I clocked out after my night shift, jumped in my Van and tootled off to the Long Mynd in Shropshire to meet ten other blokes brave enough to have decided to try to complete a competition in what promised to be very light conditions. It was really quite the ‘Who’s Who’ of British F3F with a star studded, although compact, field.
After arriving a little late (I’d have had to drive like a hooligan to get there for the 9am meet) we got set up on a beautiful slope at the end of a little valley that funnels the available breeze.
The forecast told us to expect a very light breeze to start with conditions building as the day drew out. The forecast was correct on one count. It was light.
Our CD for the event was Mike Evans and he suggested that we complete a round Zero to let the conditions build and stabilise a bit before we got started on the official comp. Based on the forecast it was a good call and we all agreed.
The random order generator took 3 attempts to give an appropriate flying order and settled on having me to go first so I donned the number 1 bib and chucked my empty Willow2 into the beautiful scenery. I tried a pump and it was clear that was a waste of stick time so I scampered along the slope trying to build energy and find some buoyant air before the compulsory start of my timed run.
I felt relatively comfortable on that course and found the bases easily and was able to concentrate on keeping as much energy through the turns as possible and posted a time of 61 or 62 seconds.. Not blistering by any stretch but I was quite pleased with how I flew. Aggressive, but not stupid (in MY eyes!)
You can imagine my surprise when at the end of the round, an entire field of world-class pilots with some of the best gliders available were sitting below me on the leaderboard! It was pretty close actually with most times in the 60’s and a couple in the 70’s. I think there was an almost unanimous sigh of relief that there was a round zero.
SO….on with the comp, proper like.
I flew almost exactly the same flight for the first round with exception of spending longer trying to gain energy and height without a pump and I also flew just a little too close to the bracken on one corner resulting in a split second of no control while the wingtip threaded its way through the ferns. My heart nearly jumped out my mouth as one of my top priorities for this comp was to leave with models intact as I’m driving to Rugen (Germany) on Wednesday! I carded another very low 60’s run and I was matched by Mark Redsell, Mike Evans and Simon Thornton. Not sure who won that round but it was close and it wasn’t me.
Round 2 was my slowest flight with a 62ish second run. I don’t think I had quite the same air as the previous run. But I was still pleased with the run. I wish I could remember who won this round, but I can’t. I have a feeling it was Mike Evans with his shiny new Shinto. They really are a gorgeous plane! It could also have been Mark Redsell or Simon Thornton. It might also have been Greg Dakin with his Jedi?
The conditions were starting to really drop off by the end of the second round with a bit of waiting on the flight line for the conditions to read 3m/s and the same was evident for the start of the 3rd round. I was standing waiting to launch, looking at a large group of birds circle out in front of the slope weighing up whether to launch and run to the thermal to get height and risk not being able to have a re-flight due to launching in non-legal wind speeds.
I nodded to Simon to launch and took the risk.
I got out to the thermal, gained quite a bit more height than I had previously been able to and bombed back onto the course half expecting the air to be electric and smash though each turn. It was clear at turn one that I needed to conserve that energy and I managed to set the fastest time of the day with a ‘blistering’ 56 second run.
Mike and Mark also got sub 60 second runs both in the 58’s I believe.
We tried so hard to get a 4th round flown.
Initially we attempted it on the slope we had used but with 4 out of the first 6 pilots being awarded reflights due to a drop in the conditions we shifted around the slope to the south and as we got the course set up, the wind died altogether and the competition was called finished and incomplete as we need 4 rounds to count towards a BMFA League result.
Below are the final results after 3 completed rounds
1 Clayton Landells 2939.37
2 Mark Redsell 2919.62
3 Mike Evans 2898.59
4 Simon Thornton 2813.44
5 Peter Gunning 2794.11
6 Paul Stubley 2778.61
7 Andy Burgoyne 2730.54
8 Greg Dakin 2699.69
9 Martin Newnham 2629.69
10 Mark Treble 2567.33
11 John Treble 2467.13
Yes, you are reading that correctly.
I won with a Willow2!!
I wouldn’t have made any different calls, including the round Zero and I’d like to thank Mike Evans and Andy Burgoyne for hosting and running the event.
Thanks also to all the pilots for their encouragement and support. It is one of the best aspects of F3F in my opinion and why I loves it!
But everyone loves a what if……
What if round zero was round 1!!!!!
I’d be insufferable and you’d never hear the end of it! Hahahaha
Better get packing for my trip to the German Open at Rugen!!