Oncle Sydney’s Gossip Column


Seventh F3J World Championships 2010


France welcomes 29 FAI countries to Dole-Tavaux


“Allons! Enfants de la Patrie!

Le jour de gloire est arrive!”


As the Federation Francaise d’AeroModelisme prepares to welcome 130 plus of the world’s top F3J pilots to Dole-Tavaux in the Jura Department at the end of July, nobody knows if the day of glory will arrive on the podium for the French pilots or teams. One matter is sure. Bruno Delor, FFAM president, and Stephane Champanet, contest director, together with their legion of helpers will be ready to make the 7th world champs into a festival of pilot skills and a contest of fun, fine food and wine and excitement.


The graduated landing tape, introduced only two years ago to separate the tight margins between pilots, has instead boosted  competitive determinations. Contests in 2010 to date  have shown that winning slot times now need to better 9:54 minutes and only landings of 98 or more might secure the targeted 1,000 points. August weather in Jura promises to be warm and thermally most of the time, which will encourage top pilots to go for two-second launches even in preliminary rounds. I have seen several one-second launches - no not two-second - in this year’s Eurotour flyoffs and the model is released almost horizontally to gain speed not height.


Don’t expect to see many new models, although there will be new wings and extended tip panels. Most of the established F3J sailplane manufacturers have honed their models to such finely tuned performance that it takes some rotten weather, a slight slip or error to miss flying out 10-minute slots. My hope is that some rounds, perhaps early morning, late evening or after the odd storm, will present harsher challenges and rock the form book.


Regular Gossipers know that the pre-FAI contest column gives predictions on senior flyoff places, new champions and team winners. Many tell me that they first turn towards the end of the column to get these guesses. So to confuse, we’ll start with it! Don’t forget to make your own forecasts for flyoff places, let me have them before the contest starts, and he or she who gets most correct will get a prize! 


So in no particular order, my flyoff places go to Turkey’s Mustafa Koc on the assumption that his business priorities totally reduce for a week to allow him to concentrate 100%. He will be flying the new Prestige - about which more later. He could be joined by Murat Esibatir from the same Soarist Club. 


Juraj Adamek from Slovakia deserves a flyoff place for he’s been even hotter this season. Then France must surely gain a home country place and it should then be Lionel Fournier who led the field until the last hurdle in Poland last year. No slip ups this time please!


Arend Borst from Canada will be in France after the fracas prior to Turkey in 2008, this time with his son Simon as a junior pilot. They are still waiting for extra models at the time of writing, and it’s my view that Canada has the most simple yet difficult qualifying process to gain a team place. But Arend’s hugely competitive mindset, going back to freeflight days of his youth in Holland, will lead to a flyoff place.


After last year’s super Eurochamps in Wloclavek, it would be good to see a Polish pilot in the flyoffs and my bet goes on Wojciech Byrski who came fourth a couple of weeks ago in Osijeka.


Philip Kolb in the 2008 F3J WCs flyoffs, where yet
again the champion's place evaded Europe's most
successful pilot. Will 2010 Dole-Tavaux be the
end of his trail to win every top award?


Already double world champion, the 2010 F3J WCs in
France will give David Hobby and his teammates a chance
to pull off a third champion's medal. All indications are that
standards have reached an even higher plane, but
that's the challenge that David relishes.



Another list of long established expert and successful pilots cannot be ruled out, but some will need to be because there are too many. These are Jiri Duchan from the Czech Republic, Joe Wurts flying for the first time in the New Zealand F3J team, Philip Kolb, surely Europe’s most ofttimes winner but still waiting to be world champion. Also from Germany, Tobias Lammlein almost became champion in Turkey, David Hobby from Australia, already twice world champion and trained professionally as a reader and rider of air, and if I had to pick a wild card it would be Carl Strautins, another Aussie who can amaze on his day.


When Daryl Perkins flew for the first time in the Turkey F3J WCs, he was convinced that he’s missed the flyoffs two rounds from the end of the preliminaries. “That means I shall have to compete in 2010,” he told me, “I am determined to add another WC win to my record.” In fact he did get in simply because his team-mate Cody Remington blooped in the final round. Both pilots could easily make the French flyoffs, with Cody having had the edge in both the US team trials and last week’s team practice comp in the Rockies. Few F3J pilots will have put in more spot landing practice than these two in recent months - see Tube videos.


