|F3J WORLD CHAMPS 2006, MARTIN, SLOVAKIA
CHAMPIONSHIP GOSSIP COLUMN
by Uncle Sydney
Dateline: August 2006
World championships do not get more thrilling than Martin’s. And he’s
done it again. David Hobby is the F3J world champion 2006. He’s the
first man to do it twice, and consecutively at that. Nobody can dispute
that he is the worthiest pilot to carry the Neil Webb trophy back again
David’s clinching flight was the second round of the flyoffs where he
coaxed an extra 100 seconds from his Pike Perfect over Canada’s Rolf
Oetter by riding the breeze in kinder parts of the overcast sky than all
Then to crown it in the fourth and last round, he mid-aired with the
Italian Massimo Verardi, leaving his right wing panel skewed like a
gullwing with two minutes still to fly and 300 metres from the spot.
After a spin or two, he nursed it in gently but not too fast, already
certain that he was entitled to a refly, then landed on the spot for
100, but 50 seconds early.
Massimo decided that he wouldn’t ask for a refly. Canny spectators and
Karl Hinsch, two spots away, knew that David did not need a refly
because he was already champion. So we all waited for four minutes for
the times to be lodged and official confirmation. Then we all cheered
the champ with a broken wing! He was elated.
Flyoff Saturday, overcast with barely a glimpse of blue sky, the day for
four rounds of junior and four rounds of senior flyoffs, was only part
of the excitement. Friday had seen the last two preliminary rounds of
senior and juniors in tricky weather, fully overcast, most but not all
times thermally, with sometimes gusty and misleading winds.
I have never seen the battle for final flyoff places so keenly fought,
nearly every slot bringing casualties. Philip Kolb, lying second in the
penultimate round, lost 70 seconds and dropped out. Four slots earlier,
Carl Strautins hurled his cap into the ground in disgust landing 22
seconds early, certain he’d lost his place. Then much later, his hopes
reawakened nailbitingly as others slumped. Italian Marco Salvigni, who’d
flown brilliantly for ten rounds, dropped 260 points was out, whereas
team mate Massimo Verardi dropped only 3 points and was in.
The evening before, at a technical meeting called by Tomas Bartovsky to
review possible rule changes, several team managers moaned that Martin
and other recent championship venues had too often resulted in “launch
and land” contests - not soaring. Yet the following morning, highest
order skills in making the best of rotten air were vital, together with
a little bit of luck if you went for the wrong side of the sky.
Another bonus for hundreds of F3J fans around the world was the
excellent web-site, masterminded by Patrik Michnac, where results were
posted within minutes of appearing at the control tent. For the record
and at risk of boring most gossip fans, senior team prize went to
Germany. Karl Hinsch and Sebastian Feigl gained flyoff places with
Philip Kolb missing by 0.5 of a point in 9,914.30.
USA team came second, 220 points behind, Joe Wurts making the flyoff as
sole American, Skip Miller and Tom Kiesling making up their total. Tom,
who was flying his own bagged versions of the Supra, scored as many
1000’s as anyone, but had a poor round one flight - dropped - and
collected a 100 point penalty. Every pilot must have had tales of “what
if” and “if only”!
Third was the Slovak national team of Juraj Adamek, Pavol Vasicek and
Jan Ivancik, just 69 points behind the US, remarkable since none gained
a flyoff place. Local success brought a deserved big cheer at the
prize-giving in the town square later that evening.
Junior team results showed real surprises, Germany knocked into third
place by USA in top spot, convincingly 356 points ahead of Italy in
second place. Cody Remington, Casey Adamczyk and Joseph Newcomb all flew
brilliantly in the championship, the flyoffs and the Martin Cup. They
were staunchly supported by parents, a good manager and enjoyed more
than a little help from launcher/spotter Joe Wurts.
Congratulations too for the Italian juniors who certainly exceeded my
expectations. They enjoyed the loudest and most vociferous support!
What happened to the German juniors? Up until Martin, they had won all
previous junior team titles. Chatting with Reinhard Barefoot Vallant
their manager at the opening ceremony, he was guarded about prospects,
modesty I thought at the time. He reckoned the raw will-to-win and
self-confidence was not quite at the same level as last year in Osijek.
The more champions I see over the years, the more I recognise that
winning pilots do psych themselves up, and frame of mind plays as much a
role as trannie skills and reading the air.
Junior world champion after a four round flyoff which was even more
competitive than the seniors, is Cody Remington flying his Espada RL. He
comes from Colorado, flies with Skip Miller and has been competing
seriously for only two years. Second came Benedikt Feigl, only two
points behind. Third place went to Casey Adamczyk, again from the US.
No need to repeat that the senior winner was David Hobby, so instead a
story. In the Turiec Hotel two days before the champs started, seeing
David for the first time this year, he stopped short well away and
loudly informed everyone in the lobby that he would never talk to me
again. “You don’t rate my chances, you don’t reckon I can make the
flyoff, I’ll show you.” And he did!
Second place went to Sebastian Feigl who only just made the flyoffs. I
reckon Sebastian is Germany’s most improved F3J pilot over the past 12
months since winning Hollandglide 2005.
Third place went to Rolf Oetter from Canada, a pilot who emigrated to
Canada from Germany some 15 years ago to find better job prospects. Rolf
placed third in the preliminary rounds too which shows consistency.
There are those in the F3J world who feel it would be fairer if the
rules were changed to require scores from both the preliminary rounds
and flyoffs to be added. I would tend to favour such a change, if only
because it seems strange to spend four or five days of the contest, with
everyone competing against each other, then devoting an hour or two to
decide the champion. Why have two contests?
