Dear Jo et al

I promised that if I got round to it, I would send you Uncle Sydney's pre-champs bulletin/gossip column. It has been a bit rushed this time, but I hope it amuses some people!!
Best wishes and looking forward to seeing you all in Red Deer, Sydney


produced by Uncle Sydney

Dateline: 15 JULY 2004

This week the world famous Calgary Stampede sees all today’s best cowboys and international crowds gather with their cows, horses and chuck wagons to race, bet and make merry. It’s a real ball!

But if you want true excitement, then it is still two weeks away, taking place 150 kilometres further north in Red Deer, the 2004 World F3J Championships. For the fourth time we shall find out who is current world best F3J pilot.

Yesterday Keith Morison and the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada issued the pilots list, naming 60 seniors from 21 countries and 24 juniors from 11 countries.Time to look again into the crystal ball and guess who’s going to do what this year.

Carl Strautins again represents Australia along with Gerry Carter and David Hobby, newcomers to the world scene. Two years ago I did not reckon the chances from down-under very highly, but Carl proved me wrong, I lost a bet and he got into the fly-off at Lappeenranta. He reads air with the conviction of youth and he is competitive in the extreme. I wonder if mum and dad will be in Canada too and predict he will again make the finals.

Brazil are regular attenders at FAI events all over the world including F3J. They fly with spirit and natural zest, if not quite as successfully as their national football team. Again they have one experienced flyer from previous WC’s, Alexandre Morassi, and his two new team mates are Mario DeLucca and Luiz Monteiro, plus junior Marco Fracao. They will need five days of luck to be in with a chance.

Host country Canada will have four senior pilots competing, because reigning champion Arend Borst gets an automatic place and chance to defend his title. The three who count as team will be Graeme Clark, Eric Heemskerk and Rolf Oetter. Graeme came sixth in Finland and Eric flew there too. The country achieves results far beyond the numbers who fly F3J. They enjoy(?!) a huge range of weather conditions and contend with vast distances. This time my bets are not on any of them, for they’ll be busy with hosting duties. Everyone will wish them well.

The Czech Republic is “heavyweight” when it comes to F3J. Most of the world’s moulded models, some of the best, are made there. Most developments stem from there. Many of the Czech pilots can be considered as professional in that they earn their living from the sport.

Oft-times champion Jan Kohout won’t be there, nor will Michel Vagner. But Jaroslav Vostrel, inspiration of the Pike team will be, along with Jiri “Xantia” Tuma, one of the earliest - long before FAI recognised the class - F3J Eurotour winners. Martin Rajsner, who did well in Deva last year, makes up the team. 

Some consider that this years’ team is the weakest for a long time: Jan is more interested in mountain climbing, and from Eastern Europe, Canada is a long expensive trip.I think the fly-off will see one Czech, likely to be Jaroslav, and he will deserve it for creating one of the two best F3J model designs this side of the Atlantic. The seniors have a reasonable chance for the podium.

The Czech juniors will probably be strong, with Jiri’s son Tomas, Jakub Valo and Jan Vatoupal, but I haven’t seen them perform. It would be surprising if they are not on the team podium to left or right of the top spot.

Denmark always sends a keen team, but somehow doesn’t reach the heights expected. Ole Blomseth is there again with two WC newcomers, Klaus Christiansen and Peter Mikkelsen, and I wish them success and good fun. 

Finland can manage only one senior pilot this time, and all hopes rest on Janne Savolainen’s experienced shoulders. That’s one pilot better than Sweden which don’t appear to be sending anyone. 

Other countries notable by their absence, by the way, are Austria, Belgium, Croatia (venue for the next Eurochamps), Greece (where are you Nikos, especially after that Football Eurochamps win?), Hungary, Israel, and Poland. We shall miss you all, but please try harder next time.