Other pilots who have successful track records such that you would expect to see them in the flyoffs are Craig Goodrum from South Africa, Ricardas Siumbrys from Lithuania, Primoz Rizner from Slovenia, last year’s European champion and prime adviser to Bulgaria’s NAN Models,  Marco Generali from Italy, Jo Grini from Norway and Sasa Pecina from Croatia.


But it’s not my job to just pick the easiest bets. I look for unlikely contenders in with a chance and these are Shuhei Okamoto from Japan returning to F3J WCs after having had to stay away due to public duties, Sotir Lazarkov who triumphed in Osijeka and is such an F3J mainstay in Bulgaria, Austin Guerrier from UK who assures me he will nail his landings when it counts. For sheer determination and dedication, I include Aleksandr Volkov from Russia. One Russian pilot travels 24 hours by train to reach his nearest airport, which is then 3 hours from Moscow, and then onwards to Lyon or Paris to reach Dole.


Primoz Rizner from Slovenia, already the current

European champion and set to help host next year's

Eurochamps in Bovec, will have an ambition to become world and european prizewinner. That's a tall order and that's what makes every FAI championship such a teaser of possibilities.


So far I have picked 20 plus pilots for possibly 12 places. 


Deep breath: my final list of flyoff places is: Mustafa Koc, Juraj Adamek, Lionel Fournier, Arend Borst, Tobias Lammlein, David Hobby, Craig Goodrum, Jiri Duchan, Cody Remington, Austin Guerrier, Primoz Rizner and Shuhei Okamoto.


Champion team this time will be Germany with USA second, and the next champion of the F3J world will be Cody.




On to team news: I try to contact all team managers a few days before this Gossip asking for latest information, although I know that for those who don’t read or write English, or for those who are immersed in work or preparations for France, it must be difficult. To those who replied, many thanks.


Saddest news is that all three Turkey juniors, Esra Koc, Ali Ersu and Cem Aktay, amongst the first to register, have been forced to withdraw, according to TM Serdar Cumbus, due to “Very difficult school exams.” What a pity that the education authorities don’t recognise the importance of FAI scheduling.  But I also applaud those junior F3J pilots still studying who place their hobby second to academic progress.


Turkey will have their usual senior team, Ilgaz “Doctor” Kalaycioglu, Murat Esibatir and Mustafa Koc. They want to fly the new Prestige produced in Turkey by Fineworx, the no-holds barred, no-expense spared F3J special which they hope will forge the way ahead in moulded models. Prestige was on public show for the first time at the Italian Lodi Eurotour, or at least the wing was on show. Fuselage, fin and tailplanes were still in the moulds and prototype wings were fitted to Pike Perfect bodies. Will this model prove to be the biggest excitement of 2010?




Mustafa Koc showing off the new wing for Prestige, sat at this stage on the fuselage and tails from a Pike Perfect pending production of the complete model.

See Gossip for the scant details so far of this exciting "no expense spared" development.



Philip Kolb, joint designer with Benjamin Rodax, poses with the new Prestige wing, manufactured at the Fineworx factory in Istanbul run by Murat Esibatir and Philip. Don't start hankering after your own Prestige because it is unlikely to be produced commercially.


Murat Esibatir clutching his fineworx Prestige at the Osijeka Eurotour, first competitive outing for the new model, an ambitious triumph for Murat, Philip Kolb and Mustafa Koc.



When Brazil competes in the WCs, most pilots wonder what spectacular designs they will be sporting on their track-suits and T-shirts. They won’t disappoint I’m sure! Team manager is Norberto Padovanni from Santo Andre; this trip will be his first “international” flight outside Brazil and he’s more nervous about that than his TM duties. Senior team will be Mario Sergio de Lucca from San Paulo flying a Pike Perfect with regular and extended tips, travelling this time with his son Lucas who will be a helper. He flew in Canada and also Slovakia. Marlon Luz also hails from Sao Paulo, he flew in Turkey and pilots Supras. Marlon and Mario fly together most weekends. Third pilot is Mauro Lucio Lopes from Rio de Janeiro, also a Supra fan, and with distances so wide the three only get togther 2/3 times a year at competitions. 