What would have happened in Martin 2006 with such a change?
All 12 places - David Hobby, Sebastian Feigl, Rolf Oetter, Joe Wurts,
Karl Hinsch, Arend Borst, Jaroslav Tupec, Martin Rajsner, Massimo
Verardi, Carl Strautins, Hiroyuki Sakai and Roy Dor - would have been
exactly in the same order! Other years that would not happen. This
year’s flyoff weather gave wide point margins, outstripping point
differences in the preliminaries.
For spectator excitement, tricky conditions where 15 minutes cannot be
flown out every slot, are best.
Biggest bouquet for F3J WC 2006 goes to Jaroslav Kostan, the contest
director and his assistant on the microphone and scorer, Patrik Michnac.
They would also include the Italian software, signals and timing system
which ran so efficiently.
Everyone who took part would also thank the team of organisers,
timekeepers and helpers who made the Martin world championships truly
memorable. They were ever helpful with time to spare for everyone on the
airport, pilots, helpers, spectators and friends, even when rain and
The town of Martin was involved too, hundreds turned up for the opening
and closing ceremonies, plenty of locals came to the airfield the first
weekend to see what was going on, the town was plastered with
advertisements and leaflets about F3J. The supportive mayor came every
day to watch and shake hands.
Also thanks to the aeroclub of Martin for sharing one of the most
beautiful flying sites anywhere in the world, surrounded by handsome
hills and mountains, too far away to allow slope flying but certainly
influencing the air and storm patterns.
I wish the weather had been sunnier a bit longer, but when it was, it
was really hot and you needed lots of water. Promised sunny and stable
weather between 25 and 35 degrees C, you only got that if you turned up
for training early and for the first day of the Martin Cup. For the
championships we got variable cloud, calm to squally winds, a few
interruptions for rain and temperatures between 18 and 25 degrees C. It
was warmer and more stable in London that week.
Big bouquet goes to the Feigl family. Peter Feigl went home to just
south of Munich as manager of the winning German team, Benedikt Feigl
went home with second place in the juniors, and Sebastian Feigl
celebrated with second place in the seniors. Which family anywhere can
Another bouquet for the best flight - in my view - of the week. One of
the early round flights saw Arend Borst snapping off the line early, not
deliberately this time, at a height of maybe 25 metres. Not too
disastrous if he’d come for a quick relaunch, but as he turned back, the
air looked kinder than it had been all morning.
For five minutes he nursed his Supra around the same spot of air above
the spectator enclosure, never climbing more than a metre, amazingly
never dropping more a metre, ever having to drift back a bit, or
forwards, or to either side. Such flights make me marvel. You could see
the wingtip waver slightly as the kinder air shifted, but every shift of
the slow circling invited loss of height and a relaunch. Arend flew the
slot out for his 1000, only reaching towline height in the last minute
300 metres away in comfortable lift.
Arend also gets my prize for “most ruthlessly competitive flyer” with
his Supras and “Supracon” - a Supra with Icon wing. His models weighed
in at 1600, 1700 and 2000 gms, and in the wing panels, the Volz servos
have their cases removed before fixing. “I found I could save 20 gms by
fixing them in ply, and decided that’s worth having.”
There was only one team managers’ meeting, the night before the
competition started, and no protests during the week for the jury. There
were a few moans about overflights, launches on the safety line or
outside, and other oddities. The sound system on site was first class,
and even the towmen down the line could hear clearly. Inevitably the
distance travelled by sound signals gave the appearance of pilots
landing late, and I saw a couple which were certainly late but not
penalised. At the managers briefing it was clarified that the
independent timekeepers’ would judge not only time, but whether the
flight launched early, overflew or if the model had touched anyone on
All the official timekeepers were F3J flyers, but that did not make it
easy to communicate quickly. When one pilot deliberately touched down
before the end signal then bounced on to land close to the spot, he was
adjudged to have overflown. Another pilot launched early, thought he’s
got away with it because the timekeeper did not tell him, only to have
the contest director inform him 60 seconds into the flight to relaunch.
But overall, the timekeepers were super. Who has the stamina and
dedication to spend eight days on duty? No system can ever be 100%
One interesting aside from a jury discussion: team managers were asked
to stress to their pilots that they should launch with both feet in the
safety corridor. Then one pilot launched with one foot on the line if
not over it. When questioned, the timekeeper reckoned that the foot had
gone over the line after the model left his hands. That decision was
accepted with no protest. But the jury did discuss the matter informally
and concluded that even if the launcher had had one foot outside the
corridor, they would not have penalised him. Why?
FAI juries are reluctant to penalise any competitor. If a jury decision
would mean a penalty, then they look not only at the rule concerned but
also the reason why the rule was written. The safety corridor, for
example, is in the rules to provide a measure of safety to everyone on
the line at that time. It defines a launch area and tries to prevent
gliders flying less than three metres above any person or object in it.
Since a launcher, allowing one foot to stray onto or over the line, is
not jeopardising anyone’s safety and he is unlikely to be penalised.
Juries are not in the business of attracting protests, but when contests
are won and lost by margins far smaller than 100 points, managers would
do well sometimes to seek sympathetic help from the contest director or
One of Simon Jackson’s flights landed hard on the 100, jamming a wing
flap with the servo buzzing loudly. Spotter Phil Jackson had a moment of
madness and jiggled the flap to free the servo. The timekeeper awarded a
zero landing although the model had not been moved. The UK team was
upset, but no protest was made.