Norway will have a full complement of seniors led by the effervescent Jo Grini who keeps everyone entertained all year round with his photographs, diary and web-site. Team mates will be Tor Midtlund and Aril Roesvik together with junior pilot Alexander Svenning. I fancy Jojo’s chances for the final rounds this year because he’s very conscious of the altitude of Red Deer - almost 1,000 metres - and the thinner air. Norway affords the chance to practice at that height. Is the thin air going to be the big feature of the Red Deer champs? We shall soon see!

France is another country lean on pilots with one senior, Lionel Fournier, and one junior Yann Bocquet. Yann won Britain’s Interglide last year and came second the year before. He must be the oldest looking junior pilot ever - if he’s still got his goatee beard - and he’s bold and brilliant. Hope Stephane Mazot will make it as team manager with his quips and laughs, keeping all of us - apart from the French - in order.

Nice surprise to see a full team of six from Italy, hopefully led by the melodic “Big Man” Paulo Panfilo. Sadly Marco Salvigni, who has flown all WCs to date, will not be there, but Forli organiser Rover Mersecchi will more than make up, Roberto Simonini has been there before and a welcome to Massimo Aramini. The juniors are Filippo Gallizia, Marco Generali and Thomas Truffo. 

Congratulations to Italy’s F3J enthusiasts that they have nurtured younger flyers. I like the Italians’ spirited style, but don’t see the senior team getting in the top ten. The junior team could reach the podium, but they’ll need to stretch.

Two of the three Japanese seniors have familiar friendly faces, Syuhei Okamoto and Yoshihiro Kurita, and I am sure they will have super handlaunch models with them to keep us all amazed during the breaks. Third man is Yoshihiro Ouno. If the ladies come too, as they did in Corfu, then many of us will return home with beautiful origami momentos. Slim chance of a Japanese winner this year I fear.

Holland had a similar predicament to the UK team, having to go far down the league table to find three pilots able to make the trip to Canada. But Peter Zweers has seen it all before and Cor de Jong and Wim Eilander will fly with zeal. I shall miss Jos Kleuskens, Rob Sanders and Alex Hoekstra who has given up F3J and gone to dirty noisy smelly power. Despite all the changes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Netherlands gaining one fly-off place and better than Finland in the team placing.

The Goodrums - Michelle and Craig - together with Chris Adrian have one of the most awkward journeys to get to the east side of the Rockies from South Africa. They always perform well above what you’d expect given the number of flyers in their country. They also have a style which betrays their F3B pedigrees. Expect Michelle to do the best of the bunch again this year, hopefully to the final rounds.

Now the “big unknown” for 2004 is certain to be the Russian teams, senior and junior, in full strength, with names totally unfamiliar to me: Andrey Cheremetiev, Alexey Shchogolev and Evgueni Tvorogov; and juniors Andrey Kalaburdin, Ksenya Komarova and Ildar Sultanov. If they arrive, they’re sure of a big welcome for it’s the first time this country has graced F3J champs. 

I remember the Dutch F3B WC in Holland when they all turned up in a big bus, and hardly every left it except to fly. That was over 20 years ago! Now it is different. I cannot wait to see the models they bring along. For decades the Russians have led the world in many of FAI classes especially free flight. They could produce shockwaves in R/C thermal flying too; not this year I suspect.

Slovenia is represented by a full senior team - Nejc Bozic, Primoz Prhavc and Primos Rizner - and two juniors Rok Bozic and Tomaz Kranjc. I met these guys in Bled last year and you will never get a warmer welcome anywhere. And they fly as well as the best, and they are used to flying close to mountains, not that the sod farms of Red Deer are likely to offer the same thing as the Austria/Slovenian Alps. 

If past experience really counts, then the Swiss have that in full measure with Reto Baumgartner, Gusti Beili and Konrad Oetiker. Yet, like UK, they rarely fly to their full capability at big champs. So fingers crossed for success in Canada - they’ll have good fun whatever happens.

One potential world champion who has yet to make the top spot is Juraj Adamek from Slovakia and I am tempted this year to make him my favourite for world champion. He’s doing well already in this year’s Eurotour, in Finland he came top of the preliminary rounds and made fifth in the finals. I am not sure - yet. He will come along with Juraj Bartek and Jan Ivancik. They also have a full junior team and it will be good to see Tomas Bednar, Tibor Duchovny and Radoslav Zaborsky. Don’t rule out a Slovak victory in one category - but which?