Host nation France will have a new team manager, Ivan Moquereau who was a pilot last year in Poland. He feels very honoured this time to represent his country in this special year, he is also fourth pilot should anything untoward happen. With three Explorers, first pilot will be Lionel Fournier who came so close to the flyoffs in Wloclavek and he will surely feel the pressure of the home venue. Jean Bernard Verrier flies Supra Pros, it’s his first WC, but he knows Jura well and made the flyoffs last year in the French Eurotour. Bertrand Wilmot is in the team for the third time and is hoping to control the adrenalin this time. Drink more wine is the answer to that!


Junior team is Robin Galeazzi who has competed before in Turkey and elsewhere and flies Xplorers with Lionel as spotter. Remi Cutivet is the youngster at 13 years old and sees this year as a stepping stone for his F3J future, while Jean Baptiste Demay at 18 years old, this will be his first and last as a junior. All the locals in Jura will be rooting for these six!


Another new TM is David James from New Zealand, best known for contest directing many National Soaring Championships and their team trials. Late withdrawal of Sven Zaalberg, who came so close to triumph in Turkey, has made room for Les Stockley who also flew in Turkey as did Scott Chisholm. For the first time Joe Wurts will fly for his “new nation” team  in an F3J WC. He did fly for NZ last year in the F3B WC in the Czech Republic, a lonesome role from all accounts. This time we wish him the success which his record surely deserves.


Try to see the DVD produced by the Slovakian F3J (Litteam) team after last year’s Eurochamps in Wloclavek. Don’t miss it! It shows how the Slovaks produced probably the best performance in the contest, and details how the whole team of wives, pilots and helpers went about making their holiday in Poland an enjoyable experience. Can they do the same in France: could be!


This year Patrik Michnac will again be TM, Jan Littva junior will be determined to elevate his title of junior Eurochampion to World status and he will be helped by senior pilot/father Dr Jan Littva, the team’s senior coach and back as a pilot for his country after 10 years. Main favourite among the pilots is Juraj Adamek who is already well placed in the Euroleague together with Juaj Bartek, the hardened pilot. Helpers as everyone knows hold a vital role in the path to success, and Patrik tells me that Dusan, Pat’o, Misso, L’ubo, Jano, Julius and Ad’o are more than ever coordinated - “everyone has run 100 metres in less than 10 seconds at the last team trial.” Contrast that with the US towmen, chosen on weight and strength.


Contrast it also with the Canadian team where Kevin Nerling, an F3J and RC newcomer will be TM and towman together with Landon Langley. Senior team will be Arend Borst who needs no introduction save a reminder that he was world champion in Lapeenranta (1992), Eric Heemskerk who also flew in Finland and at Red Deer, and Keith Thompson from Chilliwack whose prime experience is slope soaring. Welcome addition to Canadian efforts will be junior Simon Borst who I am reliably informed came second in the combined S & J team trials, not because he followed dad into lift, but he looked for and found his own patches of good air.


Germany’s TM will be Stefan Eder, still youthful, still in deep voice, and probably today’s grandfather of F3J, better known today as designer of the Satori and other winning designs from Aer-o-tec. I wonder how many Satori’s will be flying in Dole; they are selling well in the US and around Europe, my friend Andre has one and reckons it’s the easiest to fly high performance F3J model ever, launches high and penetrates like an arrow. We’ll see!


Germany will have full teams of seniors and juniors, hardly surprising from a country which has more F3J pilots and contests than anywhere. Senior team is also long established with many triumphs including team champions in Canada in 2004. They are Tobias Lammlein, still studying in Switzerland, Philip Kolb now resident in Istanbul - and well able to make a speeches in Turkish - and stay-at-home leather-hatted Karl Hinsch. They are all expecting to fly different models, Tobi sticking with HKM’s High End, Philip seeking early wins for the new Prestige and Karl Hinsch relying on his faithful Pike Perfects.


Benedikt Feigl will be competing as present world champion, flying NAN Models, Xplorers 3500 and 4000, and says he is “fully motivated.” Can he become the next pilot to win two championships? Will he do better than brother Sebastian who last year in Poland did not live up to expected form in defending his Eurochampion title.