Next day, another pilot speared hard into the ground close to the spot,
breaking his flap and the fuselage. Before the landing had been measured
by the timekeeper, the pilot freed the model out of the ground to check
for further damage. He got his 100 points because the timekeeper had
seen where the landing was - a hole in the ground - and there was no
need to measure that it was within a metre.
Again, it is often the spirit of the rules which counts, and not always
what is written. Team managers should remember that most juries are
reluctant to penalise any competitor unless a rule is deliberately
broken to gain unfair advantage or his action endangers safety.
The Russian team was welcomed to Martin, the first time that they had
competed in an international F3J contest. I enjoyed chatting over
breakfast with Alexander Volkov who works for an English speaking
company and flies from a field just outside Moscow. He reckons about
1,000 pilots fly F3J in the whole of Russia, in several regions of the
country, some 5,000 km apart. Rarely do many flyers come together to
compete. He does not find it easy to get F3J models and does not know of
any home-produced moulded models as yet. Two of the juniors were flying
built-up wings, and the seniors were flying prized imports such as Pikes
Alexander says his team was amazed by everything going on, and the team
had little idea of what to expect. The Martin Cup was a revelation,
where the team lost several models in crashes, missed flights because
they were not ready or were short of towers because they were out
looking for lost models. I saw some of them bargaining for models put up
for sale at the end of the contest.
2006 certainly proved to be a vintage year for new models. Soarers are
getting slightly bigger and lighter, wing sections allow higher zoom
launches. Pilots’ targets have increased too, not that there’s much
scope left for improvement. Line tensions seem to get higher, but there
were few line breaks.
None of the top pilots stay on the line for more than three or four
seconds, and two seconds is not unusual in thermals. Few pilots slide
the model in for landing, but the spearing seems gentler than
yesteryear. Many pilots wait to hear the “one” before hitting the spot,
and certainly half the pilots at Martin did this round after round,
windy or calm.
Indicative of tighter margins are the questions asked between pilots as
they return down the safety corridor after their flights. “How did you
do?” - “Only a 56 and missed the landing,” might be the reply. That’s
shorthand for 9 minutes 56.?? seconds and 95 landing. Nowadays more
pilots talk of 55 and above rather than 55 and below.
I did not count the top models, but I would guess that the Vostrels had
produced enough Pike Perfects to make that the most popular. Priority in
the production queue had been given to WC pilots, some of them getting
one model a couple of weeks before the champs.
Vladimir Gavrylko from Ukraine had produced enough Supras to run the
Perfect close, and this model opened up many eyes including mine to its
potential. Despite it light weight and frail appearance it whizzes up
the line, its wings may bend a lot, but with a now stronger spar and
lay-up they don’t break. The Supra certainly floats when needed.
I found it interesting that Tom Kiesling chose to register three Supras,
all bagged home-produced versions, although he did have a moulded
commercial version from Kennedy Composites. He reckoned that he was more
used to his own planes and could land them more accurately. For his
moulded Supra he still bags his own tailplane and fin because of weight.
Mibo’s Shadow, the bigger Xperience, was there in numbers too. British
pilot Austin Guerrier had two which he used to get the top Brit spot.
Simon Jackson and his dad bought and built a V-tail Shadow overnight,
gave it four test flights and then flew it throughout the champs. Phil
has lots of stories about how Simon drew with Joe Wurts and how his
first flight got 1,000!
There were plenty of Espadas too, produced in Slovakia by Jaro Muller,
and flown by pilots from neighbouring countries, Russia and USA. The RL
version seems to fly much better than the R version, and Espadas took
prizes in the Martin Cup and the junior flyoffs.
There was an array of one-off specials, a few Icons, Sharons, Pike
Superiors and Europhias. Models are getting better, capable of
performing over a wider range of weather conditions. Martin showed once
more that the pilot rather more than the model counts in the end!
Few of my predictions for Martin proved successful, and although I treat
them as a bit of fun, there are those who see them as a challenge. Skip
Miller was pleased that the American teams were not rated: “That spurs
us on,” he reckoned and indeed both US teams did well.
Cor de Jong from Holland said he was pleased before the contest to be
included in my flyoff shortlist, and he was in with a good chance until
rounds 10 and 11. Then he cracked under the pressure of expectation, or
so he reckoned with a smile. I was very pleased to see Roy Dor scraping
into the flyoff, he saw his shortlisted name as an extra challenge, and
the Israeli team did well again to take fifth team place. One of their
towmen was due back home on Monday straight into the army, and all the
others were reservists - a sobering thought.
Worst prediction was the weather. Enough said.
I chose 16 senior pilots for the flyoff, and seven made it. Philip Kolb
nearly did, but if he had, then Sebastian would not have been in.
Biggest omission I admit was David Hobby, and I haven’t bought him a
beer yet to make up! Other predictions or hints are best forgotten. I
shall need to recover my courage before making any guesses next year!
Finally, in Prospects gossip I wondered where Ben Clerx had got to. He
answered and sent some nice pics. He coached Casey Adamczyk a couple of
weeks before the WCs, he races a full size ASW 28, flies a Boeing 777
professionally, teaches aerobatics and formation flying with an Extra
300L. Aside from that he hopes to make the US F3J team 2008. Wow!
