----- Original Message -----
From: Sydney Lenssen ( sydney.lenssen (@) virgin.net )
Cc: jo grini
Sent: Tuesday, August 02, 2005 8:27 PM


by Uncle Sydney

Dateline: 2 August 2005

Osijek and the Croatian Aeronautical Federation pulled out all the stops from 18-22 July and produced the most tricky and competitive F3J championships so far, much to the delight of the 84 competitors, their helpers and friends and the host organisers.

Hot weather which could suddenly turn chilly, calm air and then minutes later gusty winds, waterlogged ground and mosquitoes, all added to the spice of five days of competition. Determination and efficiency by Marin Kordic and his team of organisers helped to achieve the targetted 14 preliminary rounds, more than any F3J champs to date, giving ample time for eight rounds of flyoffs before mid afternoon on the final Friday.

The German team almost swept the board, winning both senior and junior team first places. Philip Kolb at last clinched his first FAI top medal as Eurochampion, only fitting after coming third in the Canadian world championships last year and winning the Contest Eurotour for the past two years.

For him the winning is no fluke at all. My bet is he could turn up anywhere in the world, take his models out of the back of his car and then fly out any number of 10 minute slots whatever the weather. Yet for several days before Osijek started, he was practising early morning, noon and late evening.

Congratulations too for Tibor Duchovny from Slovakia, 2005 junior champion. Alone he saved us from listening to the German anthem four consecutive times at the prize-giving ceremony.

By four points he pipped Oliver Ladach, a new German thermal reader, who started F3J flying only one year ago and has already qualified for Martin next year. His dad was towing with Helmut Rohner and hardly dared to watch. His mum Berbel also stayed close to the towing stakes so as not to distract her son. Third was Lesley van der Laan from Holland, the smiling cherub with icy precision skills.

Best of all for the fifth F3J Eurochamps was that all the pilots were tested by skies which could be calm and nearly liftless early and late in the day, then suddenly gusty, sometimes wet with narrow bands of tempting lift which left you struggling to get back. Crosswinds on two days sometimes reached close to the limits for reasonable safety, but despite a few doubts the slots continued apace.

This year it was not a matter of rolling off the 9 minutes 50 seconds plus each round and being careful not to lose more than five landing points. Everyone had at least two scores that they would prefer to drop.

Fittingly, it was Damir Kmoch from host country Croatia who topped the qualifying rounds, missing 283 points from the possible 13,000. In the 13th round, Damir only managed a score of 255 points, which he was pleased to drop. In simple language it means that to win you could afford to drop nearly 14 seconds in each round providing you hit the 100 landing spot, easy meat for some in previous years!

The 12th and last flyoff place went to Primoz Prhavc of Slovenia who scored 550 points fewer than Damir, a remarkable margin, when over the last few years the margins separating the flyoff places have been less than 20 points. No need this year for CIAM to rack its brains thinking about how to widen the margins between top pilots.

Another measure of increased team rivalry was that no country got all three senior flyers into the flyoff. The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany managed to get two pilots in.

Jan Kohout and Jaroslav Tupec went on to take second and third place medals, Juraj Adamek and Jan Ivancik showed why Slovakia deserved to take second team medals, and eventual winner Philip and Sebastian Feigl who placed fifth were the Germans.

Remaining flyoff places were won by Lionel Fournier from France, Guy Hufkens from Belgium, Italy’s Marco Salvigni and Uri De-Swaan from Israel. Few flyoff finals have produced such a spread of international talents, a real tribute to the high flying abilities in so many countries as well as the build quality and soaring ability of F3J models available today.

How much difference did it make to fly 14 qualifying rounds rather than the nine required as minimum by FAI? My rule of thumb in most national contests is that after five or six rounds have been flown, then the top flyoff places will be almost settled. If you fly a further three or four ronds, only one or two of the last places will be affected.

In Osijek, if the flyoff had taken place after nine rounds, then nine of the flyoff places would have been the same as after 14 rounds. The order of pilots would have changed, but since the flyoff is the start of a new competition, that is not relevant.

So let me express sympathy with Ricardas Siumbrys from Lithuania who was in fourth place after nine rounds but then dropped to 15th, Roy Dor from Israel who would have given Israel two flyoff places if he had kept up his early pace, and Szeri Andras from Hungary who slipped from 12th to 17th place. And cheers for those who crept in late. They were Jan Kohout who moved from 19th place to 10th place over the last five rounds, Lionel Fournier who jumped from 16th to fifth place, and Juraj Adamek of Slovakia who skipped up from 13th place into second place.


