Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Welsh Open 2011

Thursday morning saw me at Peter’s house loading our stuff into his car before setting off about 10:30 to collect Mike for the journey down to the Bwlch and the Welsh Open. Twenty minutes later we were heading back to Peter’s to pick up the bag containing his clothes and chargers! We took time when we got to Mike’s to drool over his recently aquired large Ventus spotted hiding in the back of his garage before heading for the M74. A stop for a burger to sustain us and we were off. We had an appointment for a curry in the Ashoka in Bridgend later on.

Friday morning started damp with showers and a good south westerly wind so we ended up on Mickey’s slope and the start of the competition. I have to confess to being a wee bit nervous before my first flight but was more than chuffed with a 39.xx which is only my third sub-40. Well pleased I was! The majority of times were in the low 40s and mid 30s. Fast!!

We were plagued by frequent heavy showers all day but the proximity of the cars meant we had somewhere to hide from the rain.

Our poor models had to lie there and get soaked!

Just before I was due to fly in round two, I spotted a problem with an elevator servo and had to switch to my Skorpion. AJ was kind enough to let me squeeze in a “re-fly” later in the round. The rain started during my flight but I declined the offer of a second re-fly which AJ reckoned was a mistake. I think he may well have been right!

The weather meant that only one round was completed and just over half of the second before flying was abandoned for the day. Back in the New Inn for a quick change of elevator servo (I had a spare with me) and my Vikos was ready to go again. Rich Bago had more servos with him and I was able to obtain another spare.

The Ashoka was pretty busy all evening so we had to find another curry house to squeeze in the 14 hungry fliers. Two curries in two days. Wow!!

Saturday saw us on the west slope at Mickey’s in similar (less than perfect) weather and no cars to escape to. The first big shower got Mike and I really soaked, Peter had managed to find shelter under the Sportsbrella of the Yorkshire contingent. Guess where Mike and I went when the next shower hit? I’m sure the three of us spent half the day having philosophical discussions with Jon, Keith and Richard as the heavy rain lashed the Sportsbrella. We were more than grateful for their hospitality!
Round two from Friday was completed and round three flown with several interruptions for the heavy showers of rain and hail. The Norwegians sat out these deluges stoically hiding behind large cape/groundsheets.

Mike provided some entertainment for Peter and me during round four by almost cutting on legs 3 and 5 and then having a huge cut on leg 7. However, if you are not cutting you are not trying!!

A heavy rain shower before I flew in round four seemed to remove most of the lift and I put in a dismal 60.xx time although not as bad as Jon Eddison who got some very poor air indeed. Full ballast and no wind is not a good situation to be in! That would be our discard round sorted then! About 10 pilots got caught in this crap air before it picked up again. I wasn’t keen on the walk up the hill to the landing area and as the day progressed and more pilots and more rain fell and the path became quite muddy and slippery and the climb up to the landing area became a trial!

Just before Joel West launched my Vikos in round five I spotted that one flap was a bit slow and checking things after I landed showed the battery had almost died. Gulp!! Lucky that didn’t happen in the air. Also lucky that I had a spare in the correct configuration for the Vikos all charged up and ready to go.

The weather closed in during round five and we spent the last hour hiding from the rain until a halt was called to let us all get our more than soggy gear stowed in the cars and heading back for a well deserved hot shower before making our way to the Welsh Open Banquet. Mike and I were inspired by the Norwegian guys at our table and we are planning to organise our own F3F training camp!!

Sunday morning saw us sitting in Peter's car at the road junction by the ice cream van watching the rain falling. And falling... And falling….

After lunchtime it was looking like that would be it for the day but around 2:30 it stopped raining and Rich Bago had had enough sitting around and headed for the Ice Cream slope for a fly and was soon giving his Alliaj big licks. Assuming Rich knew something the rest of us didn’t most of us followed him out to the slope and arrived just as the rain returned. More time under the Sportsbrella followed! However, we did manage to complete round five and fly round six. I didn’t think my 44.xx was much good but others were slower than me because they were unlucky and caught out by the most variable air of the whole competition and I raised my 40th position to 39th.

The lift on Friday and Saturday was fairly consistent (apart from the bad spell I got caught up in round three) but the air on Sunday was definitely variable. In the final round not only did Peter have to fly in indifferent air the sun came out and was hanging right over the climb-out area dazzling any pilot trying to fly there. The pilot who flew just before Peter stuffed his Alliaj when he lost sight of it in the sun.
The standard of flying was excellent and you needed to consistently be getting mid to low 30 times to feature in the top 10. I didn’t envy the organiser’s task of trying to keep everyone happy in the changeable weather conditions. As is normal, the lift was variable but generally not as bad as it could have been. With a field of over 50 pilots and numerous stops for rain only 5 rounds were completed. It was great to see the many different styles of flying.

At the end of the competition, and to save him lugging it all the way back to Norway, Bjorn Tore Hagen was kind enough to give me his camping chair. Thanks Bjorn :o)

The results are on F3F groups and Kevin Newtons's website (knewt) has pictures and more information.

Congratulations to Joel West for a well deserved win. Congratulations should also go to everyone who competed and stuck it out to the end!

Note. If you are ever in Wales and trying to get money from a cash machine, when the machine asks if you want instructions in English or Welsh, don't click Welsh! Prat!
Also, keep an eye open for Welsh beaver! Quite common I believe :o)

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