Sydney Lenssen. August 2006
F3J WORLD CHAMPS 2006, MARTIN, SLOVAKIA
PROSPECTS GOSSIP COLUMN
/bigger>/bigger>/bigger>by Uncle Sydney
Dateline: JULY 2006
Wurts, Kohout, Borst, Hobby, Upton, Corfu, Lappeenranta, Red Deer - all
are champions or places of previous F3J world championships - soon to be
followed by Martin and who? At the end of this month, 88 senior and 41
junior pilots, cream of the model soaring world, will gather in Slovakia
to do their best against each other with their latest “pride and joy”,
trannie thumbs and fingers and thermal sniffing talents, to decide
another champion. Sadly one previous winner, Jan Kohout, won’t be
competing as he’s not in the Czech team, but I hope he will come. Who
wouldn’t bet that 2006 might see the first F3J champion to be crowned
Good authority, no less than maestro Jaro Muller, says that Martin’s
airfield will provide the perfect flying site; that the Slovak National
Aeroclub of General M.R.Stefanik, the Model Union of Slovakia and the RC
Model Club Martin, led by contest director Jaroslav Kostan, will lay on
perfect arrangements; and the 2006 world championships will be the best
Martin itself, a jewel of Slovakia’s tourism, is squeezed between
National Parks and on the Turiec River. It centres on the country’s main
north-south, east-west routes, and more importantly, it brews strong
beer and sparkling gossip to fill the F3J 2006 WC Marquee in the town
square each night. Weather should be sunny and stable, between 25 and 35
degrees C. But as all thermal soarers know, forecasters and weather
records mean nothing as you wait for the countdown to working time with
What’s in store?
Year 2006 seems vintage for new models. The last two WCs had a
sprinkling of significant advances, but not the pivotal designs which
set everyone talking. Truth is that any one of today’s top dozen F3J
designs can be flown to win by a good pilot. Recent dominant models have
been Pike Superior and HKM Sharon.
This year we shall see the new Pike Perfect, Vision and Shadow,
Xperience Pro, Supra, Espada and perhaps something different from
Russia. Those we know originated last year or earlier, but this time
they are competing seriously. Will they overtake the established
Samba, the Vostrel family and Philip Kolb have invested more time and
promotion in the Pike Perfect than any other model to date, with full
accounts of how wing shapes and profiles were determined, graphs and
charts, with Philip setting the criteria needed by future top pilots.
The Vostrels are determined to stay ahead, labour cost advantages are
slipping away and victorious models are the only answer.
Those lucky pilots who got early production models have already competed,
not always successfully, with the new bigger better Pike. The Samba
waiting list is reputedly well into next year. I am confident that the
Perfect will outperform the Superior eventually, but results have not
been convincing as yet.
Hottest new models stem from Bogo and Nikolay - Bogo Stempihar of Mibo
Modeli in Slovenia and Nikolay Nikolov of NAN Models in Bulgaria - with
their Vision, Xperience and Shadow range. For those who don’t know,
Bulgaria is a cheaper place today to mould quality models. Mibo, after
several years working with Graupner making Soarmasters and other models,
got together with the Slovenian team and Dr Helmut Quabeck to design the
next generation of high performance gliders. Bogo and Nikolay work
The new Shadow is simply a larger version of Xperience and first
appeared in Italy this April. Bogo thought that a larger wingspan might
be needed, and perhaps feared the bigger Pike Perfect. But this season’s
question is which of the two, Vision or Xperience, will prove best.
In Forli, Tony Vale and I as two sole Brits were lucky enough to fly
with the Feigl family in the “Bavarian Eagles” team, the whole team
reaching the flyoff except for me! Sebastian was flying the Xperience
and Benedikt the Vision. Both of them had assured flyoff places with one
round still to fly, so they challenged each other to launch in less than
two seconds. Both got 9 minutes 58 seconds plus after launches barely
Their opinions of the models: both great launchers with fantastic zooms,
Vision with its HQW2,5 and HQW 3,0 at the tips is gentler and easier to
trim and fly, but the Xperience with its HN350s aerofoil is more agile
and exciting. Latest news is that Benedikt has switched to match his
brother; I’ve still to find out why.
Really surprising is that both models have become prime choice of many
pilots around the world so quickly. Good websites and detailed
descriptions of the models, as created by Samba and Mibo, pay dividends.
Another international cooperation is the Supra. I have yet to feel and
fondle the fully moulded model produced by Volodymyr Gavrylko from the
Ukraine, based on a design by Dr Mark Drela of aerofoil research and hlg
fame, and sold exclusively by Kennedy Composites in the USA. I did see
Tom Kiesling flying an early hand-made vacuum-pressed Supra in Red Deer
at the WCs and in Istanbul where he topped the qualifiying rounds. In
the meantime Tom had won the US team qualifying contest, beating Joe
Wurts, and he will be a strong contender in Martin. Others from Ukraine
and elsewhere will also be sporting Supras.
Again I have yet to be convinced. Supra looks a gawky beast, an
overgrown chuckie, which is what it is and maybe that’s the secret of
its success. When I see Tom almost stalling at low level over the trees,
500m from home, and then he comes home three minutes later with barely
two metres height and 100m to go, and blow me he lands on the spot, then
obviously appearance and flying style matter little.
This will be the first WCs to feature Jaro Muller’s Espada, available in
a smaller 3.2m version and the extended 3.7m wing. Skip Miller has been
testing for the past year, but I’ve yet to see him fly it in anger. I
have been flying mine for nearly six months, and do not find it as easy
as my Pike. But it is a thoroughbred lightweight stallion, and in the
right hands can out-thermal anything I’ve seen, as well as travelling
distances fast from one side of the sky to the other.
Another new model to F3J, but not so plentiful, is the Europhia,
designed by Martin Weberschock from Germany. UK’s Tony Vale will take
three of these, all home built, and that in itself is worth some award.