“One reliable method of measuring how well a championship is directed and managed is to count the number of protests which the jury has to deal with.” So says Tomas Bartovsky who headed the Osijek jury along with Gerhard Wobekking, a free flight enthusiast from Hamburg, and Bruno Muk, a clocal police chief. There were no protests.

Another trusty measure is how many team managers meetings are held. At Osijek there was one, on the night before the contest started, and you need one to brief the managers. That meeting was not controversial since most of the F3J rules and conventions have gained wide acceptance. Some managers expressed disquiet about the need for pilots to change frequencies between rounds. In forming the matrix, contest director Marin had found that he could not achieve a fair mix which allowed most flyers to fly against all their rivals without pilots changing crystals. Thomas Rossner, the German team manager, regretted this format and predicted at least one or more pilots would lose models. Sadly he was right.

Sotir Lazarkov from Bulgaria was the culprit and Gintaras Kuckailis from Lithuania was the victim. Sotir flew on channel 77 for Round Zero and remembered that he had to change to channel 69 for the second round. In the nervy contest proper start he changed channels one round early, and two pilots tried to launch on 69 in Slot 5. Gintaras’ Pike was first to explode, still on the line as it smashed into the ground 20 metres short of the tow men. For his sins, Sotir’s Vision buried its nose up to the wing between occupied tents in the team enclosure area. So easily that could have been fatal and the end of the contest.

Jan Kohout was sat in his tent less than a metre from the missile. What a relief to smile later with Jan when he said: “Today I had my second birthday.”

For his sins, and noone was more sorry and apologetic than him, the Bulgarian was banned from the next round, meaning two zeroes.

Thomas Fischer flew his slot with the wrong frequency in round seven, fortunately this time without clashing with another channel, and he was zeroed, the culmination of what proved to be an unhappy event for this former junior world champion. I hope and expect he will regain top form next year in Slovakia.

The lesson from all this is that changing frequencies between rounds should be avoided at all costs. CIAM should take another look at safe frequency spacings with modern equipment. The Slovaks suggested that each country could be allocated a fixed frequency for all FAI competitions, well in advance, and each national competitor would then know what he/she must have. When this was looked at in the past not enough frequencies were available to cover all countries. But is that still true with more bands and better equipment?


Two puzzling hints from the new champion: Philip Kolb, like many of the big heroes of our F3J world, is ever ready to discuss the latest design trends, design tips and wing profiles. This year you did not need to be too observant to see that the red wings on his Pikes sported a turbulator strip, placed somewhat surprisingly to me, some 30mm or so in front of the gap sealers for the flaps and ailerons.

According to Philip and various aerofoil prediction computer programs, the Pike’s section, as well as making a howling sound when it hurtles around the field towards the end of working time, also exhibits separation and a big drag bucket at that point on the upper surface. The turbulator strip which consists of three layers of Trimstrip, 5 mm wide, trips the air and reduces drag especially when the coefficient of lift is around 0.4, significant when flying across the sky in distance mode to find another thermal. Philip sounded convincing.

One joker, who shall be nameless, suggested that this was Philip’s latest ruse to psych out his rivals. Sure enough next day, I spotted two other Pikes where Trimstrip had been added and pilots were testing. Prediction was that by the time the competition started, half the Pikes would have turbulators. And the biggest laugh of all would have been if Philip turned up for his first slot with his usual big smile and the Trimstrip removed. Of course he didn’t.

Equally amazing is Philip’s rationale for having his receiver aerial fed through the carbon fuselage, up into the fin and out as a fine stiff wire taped to the top of the rudder, extending about 300 mm from the back. Most people including myself, when dealing with a carbon fuselage, feed the aerial out of the fuselage as quickly as possible, tape it outside to just behind the wing and then let it float.

Windtunnel tests and theory show that the hanging wire has a drag equivalent to the complete glider at many useful air speeds!! Scarcely conceivable it would seem. On my latest model, the Espada R, Jaro Muller has done the same thing, the aerial wire being supplied with the aerial lead threaded up the back of the fin. I can see numbers of flyers testing this one out over coming weeks!


One slight disappointment with the fifth F3J Eurochamps was the absence of new models and technical developments. The Pike is currently the most popular model by far, and the Vostrel family must feel delighted that so many top flyers have one, two or three Pikes of various forms, X-tail and V-tail, full carbon or lightweights, with conventional colours or exotic multi-coloured finishes and patterning, in their armory for the event. Pikes certainly seem to perform well across the whole range of weather conditions.