Junior team will have an 11-year old newcomer, Max Finke, nerveless with uncanny F3J skills, flying a model new to me “Tortuga,” a treat in store to see. He will be joined by experienced Manuel Reinecke flying Aspires and old-hand Timo Ganser with his Xplorers. They will be eager to regain the reputation of being the junior team beat.


Manfred Wirtz leads the Dutch and we can expect a large team of supporters waving lots of orange in France. One newcomer to the senior team will be Jaap Kooy flying Super Starlight and Sharon Pro, and his mates are stalwarts from many a year, Cor de Jong with Pike Perfects and Peter Zweers with Super Starlights. I have followed progress of Lesley van der Laan for many years, he has doubled in height, and it comes as a shock to realise that this year will be his last as a junior pilot. Egbert van der Laan will be his coach and they are hoping for a final triumph which would be well deserved.


Erik Morgan gained a team place for Norway but for reasons unknown had to give up his place, only to find that he could make it and so will travel as a helper. His pilot place is taken by Jostein Myre joined by Jo Grini and Per Pedersen. They have two juniors, Stein Marius Pedersen who is 17 and Fredrik Grini aged 13. Helpers will be Stig Magne Olsen, Charles Obschonka, an Aussie working in Norway, and the rejuvenated Erik Morgan. In his usual modest way, TM Grini reports that “Norway is expecting Jojo to be in the final and win it all.” Nuff said!


Finland’s Janne Savolainen will be by himself again this year and looks to join in with the Brits. He was to fly with Tuomo Kokkonen who has a vital work project. Janne’s wife and 18-month old baby are off to a wedding. He will bring his masterful use of English expletives to steer his Pike Perfects.


Theo Arvanitakis is Australia’s TM and will drive the efforts of twice champion David Hobby, Carl Strautins and Jim Houdalakis, first timer but no stranger. David and Jim have been working on special launching techniques - even faster? - and David has been modifying his tips in some “unique” way which boosts dead air hang time - something to watch for. Meanwhile, Carl has been flying seven days a week from a very short bungee and “has become as one with his Pikes.” Sounds very dangerous.


The British team will have a new manager, Nick Kidd, who has been flying F3J for only a few years. He lives on the Isle of Wight and for every contest he needs a ferry before he starts his long trecks across the country. Many F3J pilots in Britain moan at the travel distances required to stand any chance of a team place. I say to them: take a look at what happens in Russia, Canada, USA, Australia and many other countries. Some individuals on official BMFA committees urge the F3J league organisers to spread more contests across the regions to attract wider participation. What they can’t do is to persuade more pilots to enter. In Britain F3J pilot numbers are sadly slowly falling. Nick sets a shining example in enthusiasm.


UK’s senior team will also have a newcomer, Mark Devall, who has flown thermal contests since the year dot but has never made the top grade at international level. He will need some beginner’s luck but he’s not lacking in confidence at this stage. Both Austin Guerrier and Colin Paddon are not new to championships and although form for both has been variable this year, it is on the up and Colin won Radioglide two weeks ago. 


Mark’s place is due to Adrian Lee’s decision to give up F3J competitions in favour of another of his hobbies, running, a decision which might surprise many pilots from around the world who have known him over the past 20 years. He has represented the UK more times than any other pilot, his hand-built self-designed High Fives were known for all being red on top and blue below, for most being rather heavier than you’d expect and each having surprising performance under his control. More recently, due to shortage of time, he has flown Graphites. He was undone because he was adamant that if he could “make-do and win” with what he’d got, then why change? 


Adrian is not the easiest man to know. He was gifted and funny when he impersonated Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean. He was Britain’s most consistent and successful thermal flyer in the UK’s notoriously unkind weathers. He made many flyoffs but never became an FAI champion, which is sad. Should he change his mind in the coming years, he will be welcomed back into the fold.


Croatia could well get onto the team podium, led by Damir Kosir, pilots Arijan Hucaljuk, Sasa Pecinar and Antun “Bearhug” Sikic. Juniors are Arijan “one-second launch and practice every afternoon” Hucaljuk, Marijan Balasko and Miro Suver. Gossipers sometimes ask why I don’t predict flyoff places and winners for junior pilots. The simple answer is that they are under enough pressure at an FAI championship without being tagged as a favourite. It is also less easy to follow form. If forced to pick a new junior world champion, it would be Arijan.