Tony and his friend Nuno Canteiro spent a week in Spring 2005 on a
moulding course run by Martin, a fun and highly educational exercise
which ended up with a set of moulds and enough skills and confidence to
create their own models.
Starting with an out-and-out F3B model, Tony has a 1.7kg version plus
two slightly heavier Europhias which out-launch anything I’ve seen to
date. In Martin he will also have two “Tarzan” towers. Only doubt which
still lingers is what happens in the last slot of the day when all the
air has gone dead.
New model question marks hang over what the Russian team will bring,
will they be something different, will the pilots be playing with
established designs, or indeed will they turn up? For the last two
champs, they did not. But this time they have paid their entry fees, so
there is hope.
Finally, will we see Lubos Pazderka’s new Aspire with its AH 141-3 and
141-4 aerofoils? That would be a treat.
Listing the teams alphabetically, Australia will feature four
pilots, David Hobby competing to retain his title after what must seem
to him and his supporters disappointing performances since Red Deer.
David lives a most hectic life-style, jetting world-wide in his
professional role, squeezing in time for house-building and flying his
toys. May your Red Deer stars be with you once more!
Aussie manager is Matthew Wood and the team is Carl Strautins again,
Mike O’Reilly, primarily famed for F3B exploits and model importing, and
Matt Partlet. They are backed by the usual hefty muscle-bound towers. No
bets on this team, but worth a flyoff place. As in football, rugby,
tennis and cricket, they are tenacious when representing the nation.
Out of the blue this winter I was visited by Carl on his way back home
from Spain, calling into London to pick up some goodies. We had a super
few hours, a hasty tasty lunch with Austin Guerrier and my wife, and a
quick fly with an untrimmed Espada. He’s got a statistically based guide
to launching, when to ping off to maximise point scores in all possible
conditions. He will show it to you in Martin and next time I listen,
I’ll stay off the wine.
Belgium is back again and confident, but they have not been
travelling much, didn’t make Interglide and Eurotour results bode ill.
Gunther Cuypers is TM, leading David Cleays, Tom Mertens and Chris
Gyssens, and single junior Bram Druyts. Perhaps they have been saving
themselves for the big one.
Brazil is one of my favourite teams, they have zoom zoom zoom and
they design by far the best WC shirts! Mario S.de Lucca is lead pilot
and manager, Leonardo Greggio and Marion Luz, and Marco Fracao is the
sole junior.There has been talk of holding an F3J champs in Brazil, a
super prospect. I shall be hoping that the F3J team does better than
their renowned footballers and returns home with a prize.
Bulgaria is a new centre of model manufacturing excellence and
the man responsible is Nikolay Nikolov, in Martin to manage the team.
Pilots have yet to fly at highest levels, but I wish Sotir Lazarkov a
luckier time than in Osijek, and Plamen Vasilev and Konstantin Ranov an
enjoyable contest with plenty of 1000’s.
Canada has Kevin Hanson as TM and helper Ryan Cartmell. Arend
Borst who triumphed in Finland will be trying his best to get a second
title, joined by pilots Rolf Oetter and Jo Fitz-james. They are also
fanatical competitors. Arend dropped me a nice note, and is likely to be
flying a Supra and an Icon wing on a Supra fuselage. He was deflated
after Red Deer for all sorts of reasons and gave up F3J for awhile. But
his lifelong hobby got the better, he’s had 30 years of RC soaring, and
he’s back. That will please all.
Croatia has a full junior and senior team managed by Damir Kosir.
Josip Hucaljuk and Arijan Hucaljuk will fly both as juniors and seniors.
They breed soaring expertise young in this country. Andrej Potocki Mance
is the third junior and the ever competitive Damir Kmoch is the lead
senior. He topped the qualifying rounds last year in the European
Champs, but he’s only flown one Eurotour so far this year.
Another nation whose form is below par so far is the Czech Republic
- (soon to be called Czechia). Jaroslav Tupec from the senior team has
won two flyoff places in the Eurotour and is 14th, Jan Kohout is not in
the team but lies sixth in Eurotour, Martin Rajsner is currently ninth
after two flyoff places and Michal Vagner is way below with only one
Jiri’s son Tomas Tuma is a junior again along with Tomas Kadlec and
Martin Grmela. To me they are a team capable of challenging the German
juniors, although perhaps Croatia will also offer surprises.
Denmark has three seniors, Klaus Christiansen, Ole Blomseth and
Poul Moller and sadly no juniors. Klaus and Ole were in Red Deer and
must be hoping to do better this time.
Finland, as has become usual, has a single pilot, the ever
faithful and enthusiastic Jann Savolainen. He will team with the Brits
again, his wife is always a good supporter. Will his sister make it to
France has got flair this year and will certainly do better than
WC2004. I’m told they had perfect weather for their Arbois Eurotour,
they brought it with them to England for Interglide. Team manager is the
cheerful charmer Luc Bocquet and their most experienced flyer is Lionel
Fournier, set to fly Xperience and Shadow, perhaps Vision. Bertrand
Wilmot, last year’s French champion has a Pike Perfect, Vision and Scar
for windy conditions. Patrick Elliot was a towman last year in Osijek
and this year pilots a Perfect or Sharon.
The French junior team is Florian Bocquet and Jerome Leprovost, and the
five team helpers include Yann Bocquet who will spot for Lionel. The
three Bocquets will make merry, I am sure.
