----- Original Message -----
From: Sydney Lenssen
To: faisoaring (@) sv.uio.no (become a member of this list HERE)
Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 5:34 PM
Subject: [FAIsoaring] 2005 Eurochamps

 
Dear FAISOARING

Keep up the good work. But where are all the msgs these days?

Best wishes sydney

2005 EUROPEAN F3J CHAMPIONSHIPS, CROATIA

PROSPECTS GOSSIP COLUMN
produced by Uncle Sydney

Dateline: 5 JULY 2005

Two weeks from now, the cream of Europe’s F3J flyers will gather in Osijek, Croatia, for the fifth European championships. The prospect is that yet another closely fought contest will see scores rising even higher than previous World and European contests. Fly-off scores will almost certainly be divided by split seconds. National teams will need all three senior or junior pilots to excel.

But who is going to win? Which team will dominate? The time has come to get the crystal ball - and a few guesses - into play.

First a taste of Osijek, and for those like me who don’t know, I am advised that you should pronounce it “Aussie-yeck”. A river port on the Drava in the east of Croatia and with a population of 100,000, it is a regional centre. It has zoological gardens if any flyers become bored. One of my neighbours who fled as a refugee after the second world war remembers Osijek as the place to go for school books or if your family wanted to buy clothes or anything special.

Average temperatures during July are 28 degrees C with a minimum of 15. The month usually has ten days rain, totalling 60 mm of water, typically in the early evening as showers. They told us something similar in 1999 at Deva in Romania, but the F3J Eurochamps there sparked some of the wildest electrical storms. It will be hot. There will be thermals, but I bet they will be elusive at times.

The prospects gossip usually lists countries in alphabetical order, but this year we shall follow the order of when each country paid their entry fees, always a vital comfort for those charged to organise by FAI. One slight snag is that I cannot name or find out who is flying from the host country. What I do know is that I got my first 2005 Eurochamps leaflet two years beforehand in Bled and the Croatians were confident that they would host the best contest to date.

First team in was Belgium, with renewed determination this year to regain its reputation as one of the F3J originators. Led by team manager Gunther Cuypers, they have three seniors, Rene Brosens, Guy Hufkens and David Claeys. Bram Druyts is their sole junior.

The Belgians went down in force to Arbois in France for the Eurotour in June, and excelled getting three into the fly-off with Tom Mertens placing second. But none of the three are due to be in Osijek. David Claeys came in at 28th. They will need luck but should not be underestimated.

Everyone will be pleased to see a full Polish team of seniors and juniors for they do not always make the championships. Seniors Mieczyslaw Slowik, Aleksander Laskowski and Krzysztof Stasiak have all competed at top level including Corfu’s WCs, and three juniors are Wojciech Byrski, Jakub Jankowiak and Michal Obiala. Poland has a big glider tradition, but so far modellers have failed to reach the eminence of full size compatriots.

Hungary has one of the easier journeys to Osijek this year and there’s one new name among their seniors, Gyorgy Dobranszky. Andras Szeri and Endre Voros were in Holic in 2001. I am not sure as yet whether Hungary’s Eurotour went ahead in early June because there were uncertainties. Their pilots will fly well but not to podium level I fear.

France always brings a “joie de vivre” to championships, especially in the shape of wine bottles. We shall miss Stephane Mazot and his cackling chuckles, and team manager will be Eric Boudeville. In with a good chance this year and on my fly-off list is Yann Bocquet, at last a senior after several years of being the oldest looking junior pilot. Lionel Fournier and Bertrand Wilmot make up the team with flair.

Another experienced team will come from Israel, Roy Dor doubling as team manager and pilot, and Uri De-Swaan and Eldad Manheim. They must be looking for a peaceful week without the groundless scares we all had in Holic. It’s a pity that distances mean we don’t see much of this country’s F3J pilots.

Finland places a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of Janne Savolainen because he is again a one pilot team, as in Red Deer, Canada. But he will get support from his valiant wife - no broken bones I hope this year - and his sister Jenni. She will travel from England with Neil Jones. The UK team might even help with the odd tow!

Ukraine’s entries leave me slightly puzzled. Team manager and senior pilot is Oleksiy Nadashkevych with two other pilots called “yes” and “yes” which presumably means others are coming. First junior is Yuri Gavrylko who flew well and had a ball last year in Red Deer. So I presume that we shall also see his father Volodymyr, producer of the Graphites and other super models which flood out of Ukraine and sell over the world, particularly into the US these days. “Vladimir” - my spelling - has not missed a world or Euro champs for six years and more. They are all fun and much part of the scene, but don’t expect a podium place as yet.

Moving into the heavyweights, next are the Netherlands, hoping to clinch a winning spot which they have missed since 1997’s first Eurochamps when Alex Hoekstra took the crown. But they always do well at Euro level and the country has strength in numbers and pilots fight hard for their places.