Of all the teams with a language problem, Romania has the hardest job making itself understood. They organise many FAI championships in all classes and make a good job look simple. But when it comes to the boring model processing, they always miss some details. In France we shall welcome TM Traian Tomescu with senior pilots Milea Catalin, Florica Ionut and Iordan Gheorghe. Sadly the juniors have been left at home this time.


Italy will be in Dole with lots of fans in full voice. No nation can get voices to carry so far down the safety corridor The Gallizia family has been tackling this year’s Eurotour with zest, turning up in Turkey, Bulgaria, Slovakia and home base at Lodi, all before the middle of May. Father Giuseppe has gained his reward by topping the Eurotour league after five contests, with Marco and Carlo his sons sitting in ninth and tenth places. They’ll have a job keeping it up for eight more events, but they deserve a big cheer. 


Third son is the current world junior champion Giovanni Gallizia who has been studying in the USA for the past year and has not been able or allowed to fly models. He is due back in Italy any day now and will be coming to the WCs to defend his title. The big question is whether he will pick up all his skills with minimum practice? I am confident that he will.


Giorgio Dittadi is Italy’s TM again with an established senior team of Marco Salvigni, Marco Generali and Thomas Truffo. You can seen why the Gallizia’s have been practicing, for Carlo and Marco are in the junior team with the third pilot being Federico Montanini. Let’s see if someone can repeat recent championship triumphs.


I already hinted at what’s expected of Primoz Rizner but he is also closely rivalled by Bojan Gergic and Jan Hlastec in Slovenia’s senior team led by TM Pavel Prhavc, yet another top pilot. Junior team is Jure Marc, Robert Ratjac and Metod Meolic. All the Slovenians will be acutely conscious that Bovec is the venue for next year’s Eurochamps. Success in France will set the scene well. To my mind Bovec next year will become a flying site of world reknown.


As I write, South Africa is howling with vuvuzelas - don’t bring them to France please - and the World Cup Football Finals. Few people realise that they are merely practicing for the next FAI F3J World Championships in 2012, to be held in Johannesburg in the first half of August and organised by the Model Gliding Association of South Africa. Michelle Goodrum is part of the organising team along with Lionel Brink and Wolfgang Steffny. 


This first successful bid from south of the equator - which means it will be winter time down there - was accepted by FAI in Lausanne in April. All the delegates were determined to get out from under Iceland’s volcanic cloud at the time. It’s going to be a long way to travel, but what an exciting prospect!


In France TM will be Herman Weber assisted by Johan Bruwer snr, the pilots led by Craig Goodrum, flyoff man from Turkey in 2008 and not bad at F3J for an F3B man, Chris Adrian and Paul Carnall. They bring three juniors too, Jason Weber who will help his dad, Ryan Nelson and Tsepho Molefe. Again the aim must be to take medals back home in preparation for 2012.


To another part of our shrinking world, Japan will be led by TM Hirochi Ohata with pilots Shuhei Okamoto, Akira Oshima and Tsuneo Horiuchi and sadly no juniors. I hope that Shuhei will bring his super mini-chuckies - his Craftroom firm produces an exciting collection - and his absence in recent WCs is explained by his public duties as a politician.


Estonia are back again too, led by TM and pilot Edvin Penart together with Partel Peeter Kruuv and Priit Leomar, a welcome return. Lithuania pilots are regulars at WCs and they too have a TM/pilot in Valdas Braziuans, plus top pilot Ricardas Siumbrys and Donatas Pampikas. I shall be cheering them on.





One competition in France will be to see who is the youngest junior in the contest. One contender is Ivaylo Dimitrov from Bulgaria posing in front of the podium at Dupnitsa this year where he had the misfortune to have his fuselage and tail cut off by a rival during launch. As part consolation, Sebastian Feigl who won the Eurotour event, then donated his prize of an Xplorer to Ivaylo, a super gesture.



What a glorious place to practice with you new model in Bulgaria's winter mountains. Yuliya Lazarkova, pride of father Sotir and flying juniors in France.