But some pilots maintain that in flat calm, barely lifty conditions, you need to have a Sharon in your locker. For example Philip brought his Sharon out once or twice to gain that extra 30 seconds when nobody flies out the full 10 minutes. Several of the juniors and some German and Dutch team members have also stuck faithfully to Sharons and Spaces which have won many contests over recent years. But the time has come for HKM’s Willy Helpenstein to get his new up-dated F3J models onto the market.

There was a sprinkling of Ghosts, moulded Graphites, Starlights, Esprits, Escapes and Geert van Melick’s bits-and pieces models which also flew well at times and were competitive. Junior Yuri Gavrylko flew his Ava polyhedral rudder/elevator/spoiler lightweight in early and late slots, but there remains some way to go to make it fully competitive.

One newish model was the Vision flown by the Slovenians, some Croatians and Bulgarians which I predicted would do well. It did not do badly and I am still confident that its future bodes well. It will be attractive in price for newcomers to F3J which must help the sport.

In last month’s Prospects Gossip column I wrote about Primoz Rizner from Slovenia flying his own design, Vision, although I did not name it, moulded by Nan Models in Bulgaria, calling it a cross between the Pike and Sharon.

That description provoked a detailed response from Bogo Stempihar who with Michael Grom runs Mibo Modeli in Slovenia. This firm has been involved in the shadows for Graupner for many years producing the Soarmaster, aerodynamics by Dr Helmut Quabeck, a friend of Bogo and indeed a friend of all model glider pilots for what he has done for aerofoils.

Mibo Modeli tells me: “Vision was designed after long discussions with the Slovenian F3J team and Mibo, on the basis of can we make a new better Soarmaster. The new design was tested with prototypes with conventional styro/obechi wings to check the model was as good in practice as the computer simulation.”

So it is not a blatant crib, as I suggested, but a design based on Soarmaster experiences. The wing geometry is the same, the centre panel has a smaller span, the outer panels the same shape. For better and faster starts, the aerofoil has been changed from HQW 3,0 to HQW 2,5, and since the wing is now fully composite and moulded, it can take the the thinner aerofoil.

The depth of section is kept at 8% from the root up to about 20 cm from the wing tip, where on the advice of Dr Quabeck, the HQW 3,0/10 is retained for low Reynolds numbers. The leading edges are now elliptic rather than straight as on the Soarmaster. The fuselage is completely new with a small pylon to gain better aerodynamic clearance around the centre and easier landings.

For economic reasons, Nan Models in Bulgaria which is run by Nikolai Nikolov has gone into partnership with Mibo to produce the complete models. Normal weights for the 3.155 metre Vision is between 1700-1750 gm with lighter versions at 1620 gm. In strong winds, Bogo reckons that you don’t need more than 250 g of ballast, which tallies with what I saw in Istanbul earlier this year and in Osijek. For more details, log onto www.mibomodeli.si.

Bogo has a lot more to say about future Graupner plans and next year’s new F3J model Super Soarmaster, which he reckons will be a blatant crib between Vision and Xperience PRO, but that will have to wait for further gossip.


Eurochamp gossip would not be complete without checking back on early predictions. This year I have a red face, with far more wrong than right, but that is the life of a pundit!

Even the weather proved unpredictable. We were told that July should bring on average 60 mm of water, but the month was not half over when we arrived and three times the rainfall had been measured. Parts of the Sports Flying Field were under water and even the camping area was boggy. That did not hamper the test flying because the temperatures were into the 30s, and in the right place you could throw a wing bag into the air and watch it climb.

The organisers were praying that the towing areas would dry out, and indeed they did. We did not have the electrical storm, but we had two heavy rain showers and some nasty gusts which took the roof off one shelter and blew down many of the tents and gazeboes.

Predictions of flyoff places proved unreliable, and Yann Bocquet from France let me down. His team-mate Lionel Fournier made up by winning a place. I did not reckon on the Israelis doing as well as they did. They happened to be staying in the same block of apartments as me, 8 km north of Osijek. Their success owed much to the “Valvoline” plum brandy which the landlord served us with breakfast. First morning nobody dared to taste it, but by Friday we were all at it.

The Dutch were their happy and busy selves as usual, but otherwise they had a sad contest, none of the seniors making the flyoff and only gaining eighth place in the team contest rather than the podium place I wanted. Be warned they will do better in Slovakia next year!

I’d wished for two flyoff places among the four Brits, but that was not to be by a long chalk. Happily the team’s spirits remained high, despite a bit of carnage. There was none of the silly niggling of previous years and team manager Austin Guerrier only got angry with two delayed launches when concentration went missing.