This year Arnout Janssen team manager leads Egbert van der Laan, Karel van Baalen and Geert van Melick, together with juniors Lesley van der Laan and Max Janssen. Helpers include such old hands as Peter Zweers, Frank van Melick, Jos Kleuskens, two more van der Laans and Gerrit Zweers. Croatian beer is strong and the Dutch will make inroads. I shall be surprised if two do not make the fly-offs.

Next in line with paid-up fees are the Brits, led for the first time by Austin Guerrier who always flies well in Eurotour events. This time he manages - if that’s possible - senior flyers Mike Raybone, Adrian Lee and Neil Jones flying in his first Eurochamps. Jonathan Wells will be there with his parents as the sole junior.

Each year I hesitate to bet on UK, so this year my fingers are crossed for two to reach the finals. It could be any two and they would all be pleased. When Neil flew in Lappeenranta, his first time at WC level, he surprised us all with his cool head and eye for elusive lift. This year he’s worked hard on three second launches and spot landings. But I hope he leaves these until the fly-offs. Adrian is UK’s most experienced F3J champ and must be a favourite. And Mike can and has risen to the occasion many times, and this year he’s crashed his favourite model already, so he doesn’t need to see any more off in practice this time.

For many F3J fans and for the voters on the Eurochamp web-site, second shortest odds are for the Czechs, there in full force with three seniors and three juniors plus defending Eurochamp Jan Kohout. I fully expected Jan to stay climbing in the mountains, for that hobby has overtaken his passion for thermal flying. But he made a comeback in North Cyprus in March, and came second. So the crampons are not hindering his fingers yet.

A special welcome back to the big event for Michal Vagner who has had a couple of lean years and then came second at Podhorany last month. Jaroslav Tupec and Jan Vacha make up the seniors, and juniors are Jan Votoupal, Tomas Tuma (son of Jiri of Xantia fame and second Eurotour winner so many years ago) and Martin Grmela. Team manager is Jan Votoupal and helpers include Samba father and son Vostrel of Pike fame and a host of other established F3J heroes.

The Czechs will surely loom large with more than one place in both senior and juniors fly-offs. But I intend to buck the odds in my top place betting.

Romania is famous for running FAI championship events including the 1999 and 2003 F3J Eurochamps. It is pleasing that seniors and juniors will make the relatively short journey to Osijek, with Silviui Iordan acting as manager and pilot. He is joined by Gheorghe Iordan and Cristinel Serban as seniors, and Janos Gocsman, Andrei Nemes and Norbert Scarlat representing the juniors. Considering the standards of F3J flying in Deva six years ago - moulded models were unknown - the country deserve high praise and good luck for this effort.

Slovakia is another country where F3J flying and model standards come close to perfection. They will host next year’s world championships in Martin, which promises to be memorable because of the beauty of the town and region, and the taste of the wine and beer. To win any Slovak team place requires skills and dedication far beyond most of us. As teams, they are a force at championship levels.

Led by the redoubtable Jaro Muller, father and innovator supreme of the moulded glider, the senior team has Juraj Adamek, Jan Ivancik and Pavol Vasicek. Juniors are Tibor Duchovny, Jan Littva and Daniel Demecko. Juraj would seem to have most experience and travels widely on the Eurotour and I would be surprised if he is not joined in the fly-off by another Slovak.

Dominant in so many FAI competition categories and currently supreme in F3J is Germany. The number of pilots, both junior and senior, who fly consistently well and often win at world, european and Eurotour levels speaks for itself. This year Germany’s most successful F3J pilot is ex-junior world champ Tobias Lammlein, who topped the qualifying rounds at Red Deer. He has already won the German national championship, the French Eurotour at Arbois two weeks ago and he has all but clinched his place in the team for 2006 F3J WC in Martin. But he did not merit a pilot place for this event.

Manager Thomas Rossner, taking time off from the Turks, heads a senior team of Philip Kolb (last year’s Eurotour winner by a four point margin), Dieter Rybold, second in Istanbul and third at Podhorany, and Sebastian Feigl who flies mean and often wins. Gemany gets a fourth pilot, Thomas Fischer, now a senior pilot and in Croatia as current world junior champion.

In fact, Osijek promises to be another “Feigl-fest” because Benedict Feigl heads the junior team, having come third in last year’s Eurotour, and Papa Peter Feigl is one of the helpers. Turkey fans will remember that last October all three Feigls made the fly-offs in Istanbul, which is a bit over the top when it comes to two-man tows!

Second junior is Tobias Sollfrank, a newcomer to champs, and third is Oliver Ladach. The juniors will be managed and coached by Reinhard Vallant, the world’s first junior champion and still a winner more often than not. He’s a cracker! (Gossip always find a word for Reinhard which sends him hunting for a dictionary to decide whether it’s rude or not.)

Team Germany as ever has been practising hard. In April they were wakened at 04.00 hours and launching in cold winds at 06.00 hours two days running, measuring launch heights and practising broken line relights. You need to believe that they are not invincible, and one or two flyers and perhaps even one team will knock them off the top spots.