Bulgaria has become a leading F3J country, they run perhaps the most enjoyable and informal Eurotour on the circuit with  super friendly hospitality. It is also the home of NAN Models, I guess today’s most prolific model glider factory. So far podium places have eluded their native pilots, but all is set to change for Sotir Lazarkov has just won the Osijeka Eurotour. In France he will carry TM duties as well as flying and he will have his daughter Yuliya Lazarkova in the junior team along with the diminutive Ivaylo Dimitrov and Filip Stamenkov. Two remaining senior pilots are Konstantin Ranov and Valentin Valchev. Bulgaria will be a force to be reckoned with in Jura.


This year I was due to visit the Ukraine for the Wilga Cup but sadly could not make it. Vladimir Gavrylko will lead the team and is also a prolific producer of top class glider and electric models. Linked with Dr Drela in the US, he is working on the next radical development to the Supra Pro, although we probably won’t see it in France. Senior pilots in the team are Vladimir Makarov, Oleksandr Chekh and Oleksandr Petrenko who are all having success in the Euroleague. They also have two juniors, Andriy Ordyna and Artem Parkulab. I aim to make the trip next time!


Top prize for travel determination and distances should go to the Russian team who have already travelled tens of thousands of miles for Eurotours in preparation for France. TM and senior pilot is Alexey Shchegolev with Dmitry Gashnev and Aleksandr Volkov in support, The team will have two juniors Dmitry Gushchin  and Nikita Derzhavinskiy. Will this time be the opportunity for a top place?


Belgium will have its Eurotour at the beginning of July, three weeks before the big jamboree, and that will enable the seniors and juniors to hit their highest form. Led by TM Chris Denolf, there are no surprises among the seniors Tom Mertens, David Claeys and Chris Gyssens. Junior team is Daan Menjoie, Amou Verheijen and Vincent Beckers. 


Sweden has TM Antero Hurtig and pilots Conny Ulvestaf, Magnus Hedlund and Lennart Arvidsson, but no juniors this time. The team reserves its appearances to the big events!  


Switzerland’s team holds no surprises with TM Rueti Baumgartner and his son Reto as pilot with Koni Oetiker and Ernesto Weber and I wish them luck with their dedicated enthusiasm and jovial helpers.


Last but not least is the Czech Republic, home of the most famous and long established moulded model builders and many of the world’s best pilots. But is this fame on the wane? I am surprised that they have only one junior this time, Tomas Kadlec, so for once they won’t be team prize contenders. Senior pilots are Pavel Kristof, Jan Vacha and Jiri Duchan who came ever so close to winning the WCs in Turkey. Martin Rasjner is TM and I am pleased to see that Samba’s Vlastimil amd Jaroslav Vostrel will be there as helpers, and you could not have better experienced men. I hope to see Jane Vostrelova.


I have gossiped about two USA pilots, but of course I should detail the whole team. Let me also put on record the generous support they receive from their sponsors and modellers across the continent. Every two years they donate raffle prizes and put their hands in their pockets and raise remarkable dollars which go a long way to paying the hefty bill to attend, like tens of thousands of dollars. No other nation matches it. Well done!


The USA has a new TM with Michael Verzuh, a popular choice, but I am sorry not to see Jim Monaco this time. Dave Beardsley is assistant manager and will also help his son, Brendon together with juniors Conner Laurel and Michael Knight. Richard Burnoski is the senior pilot I have not mentioned and who will not forget his ballast ever again! I am not sure if he will continue to fly Supras or if he has converted to Satoris - maybe a mix. He hails from the Chicago area which again illustrates just how far team members need to travel to get together. US helpers and supporters are a well-knit bunch who back their pilots to the hilt. They will surely go home with medals!


As each year passes in FAI championships, F3J enthusiasts become a closer family of friendly rivals. If you check, not a dozen of the pilots are new this year to the circuit. It is almost unhealthy. But it is very warming.


In France next month, 16 of the pilots competing flew in the first WCs at Upton in England 12 years ago, one Jan Vacha having been as a junior then. I’ve got the records but not the time to check how many have flown in every WCs since.  That is why Euro and World championships have that magic blend of camaraderie and competition. Long may it continue and let France add its own touch of excellence.


And to everyone, BON CHANCE!


Sydney Lenssen,  June 2010