Germany has four seniors competing, with Thomas Fischer, the
current world junior champ flying with the seniors. After a poor season
last year, my crystal ball shows him as a wild card for Martin. The
senior team is Philip Kolb, current European champion, Perfect meister,
and second so far in 2006 Eurotour. Then Karl Hinsch, owner of F3J’s
oldest hat, past Eurotour champion from year dot, and still more likely
than not to win a flyoff place. And Sebastian Feigl flying with
experience beyond his years and Xperiences.
The German juniors are managed again by Reinhard Dexterous Vallant. They
could take on most senior national teams and triumph. They are Benedikt
Feigl, Dominik Helminger and Oliver Ladach. I try not to forecast junior
winners, but which team can beat these three to take the junior team
title from Germany?
Senior TM is Peter Feigl, his first time, and his style is just as
thorough as his predecessors. More than likely than not, we shall see a
“Feigl-fest” again on the podium before leaving Martin. As is normal,
Peter has had them out training several times, the team has been
featured in German newspapers and model magazines. Another clue to
success is that all reports detail the whole team, towers and helpers,
all named and an integral part of the effort needed to be consistently
on top of all factors. But I can’t bet on favourites, so I shall need to
choose another senior team.
Holland will surely haul itself up the success scales this year,
led by my friend of long standing Jos Kleuskens. He will speed up his
pacemaker if anyone on the team doesn’t behave. Lesley Van de Laan is
sole junior, and if he flies like last year he will surely reach the
flyoffs. Cor de Jong, Karel van Baalen and Frank van Melick form the
senior team, all experienced men determined to recover the F3J former
glories of Alex Hoekstra et al. Holland is a country steeped in F3J
involvement and enthusiasm and surely deserve a winner.
Hungary is a puzzle, never quite living up to its long
aeronautical and freeflight traditions. No juniors this time, Andras
Szeri doubling up as TM and pilot, and he will be joined by Gyorgy
Dobraszky and Endre Voros. I wish them luck and Andres certainly did
well at Kiskunfeleg.
If you want to bet on gritty pilots with faith in their ability to win,
then look no further than Israel, Roy Dor doubling as pilot and
TM, Uri De-Swaan and Eldad Manheim, their most experienced championship
team yet. Last year they made fifth in the team rankings, this year they
want at least two in the flyoffs.
The Israeli pilots train on a hard field close to the sea, flat light
thermals, strong winds at times and they are hoping for the gusty winds
which undid them in Osijek. They will be a Pike team, mainly modified
Superiors and they have one Perfect, yet to be fully perfected. The
newer Superiors are all cross-tailed, but with lighter built-up
tailplanes, saving 20 grams by covering in Icarex and 60 grams overall.
They have promised to bring their own motor oil. Last year Tomas
Bartovsky and I stayed in the same apartments as the Israeli team where
breakfast was served up with Valvoline, in reality plum brandy, more and
more of which was consumed as the contest days went on. The jokes became
randier with each day and the flying improved I am told. This year I
shall stick with Becherovka, the local pick-you-up and throw-you down!
Come to think of it, that’s what I need with this writing, ploughing
through all my notes and results tables.
Italy has knocked out Germany in the semi-finals of football’s
World Cup after a match of rare qualities. Can they bring the same flair
to F3J? Giuseppe Generali leads as TM with his son shy smiling Marco
again flying juniors. Thomas Truffo and Filippo Gallizia make up the
full junior team, the same as at Red Deer where they placed fourth. Only
thee places to climb and Marco and Filippo are placed 18th and 20th in
2006 Eurotour at this time!
Italian seniors are also well known, Marco Salvigni, Claudio Zavagno and
Massimo Verardi, and they’ve been Eurotouring seriously with Marco in
11th place, and Massimo winning at Forli. They will certainly climb far
higher than in Red Deer - serious contenders if they keep their cool.
Japan always bring an exotic element to WCs, their ladies
producing origami designs and tasty meals, the men flying half-size hlgs
which fascinate. I shall be sorry not to see Syuhei Okamoto, Red Deer’s
unluckiest pilot who missed the flyoff with an overflight which wasn’t
necessary. But we shall see Yoshihro Ouno who is TM and pilot and
Yoshihiro Kurita again and newcomer Hiroyuki Sakai.
Lithuania will be world champing for the first time I believe,
and they did well in Croatia. Ricardas Siumbris has managed to get to
Holic and Podhorany this year and hopefully will not have his glider
shot out of the air this time. He is joined by old hands Gintaras
Kuckailis and Valdas Braziunas and junior Adomas Sutkus.
The effervescent irrepressable Jo Grini is the most experienced of the
Norway team and came second last month in Podhorany. He will be
flying Pike Perfect, but his biggest scoop is recruiting Samba’s Jane
Vostrelova as team helper, sure to quicken the heartbeats along the
start-line. Aril Rosvik and Alf Erik Ross are senior pilots with Alf
Magne Andreassen as TM. With luck there’s a flyoff place here.
Sadly Poland did not make Canada, but Martin will see a full
senior and junior team, led by Mieczyslaw Slowik TM and pilot,
Aleksander Laskowski and Krysztof Stasiak, plus junior Wojciech Byrski,
Bartlomiej Kiepas and Bartosz Stoltny. There’s a nation with
aeronautical roots which has yet to transfer to the F3J world, but maybe
this year it will.
Romania, venue for so many FAI contests and fast developing, is
unusual in having a full junior team, Andrei Nemes, Cristian Nemes and
Norbert Scarlat, and only one senior pilot, Cristinel Serban. Dorin
Scarlat will be manager and I wish them tons of good air!
