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 down under!

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 the others.

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.

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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 winds threatened.

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 match that!

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.”

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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 landing.

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% perfect.


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 jury.

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.

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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 and Espadas.

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.

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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!

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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
sydney.lenssen@virgin.net

 

F3J WORLD CHAMPS 2006, MARTIN, SLOVAKIA
PROSPECTS GOSSIP COLUMN
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 twice?

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 ever.

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 line tensioned.

What’s in store?

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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 reputations?

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 closely.

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 30m high.

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.

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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 contest.

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 Slovakia?

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 wrong.

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 of Semin!

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 wishes.

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 coming too?).

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 trials?

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.

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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?

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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