Mike Raybone was unlucky during practice when his Starlight was left propped against a tent in the heat of the sun, leaving a wing tip panel swollen and bent over into an anhedral shape. Some rebending and coaxing made the best of a bad job and the model was flown in practice just in case it was needed. Then in the late afternoon Mike caught the tail of his best model in the towline, the model was uncontrollable and went in upside down in full crow between the tents. We all feared the worst, only to find that it had landed in soft ground unharmed. In the end Mike finished best in the team with 24th place.

Adrian Lee had a distant mid-air in the first round when all looked set to fly out the slot. His reflight proved tougher. In the collision, the outer panel flew off, leaving the rest of the red Graphite to twirl down fairly gently two or three fields away from the airfield. The tip was found two days later, but the valuable bit was still lost when we left Osijek in what might have been shoulder height sunflowers after several searches and an overhead sweep by a light plane. After nine rounds Adrian was still in with a chance, but Thursday saw that dwindle in the tricky winds.

Neil Jones had a mixed bag of good and bad flights. Amazingly he came back home with highest spirits, determined to tackle F3J in Europe and improve. Two of his three models were broken, one hitting a factory half a mile away after returning in unforgiving sink - two others did not make it back in that slot. Then a collision on launch took the nose off another trusty Pike. By that stage all was lost for the team score and he dropped out.

With one fewer bad flights - he got two 400 odd - Jonathan Wells could have made the finals, coming in at 15th. His flying came on leaps and bounds over the week, he flew at distances far beyond my eyesight, and put in a polished performance which should make his parents proud. I hope he will be back next year, and that he learns to make himself less reticent, fully confident that he can win.

At last, I got something right by predicting that the Czechs would get two places in both the senior and junior flyoffs. Special congratulations to Jan Kohout for pushing Philip to his limit in the flyoff. Jan told me in a whisper before the contest started that he was there to enjoy himself and wanted someone else to become champion. But then he flew as hard as anyone, particularly the round in which he allowed everyone to launch in the cross winds, waited to make sure that nobody was left to launch, and then did a wonderful low level sweep right across everyone else’s lines, barely losing 5 metres of line. Then he pitched straight into wind to achieve double the height of his rivals, winning that slot with ease. A champion in all but result!

I predicted that the Slovak team would be a force at championship level, and they were outstanding. Jan Ivancik came fourth in seniors with Juraj Adamek placing sixth, Tibor Duchovny won the juniors and the senior team came second in the team prizes.

Team Lithuania was not in my reckoning and they did not place. But they should have been pleased with their successes, placing ninth team overall and thoroughly enjoying what must have been unusual weather for them. I should also correct my previous gossip, because they do not produce home grown moulded models as far as I know. It was Estonia, home of the Tragi range that I was crediting them with earlier.

It is hard to know how to console the Turks. They arrived with the usual panache and entourage, they flew with verve and enthusiasm, and created the same excitement and bonhomie for all the contestants. They beat the Poles by coming in 12th team place. They let me down by not securing one flyoff place. Better luck next time, but my best wishes will be as nothing compared with the determination which they will inflict on themselves for the next 12 months.

Final self-recriminations are for top places. Germany proved me wrong and did win top place for senior and junior teams. Big congratulations for Thomas Rossner and Reinhard Vallant for managing their dedicated teams. They really do work hard and systematically to remain top F3J flyers, and a string of juniors is waiting their chances to take up the challenge.

I predicted the Czechs taking top spot and they came in late at third place. Primos Rizner was my tip for champion, and sadly did not make the flyoff. His first flight was in tricky conditions, coming in with many others halfway through the slot, only to see another flying the whole slot. That really put the pressure on, and only in the ninth round did he slip again out of the 990’s and lost his way. His team-mate Primoz Prhavc did better, scraping into the flyoff and coming seventh at the end.

Faithful gossip readers know that mine are only guesses. But this year’s record should warn you not to bet too much money next time.


Brickbats and bouquets: the biggest bouquet should go to Marin Kordic and his team of organisers who worked long hours before, during and after the contest, ever eager to ensure that everyone felt at home. Also to the City of Osijek, not so long ago a community locked in battle and strife, now a proudly independent part of Croatia, eager to move on and welcome all visitors. The town was dotted with large posters telling everyone that they were home and hosts to the F3J Eurochamps. I am sure that all participants will thank you all for being such energetic hosts.

No personal brickbats this time, but a big one for the mosquitoes which did their best to discourage all skin exposure. One evening the airfield was doused in thick smoke belching from a tractor and trailer in an attempt to discourage the biters, and then we were told that it would only kill the newly hatched. “Too late” we cried as we scratched our itches!

Roll on Martin next year and the fifth world F3J championships.

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



Read also the gossip before EC HERE

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