Then we come to F3J’s fastest improving country - Turkey - home of magic carpets, wonderful Istanbul hospitality and host to this year’s first Eurotour event in April. At the next event - Hirzenhain in May - in wet conditions they gained three fly-off places. The Turkish team is Murat Esibatir, Ilgaz Kalaycioglu and Mustafa Koc, with team manager “Gentle Giant” Serdar Cumbus and German coach Thomas Rossner. All are in form and determined to excel. If the weather is rough at times, they could surprise us all. Surely they will win one fly-off place!

It’s a measure of what Ukraine contributes to the world’s model glider production that Volodymyr Gavrylko will be there again, together with Oleksiy Nadasukevych who doubles as team manager and Viitaliy Slusarenko. I hope they bring their latest models and flair to the event. Do not expect winning flights, but they bring excitement and enjoyment to their slots.

Closest neighbours to the hosts, the United States of America is sending full teams, most members already familiar. Joe Wurts will be expected to lead the results of seniors Larry Jolly and Tom Kiesling, although Larry could run him close. Joe will be keener than ever to regain his 1998 world crown at the inaugural WC at Upton. He must be a good bet although the odds will be short. He himself has already written this year about being ex-F3B, ex-F3J and ex-Powie hlg champ. It must be hard to maintain the same focus. But again he’s the man to beat. 

The American juniors are represented by experienced Paul Griebenow together with newcomers Casey Adamczyk and Joseph Newcombe. Their team will most certainly reach the rostrum, and Paul should this time be main contender for junior world champ. 

That leaves two teams to cover. 

I’ve hesitated with the United Kingdom details because it’s too close to home. I know some of the problems we’ve had getting the team together. I shall be rooting for them because they’re friends. The “they” are Adrian Lee who doubles as team manager, Sven Zaalburg who in his spare time doubles as Boeing 747 long haul pilot and Colin Lucas, scraping in as reserve, a well deserved reward for all that he has given to UK’s F3J scene. I can’t see them as favourites for any spot, but one of them will make the fly-off I’m sure. I hope it proves better.

My other missing - and the final - team is Germany. The health of German F3J is phenomenal, far outstripping any other country anywhere. Competitions often attract more than 100 entries and 20-30 juniors. Little wonder that competitive instincts are ingrained. Their flyers become honed in judging risk.

At senior level they have Philip Kolb, currently leading Eurotour and last year’s Eurotour winner. Then Karl Hinsch, oft-times team manager and the very first Eurotour winner back in 1993. Third man is Tobias Lammlein, current junior world champion, competing for the first time as senior pilot. 

That line-up already sounds a strong team. But what will shine clear in Red Deer is that all three pilots have flown as a team for several years. They will fly high and strong. June’s issue of FMT, the leading German model magazine, shows the national F3J team, and painted across the underside of Philip’s wing is: “Go Fast Or Go Home”. The hype precedes the show!

Junior team consists of Thomas Fischer, Benedict Feigl and Robert Braune. Surely nobody would be bold enough to suggest that they won’t again become junior team champions, a title held by Germany since the start. It would take a succession of disasters and accidents to rob them of a further championship. 

I won’t predict the next junior world champion to avoid adding any further pressure.

But that does not apply when picking my favourite for next senior F3J world champion. That is Philip Kolb. He came last in the Upton fly-offs; he missed the fly-offs in Corfu going adrift in slot one round one; he missed the finals in Lappeenranta due to a poor ninth round. This time, he’ll nail it.

What’s important are not the winners, but that everyone enjoys a happy healthy sporting competition, everyone lucky enough to get to Canada and also their supporters following each day of progress at home.

NB I leave for Vancouver after this weekend’s Interglide, hoping to get to Red Deer in time for the Canada Cup. I get back to the computer a week after the WCs, hoping that there’s something of interest to report.

Sydney Lenssen. 15 July 2004


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