If Russia turns up they wll have full teams, Dmitry Statkevisch,
Ildar Sultanov and Alexander Volkov as seniors are led by TM Alexey
Schegolev. and the junior team is Dmitry Gashnev, Mihail Lobov and
Evgeny Shurygin. If all is well this could be a big treat for everyone
at Martin. Have they got the measure of the sort of flying which
triumphs at this level?
Slovenia has teams which are still blossoming in talent, and to
me seem certain to climb higher than in Canada and Croatia. Primoz
Prhavc again doubles as TM and pilot, and he is joined by Primoz Rizner,
inspiration for Vision, and Nejc Bozic. The juniors are newcomers, Jan
Hlastec, Jure Marc and Robert Ratajc. I expect to see both teams on the
podium, for flying in Martin is not so far different from home.
Slovakian pilots will be at home, in a land which has many flying
sites and a long reputation in all forms of glider flying. Will the home
base be an advantage, or will hosting duties distract? Jaro Muller as
ever leads as TM, with Juraj Adamek, Jan Ivancik and Pavol Vasicek as
very senior team and Jan Littva, Daniel Demecko and Martin Gorok as
juniors. F3J contests are not really spectator sports, and you cannot
rely on home crowds cheering the local teams on. But many at Martin will
surely hope for something special this year. I see Juraj giving them
that together with one of the juniors.
Biggest treat from South Africa is the expectation that the
Goodrums will be bringing their 18(?) month old first born, the best
mascot of all. Michelle will not be flying - in the contest - but is TM,
leading husband Craig, Mark Stockton and Chris Adrian. Congratulations
are also due: even with that long journey, South Africa has three
juniors, Conrad Klintworth, Kurt Stockton and Simon Tladi. What treat it
would be to have an F3JWC in their country, and with luck their reults
this year could provide the motivation.
Sweden returns to the fold with a three person team, Lennart
Andersson, Antero and Christina Hurtig. Sorry but I have no track record
to report, but enjoy Martin and exceed your expectations!
Switzerland has a core of regular and successful pilots, they
travel widely and keenly, they have the same team as at Red Deer in
Gusti Bieli, Reto Baumgartner and Konrad Oetiker where they placed
fifth. Led by TM Robert Cames they also must be hoping for improvement,
but I don’t see it for all their dedication. I do hope to be proved
On to upstarts Team Turkey, the Flying Circus of F3J, the
phenomenon of Istanbul Soarists, worthy hosts for the next world
championships in 2008. Against all odds they claimed second place in
Canada and deserved it. Gentle Giant Serdar Cumbus will again be TM,
coach will be Thomas Rossner, returning after a year managing Germany.
And again the established team of Murat Esibatir, Ilgaz Kalaycioglu and
“phone-in-the-ear, I‘m in a field” Mustafa Koc. They will be joined by
junior Ali Ersu. No predictions here: all I know is that every contest
and championship is enriched by the zest of the Turks and the comforts
It’s a Gavrylko team from Ukraine, with father Volodymyr and son
Yuriy Gavrylko as senior and junior, and Volodymyr Makarov and Dmytro
Kharlamov making up the seniors. My guess is that they will all fly
Supras. Whether they can get them to fly as well as Tom from USA is more
doubtful. Maybe we shall also see a return of the AVA.
Let noone forget the contribution that Volodymyr has made to F3J flying
in most parts of the world with his range of high-tec models over the
years. He is still a young man, and much of time recently has been spent
at business school. I am not sure yet how wise it is to be so attached
to supplying the US market, but we shall see.
Team United Kingdom comes well down the alphabetical order, but
in reality it is team Essex and Yorkshire. Tony Guerrier, brother of
Austin, will be TM, with Austin Guerrier, last year’s TM as pilot this
time, Tony Vale and Simon Jackson. Models will be Xperiences, Europhias
and Stratos’s and hopes are bubblingly high. I cannot possibly comment,
but Austin has been on flyoff form each contest this year, Tony has made
several flyoffs but missed at Interglide where he was running the event
with Graham Wicks. Simon is UK’s most experienced pilot at championship
level, he’s a leader again in this year’s UK league, but he has yet to
crack international form. They have my support, big hopes and best
Finally USA, with full teams, back on the Europe circuit, led by
a new TM Jim Monaco and with a formidable list of helpers. No new names
to report with seniors Skip Miller, Joe Wurts and Tom Kiesling. Junior
team is Cody Remington, Joseph Newcomb and Casey Adamcyzk (Are the dads
I am intrigued to know what Skip, F3B world champion from yesteryear,
will fly. He was testing his Espada in Istanbul last time we met, and he
found that the best CG position in Colorado had to be moved forward
nearly 10 mm to cope with European air. He’s also model trading along
with his garage workshop business and he could pick from Pikes and
others when in Martin. He will be supported by Dusty, his son, junior at
the first Upton WCs, and last year placing fourth in the US team trials.
Tom almost certainly will be choosing to fly Supra, and the only
intrique is whether he has updated to the moulded wing or stuck with
bagged blue-foam. Can he maintain the form which saw him beat Joe in the
All the upbeat publicity from Kennedy Composites which features Joe
Wurts cuddling a green Supra had most of us assuming he was switching
from his Icon, which I guess is what was intended. But my spies tell me
that Joe will fly his faithful Icons. Joe himself wonders if that
design, now six years old, will manage to stay in contention, but that
can only be modesty. He is eager as ever for the grand battle ahead, and
he wonders if Philip’s Perfect can triumph or if Dave Hobby can work the
magic once more.
