift towards the south, the demon wind in our part of the world that renders virtually every slope unflyable, and the lift became unpredictable. After attempting to fly the first 2 scheduled slots of the second round, the lift went to the dogs and gliders fell out of the sky with indecent regularity.
This led to one of the longest fetches in history, as Marc Beckenstrater’s glider lost all lift and disappeared down the slope. After about an hour of searching, Mac found his glider 50 meters from the water, a good 100 meters vertically down the cliff, and if you look in the photos you will see just how far away that is. The poor lad was about as wrecked as his glider by the time he made it back to the top. Another notable casualty was Pieter Grove who in a brilliant attempt at keeping view of a sinking glider, rushed to jump onto one of the rocks on the side of the road, slipped and did a very neat head over heals tumble into the bush, emerging later with a smile on his dial, but after finally collecting his undamaged glider from the depths of the slope. To add insult to injury the judges were unwilling to add bonus points for the notable attempt, or even the form he managed to hold during the entire exercise.
With these two particular incidents showing the vagaries of the declining lift, the second round by agreement with the judges was cancelled and called off for the day. That night an awesome dinner was had by one and all at the Dixies watering hole and due diligence was taken to keep ones head clear for the Sunday rounds.
ROUND 2: Sunday 31st January 2010
Waking to a beautiful Cape morning the glee full pilots took to the slope in a Le man’s style race and found a light but super clean South Wester blowing up the Kommetjie cliff face. With haste the pilots were gathered, the judges seated, and the round kicked off as soon as possible to attempt to ensure a speedy turn around for the completion of at least two rounds during the day. Pilots are permitted to change their sequence to suit the conditions between rounds to allow for adaptation of you flight schedule to match the conditions at the time. With the light to medium conditions on hand the lighter, smaller gliders proved to be invaluable, and with a lot of sharing of specific planes such as the Aldij and the Mini Dragon, pilots were able to complete their schedules with a fair amount of speed and efficiency. As the rounds rolled off, the heat in the bowl began to once more kill the lift, and the later participants had to really work to gain height for the chosen manoeuvres. In the end Steve Meusel grabbed the moment and flew another great round, Dave Greer flew a beauty and Malcolm Riley flew his Aldij as if on rails, and produced possibly the best round of the day. With the second round complete, lunch was ordered for the hard working judges, and the ever waning lift taken into account.
After waiting it out for an hour or so, taking in the awesome Cape scenery, and watching the wind switch to the West, the Contest Director finally called off the third round and called the competition complete.
All the contestants, judges and supporters then headed for the Kommetjie watering hole called Fishermans. The prize giving took place and Steve Meusel duly took the honours with first position, keeping the floating trophy in the Cape, against seriously tough competition. Michel Leusch flew his way into second, Marc Wolfe into third and Damian Hinrichsen into fourth spot. The Floating trophy was handed to Steve, the 2nd, and 3rd place trophies to the respective winners and each and every participant congratulated on a contest well flown.
The list of sponsors and prizes were phenomenal, as long as your arm, with each participant taking away something of value right though to the last position. For this we can only say a huge thank you for all the generous support and look forward to seeing the same great crowd of delightful judges, participants and sponsors for next years event.
As much as you plan, scheme, and study the weather patterns, you can only so often expect an event to be a success two years in a row!, Specifically when bound by nature, but that’s what once more was handed to the grateful pilots and participants in the Two Oceans Slope Soarers Aerobatics Event 2010.
Roll on 2011!
Winners (one and all):
1. Steve Meusel 100.000%
2. Michel Leusch 95.465%
3. Marc Wolfe 93.700%
4. Damian Hinrichsen 86.280%
5. Dave Greer 75.710%
6. Kevin Farr 72.875%
7. Malcolm Riley 72.195%
8. Russell Conradt 68.840%
9. Theunis van Niekerk 62.905%
10. Gus Thomas 60.725%
11. Pieter Grove 56.180%
12. Bobby Purnell 55.845%
13 Jeff Steffen 12.980%
14. Marc Beckenstrater 11.425%
15. Tim Watkins-Baker 4.725%
And will grateful thanks to all our sponsors AMT Composites, ADT for the Caravan, Micton Hobbies, Clowns Hobbies, Hobby Warehouse, Fragram Tools, Russel Conradt, and all the Two Oceans Slope Soarers members who dipped into their own pockets to add more and more prizes, give aways and welcoming gifts for the event.
We cherish you one and all.