After a week or two of uncertainty and a little intervention from Wolfgang with the boss the problem of overlapping leave was solved and Brian organized with his sailing buddies to shift their voyage forward. The end result of all this was that I would not be able to join Michelle and Dion in Salzburg for the week long practice session before the Worlds, the great news was that I would get to take part in the premier gliding event.
Preparation for this years’ team started well in advance. Michelle and I had decided to fly Estrellas two years ago she had two and I had three (I broke one and while it was being fixed purchased Peter Eagles one). Michelle obtained an Eagle from Jiri Tuma as her third model in April after we saw how well Rodney’s one flew. Dion also wanted to fly something better than an X21 and purchased an Eagle and a Crossfire. Disaster struck about two months before we left during a practice session, Dion had been making excellent progress with the Eagle – matching me on speed and often giving me something to aim for during practice – when he experienced a full lock out at the top of the zoom and the model make a short and unsuccessful attack on the Earth. There was nothing left! With no time to spare to get replacement models and transport them here Wolfy came up with a diabolical plan to get one of the Salzburgers (Matzi) to fit out a Crossfire over there, and Dion would pick this up when he arrived the week before the contest.
I was confronted with a slightly different problem, three weeks before leaving Rodney told me about the fantastic Ceres by Jiri Baudis. After a little investigation we found out that it would be possible to get a ready to fly model two days before the worlds, I would try it out and if it was as good as they said then that would be what I would fly. To do this I needed some money – time to sell one of the Esrellas (this is the one Derek Marusich bought).
Michelle, Dion and Wolfy left the Friday before us and for a week before I left I was getting SMS’s asking for CA, sight, socks, porridge, tools, soldering iron, jacket, Wellington (Gummi) boots (I didn’t get a chance to go to the shops and find these and to Michelle’s credit I still have not had an “I told you so!”).. the list just wouldn’t stop. While Michelle was typing these SMS’s I was trying to make ultra light model boxes, we had limited luggage allowance and a lot of luggage so weight was a big problem, using cardboard boxes and finding boots would have been time better spent. Our luggage was already much less than it could have been, Wolfy organised that we borrow equipment from the Salzburg F3B team, this was well organised equipment and we actually used two Ricky Mitchell winches (Ricky your winches have been used in a World Championships!). Wolfy also managed to get us two vans at hardly any cost and our accommodation price was unbeatable.
Eventually it was time for us (Shirley (Mathew’s partner in crime), Rodney (field team manager – possibly another SA colours issue, and I) to join the team and we left SA the Friday before the start of the competition. Wolfy collected us from the airport at 7am in the morning and off we went to find Emmen. On the Saturday we went the contest site, collected equipment and then it was off to the practice field. At the practice field the Belgians had been having some frequency problems, then we saw an F3A type model flying about a kilometre away. The frequency being used wasn’t the same as ours so we took a chance and flew. It was the first time I flew the Ceres and although the flying characteristics were great I found it impossible to launch. Hmmmm. Later discussion with Jiri and I had a plan for Sunday. Our second helper, George, arrived later on Saturday and on Sunday it was time to train him about his job while we practiced. Well that was the plan. Instead it started raining, eventually we just flew in the rain breaks and drizzle – very soggy. The good news was that the Ceres was launching better, it is not as easy a model to launch as an Estrella but the pace in speed is better from a slightly lower height. Decision made, this was the model I would fly, the Ceres had an advantage in the speed and distance tasks which are always difficult to win.
Dion has chosen his somewhat pink model and Michelle had chosen her yellow high modulus DP Estrella. It is always good to go into a competition with a favourite.
We all struggled in somewhat damp varying conditions. I would put the difference down to launch height more than anything else as we normally landed in the second half of the field but there was always that elusive higher model that stayed up longer. At this point things did not look great, we were off to a bad start. My first duration became a reflight after tagged the line of my neighbouring launcher as he flicked and flew across my path, his line broke as it cut into my “orange juice” (Dion), the organizers also announced my name to fly in the next slot while I was still flying (No idea why). The refly duration with the Estrella gave a similar result
In distance we were quite consistent but just not good enough, our calling was not sharp enough on the base B prep and too much time and distance was lost in the turns at base A and B. I was Flying the Estrella and the run was actually looking good (I thought it was at least a 900 points if we didn’t win) but then …wack….and the tail was no longer attached to the model, things just were not going to be easy this year. I had a chance to fly all three of my models in one round but decided to go with the Ceres again but the result was poor. Before I got to fly though they had rescheduled me for the group after Michelle and we had to do a quick changeover, I spoke to the CD and asked for time and they agreed, however this was not to be. By the time we had exchanged radios and turned on we saw that the working time remaining was 6 minutes, the organisers had forgotten to wait for us. Their comment “can you not still fly in this group?” – I just turned around and walked off the field, mumbling something to Rodney as I walked off, he sorted out that they rescheduled me for the final group.
Well the first thought had to be, “what speed?”
The team was struggling to be positive and the mud bath on the flight line was becoming more and more difficult to deal with as the day passed