Blue T-shirts will mark the Italian team, as well as noisy fun and fancy cooking on the site.This year they have had outstanding success in Osijek in May gaining three fly-off places. Can that can be repeated in July is a bigger question, but I wish manager Guiseppe Generale and his experienced flight team of Marco Salvigni, Massimo Verardi and Claudio Zavagno good luck and last second landings.

Junior team has the cheerful but quiet Marco Generali, Thomas Truffo and Filippo Gallizia. Rover Mersecchi, such a key figure in Forli Eurotour events, heads a dedicated team of helpers. It is time for Italy to produce a podium place, so here’s hoping!

Dark horses for the champs are Lithuania, sending for the first time three seniors, Valdas Braziunas, Ricardas Siumbrys and Gintaras Kuckailis. My recollection is that this country has produced some fine moulded models and if these skills progress into flying expertise, then the three newcomers might give us all a shock. Let’s see and in the meantime wish them luck and a happy championship.

Team Turkey is still riding high after last year’s triumphant second team place in Canada, and the big question is: can they keep their nerve and go for those distant patches of lift. But in Croatia, it could be more difficult. The slow lift which barely keeps you level is likely in many slots, and it needs patience, not the quick dash away to find something stronger.

But be sure, the Turkey spirit and determination led by Serdar Cumbus, with pilots Mustafa Koc, Murat Esibatir and Ilgaz Kalacioglu, and pampered by Semin Kiziltoprak, will be there in full force and plenty of ice in their glasses. They could show us that Red Deer was no flash in the pan, but I don’t expect a podium team place this time. I do hope for a good fly-off place.

At the time of writing, Slovenia have yet to pay entry fees and I have to assume that they will raid the piggy banks in time. Their senior team of Primoz Prhavc, Primoz Rizner and Nejc Bozic are well known on the Eurotour circuit and gain high places for a country with not so many F3J pilots.

They also have three juniors, Rok Bozic, Jan Hlastec and Tomaz Kranjc. Another Bozic - Roman is a helper and Paavelk Prhavc is team manager. Slovenia runs Eurotour’s last event in September each year at Bled, on the most idyllic aerodrome set against a backdrop of mighty Alpine peaks, with full size gliders and sport planes taking off and landing before, during and after contest slots. As next door neighbours, they have the best chance ever of Eurochamp success this year.

Last to register - just a month ago - was Bulgaria, led by Nikolay Nikolov, boss of Nan Models, a little known but big force in glider models. His team of Emil Dragomirov, Konstantin Ranov and Sotir Lazarkov have been competing hard this year. I think this is a first FAI F3J champs for Bulgaria and they deserve a special welcome.

We have seen the team this year in North Cyprus and in Istanbul. Let nobody underestimate the models these guys are flying. Unknown to many of us, Nikolay Nikolov has built up a substantial manufacturing plant, selling gliders all over the world, more than rivalling big concerns in China, Taiwan and Vietnam. In UK, best known are the Highlight series of lightweight gliders and electric soarers, including the dlg Highlight.

Nan makes models for other designers too. I understand that Graupner’s next F3J model will be fully moulded and produced “anonymously” by Nikolay. Bulgaria is well on the way to displacing the Czechs as Europe’s biggest suppliers. They are based near the Black Sea coast and will have a long drive across to Croatia. 2005 is not likely to be a prize winning year, but could be the start of something special for the future.

Last team which could appear are the Russians. I got all excited last year to hear that they would fly in Canada, but in the end they didn’t show. Will it be different in Osijek? If it is, then we’ll see team manager Michail Bubnov leading both senior and junior teams. I got told off last year because I’d written that the Russian names meant nothing to me, but Espen Torp wrote to say he recognised several from their F3B exploits.

Which reminds me, I suspect that we won’t see anyone from Norway, and web-diarist Jo Grini tells me that he will be in the United States flying in their Nationals and touring various flying sites. We shall miss you Jojo, your banter and your pictures from Osijek!

This gossip column won’t go down well unless I make a few guesses. I am not going to name the favourites, even if they look to everyone else like winners. That would be too easy. I am sure that Osijek will produce a few surprises.

The Germans have been practising too hard, and although form has them as senior team winners, I place them second or third. Top team is likely to be the Czechs with Holland making the third place. Top senior pilot this year in my book is Primoz Rizner flying his own design which is moulded for him by Nan Models in Bulgaria. It’s a blatant crib, across between a Pike and a Sharon, and in his fingers it can cope with minimum lift in both rough and calm. He had a test fly in Osijek in May and won the cup by less than half a point.

I travel to Osijek towards the end of next week with my compact disc cut down the middle, ready to measure the nose radii at registration. An exciting week lies ahead with a mixture of hot sunny weather and the odd storm, hopefully after the flying has stopped. Twenty countries will test themselves and I wish them all good luck! With more luck, I’ll have gossip to report after the event.

Sydney Lenssen. (sydney.lenssen (@) virgin.net)

 

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