This year I am more than reluctant to name the winners, but I appreciate
from many kind messages that that is what many readers are waiting for.
Few would plough through all this gossip unless they were betting too.
My senior flyoff “guess list” is ten from the following: Carl Strautins,
Arend Borst, Damir Kmoch, Jaroslav Tupec, Lionel Fournier, Sebastian
Feigl, Philip Kolb, Cor de Jong, Roy Dor, Massimo Verardi, Jo Grini,
Primoz Rizner, Nejc Bozic, Juraj Adamek, Tony Vale and Joe Wurts. They
cannot all make it, maybe none of them will, but I find it hard to chop
six from that list. By 4/5 August we shall know.
The winner and 2006 champion: my bet is on Primoz Rizner. He is on form,
he has all the calm qualities, quiet confidence and skills needed, and
he did not win, as I predicted he would, in Croatia 2005. In 2004 I bet
that Philip Kolb would be champion in Canada and he made me wait a year
for the EuroChamps. So the Primoz choice is following precedent.
Junior team prize should go to Germany, but with luck it will all be
much closer than in Canada. Senior team will be Slovenia, just pipping
Germany and hosts Slovakia. Do not put too much money on it!
Whatever turns up, let us wish for fine weather, tricky conditions for
the flyoffs, and the usual friendly spirit of international goodwill
every day of the week.
This year’s Eurotour contests have been more closely fought than ever.
To get into the top ten in the 14 international competitions, and this
year so far 329 flyers have flown in at least one, you need to score
more than 100%. (For those who don’t know, you pick up extra flyoff
points if you are placed in the top five).
Philip Kolb, for instance, scored 103 in Istanbul and 102 at Osijek. But
that’s not enough because Primoz Risner scored 101.90 in Forli, 102.71
at Osijek and 102 in Kiskunfeleg, and leads so far this year with four
more contests to fly. I can see that soon the winner will need a first
or second place in three fly-offs as well as winning the preliminary
rounds. Before then perhaps, Contest Eurotour will have moved to “best
four contests” from the 14 rather than best three.
Nice question is: which is the harder to win, an FAI world or european
title, or one of the Eurotour events?
Might sound an obvious question at first, but the fact remains that
several of the big Eurotours - Holland, Germany and Czech Republic -
each year attract more entries than FAI championships which are
restricted to three flyers from each country. It is easier to win a
contest with 60 flyers than one with 130.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Germany could field 12 competitors,
the Czechs 10, the Slovaks 8, the Slovenians 6, all of whom would be
able to fly with a strong chance of winning. In UK, out of the 50 pilots
who now compete for team places, only perhaps eight really stand a
chance of securing a place. Then you need flawless form to win a
championship flyoff place. Yet we all believe it can happen!
Biggest attraction of the world champs is that you get the Americans,
Canadians, Brazilians, Aussies, Japanese and South Africans, and with
luck the Russians and others. This adds a special spice. Three of the
four world champions so far show that the rest of the world often wins,
despite Europe’s busier contest scene.
There is an enormous variation from country to country in how easy it is
to gain a national team place, for seniors and juniors. What is puzzling
is that the level of performance does not seem to relate to the
difficulty in winning a place. Arend Borst, Joe Wurts and Carl
Strautins, either of the Goodrums reliably top the modest number of
national rivals at home, and then turn up on the world stage equally
likely to win as those who have had to beat a hundred others.
An aside before passing on: any pilot from any country can enter Contest
Eurotour. It is open providing you are FAI licensed and pay your entry
fee. Remember Ben Clerx, an US airline pilot, who used to fly regularly
and do well. Where are you now Ben?
FAI jury for Martin’s champs will be led again by Tomas Bartovsky.
Raymond Pavan should be there from Luxemburg, and Germany’s CIAM
vice-president Gerhard Wobbeking.
Gerd saw his first F3J championship in Osijek last year, marvelled at
the thermalling on display, and was amazed that all the models came
back. For he is a free flight man, enthusiastic promoter of
aeromodelling youth, and designer of easy-to-build high performance
models. He infected me again with a wish to chuck up a glider or rubber
model and follow it downwind, praying that the dethermaliser works.
So I spent a day at the UK freeflight champs at Barkston Heath in May
where Gerd competes each year. The winds were strong, even for Britain,
and many models flew outside the airbase even with a 2.5 minute maximum
declared for the day. Competitors cycled and trotted down the runway,
time and time again. No way that I could ever do three rounds or more.
The average age of the flyers, I swear, was 10 years or more older than
the typical F3J crowd. Freeflighters are a truly hardy lot.
The same day at Barkston, I met an old friend Steve Harvey, who sadly
suffered a stroke a couple of year ago. He’s better and back again
flying freeflight vintage power and indoor scale. Why mention Steve
Harvey? He was one of the early RC soarers who pioneered F3J, helping
with the early rules and the first Eurotour events in the early 1990s,
not so long ago. He and his friend were the first to import moulded
ready-built soarers into the UK from Czechoslovakia as it then was.
Remember the Thermic series by Valenta!
His friend? He was the one and only Neil Webb, another F3J originator,
who died from a heart attack only hours after winning the French F3J
Eurotour in 1995. The next F3J world champion will take home the huge
and delicate Neil Webb trophy as his prize, a real handful to transport
around the globe.
Why tell this story? All models which fly, whatever your particular
preference at any time, continue to hold an indefinable fascination for
aeromodellers, from their earliest years until the end. Let’s all be
pleased that we are privileged and lucky to share this hobby/sport.
Sydney Lenssen. July 2006
sydney.lenssen (@) virgin.net