A Report from Clive Needham

A group of six of us set to attend the European F3B comp at Arnhem in The Netherlands on 7th and 8th May.

The Northern group comprising myself and the Haley clan, Bill, Steve and young Simon who at 12 must be the youngest competitor from the UK to have taken part in a Comp with such illustrious company.

We travelled as we did last September, for the Belgium Comp, by meeting up at Kingston upon Hull to board the overnight ferry to Rotterdam. This being the most convenient but not he cheapest way to travel but enables us to sleep both ways and arrive fresh and ready for action. If meals are pre-booked in the excellent all you can eat buffet the cost per person each way for dinner and breakfast is only £20.

The time for me to get to Hull is about 90 minutes and took roughly the same from Rotterdam to the hotel outside Arnhem. The four star hotel gave us an excellent room rate, a twin room for 2 nights was only £26 per person per night. Pity about the food and drink costs which were expensive, not helped by the exchange rate. The hotel was only about ten minutes away from the flying site, Deelen airfield but as it was outside town there were no alternative dining options.

Thus the actual driving time by car was no more than might be expected  for a UK Comp, the downside being the extra time taken by the ferry and its cost. I am sure some of the European competitors had longer driving times than we did.

The ferry means leaving home mid afternoon Thursday and not arriving back until mid morning Monday.

The Southern group of Mark Passingham and Ken Woodhouse left Ken’s Home at 6-30am  Friday for an early trip via the channel tunnel with the hope of arriving at the airfield early Friday pm, it being about 260 miles from Calais, unfortunately due to heavy traffic and obligatory short stop for booze and fags they did not arrive until teatime.

The rest of us, after first checking it to the hotel, had been on site since about

12-30pm although it was stated it would not be open until 2-00pm.

The organisers were just beginning to set up the course so we had a leisurely lunch we had brought with us, so for once the Brits were first to arrive. A pattern to be followed on both competition days by us arriving by 7-00am, even before the organisers so we could eat our breakfasts in good time before the first slot started at 8-00am.

We had a good practice session in the afternoon but I made the mistake of concentrating on the Crossfire to obtain some of my best launches so far, I should also have flown the Dingo, not doing so cost me in R3. Steve and Simon both checked out the Radical but neither opted to use it in the contest.
The joint CD Erik Heijne.

Simon flew his much repaired hand me down Precious throughout the contest, which aroused much interest as the scruffiest aircraft amongst the mostly new pristine models seen. It is rumoured that he has a brand new Precious in the pipeline. Bill test flew his Shooter but Ken opted not to test fly his Target to give Mark as many launches as possible with his Cyril which was much damaged due to a mid-air in Belgium last year, by a pilot practicing speed prior to the Comp.

                                             Simon climbing out from launch to fly speed

Timing Equipment

 At times during the contest the Cyril was stalling the Ober winch as it was pulling so much tension. There might be a case for re-testing the winch to check if the performance is not up to scratch.

All weekend the wind was mainly from the East but varying to SE at times: it was brisk but not overly strong although it appeared to be less gusty than in the UK, The strength caught us out at times and it appeared we were sometimes under ballasted, especially in my case.

Duration was flown 8 to a slot and I was first up at 8-00am on Saturday, I flew without ballast which is normal but found I could not penetrate without losing height, although I did manage 959.3 points including a landing bonus of 85, my bests core of the contest.

The Crossfire only takes 900grams of ballast so I may need to explore getting some in the wing joiner, especially for speed in such conditions.

Steve took his usual 1000 points, Ken 930, Mark 981.4, Simon 971.4 and Bill 984.3 hitting the spot; this was probably the best set of scores for the team over the whole weekend.

Distance was next flown in groups of four I was in the second group. I should have put all the ballast in but only used 6 out of the 10 slugs, big mistake, although that is no excuse for a poor score. I can usually fly distance reasonably well without expecting to match the top class pilots in such Comps, as a result I only obtained 461.5 points a pattern to be repeated in the other two rounds. I could not get to grips with the technique required under the conditions.

The signalling system used by the organisers has a series of lights and buzzers with a mechanical count down timer display board. However some of the sounds are very similar so  it is necessary for one of the team to confirm the pilot has passed the base by watching the relevant light and nothing else throughout the task, otherwise mistakes can be made, none were made by our team. Thus a minimum of five including the pilot are required.

Steve was next to fly and had opted to fly the Cyril, unfortunately for once he did not perform to his usual high standard, as even in such company he is generally there or thereabouts, but being beaten by five legs cost him 270 points. If he got near to his usual 1000 points as he did in R2 and R3 he would have finished at least 7th overall.

Steve opted to fly the Fosa for the remainder of the contest so he was able to compare like for like with the other models to see if he could improve its performance.

Ken scored 782.6, Mark 750, Simon 583.3 and Bill 777.6 so none of did as well as we would have hoped.

Speed of course was next but did not follow what is now the usual pattern in such comps of running in reverse order based on the scores thus far, i.e. starting with competitor having the lowest score. This was not done until, as is normal, the final task in R3, I assume to save time compiling the scores; also to save time only 3 minutes instead of 4 minutes working time was allowed which caught some out if they re-launched, including Simon in R3.

Therefore because I  had been towards the top of the list in first 2 tasks I was soon called. I got what for me is a good launch and flew the course accurately without any mistakes but was disappointed to only get a 22.54; no better than I would have expected in a league comp from a lower height. Maybe more ballast?

Steve was soon to fly and did a 16.1 which was reasonable. However Thomas Dylla threw in a 13.71 which stuffed everyone, it cost Steve 143 points and even took 194 points off the eventual winner Denis Duchesne who flew a Cyril throughout the contest.

Thus I scored 608.3, Steve 856.3, Mark 639.5 for 21.66, Simon 659.1 for 20.80, Bill 692.1 for 19.81 and Ken 575.6 for only 23.82 for some reason?  his lowest score of the contest.

Round 2 speed followed immediately, if you were not ready, tough you would lose your score. Denis Duchesne won this with a 13.46 which turned out to be the quickest of the contest, which again stuffed a lot of people except Jens Buchert  who was eventually 2nd  he only lost 7.4 points to Denis. Denis is a former World Champion from 1992 in Israel which goes to show you don’t have be a young gun to win. Steve was now flying the Fosa instead of the Cyril which turned out to be slightly slower, maybe due the not so good air, so he got 797.2 for a 16.99 costing him 203 points.

From what information we could gather it appeared that Jiri Baudis  the Fosa/Cyril designer was flying his new Fosa development model at a much higher wing loading, the technique was to get as much speed as possible on the line then ping off at a lower height than we would have expected. Compared with the original Fosa, the span is increased to 3.25m with a wider wing chord, longer moment arm and a new wing profile. If you want to be competitive, new models come out so thick and fast these days it is impossible to keep up.

For myself I got a slightly better time of 21.63 from what I thought was not such a good run as in R1 giving me 632.2 points, Ken 19.6 for 687.8, Mark  22.27 for 605.3 and Simon 19.95 but only got 375.7 because of a 300 point penalty for crossing the safety line. Unfortunately Bill made a mistake at Base B and did not complete his run. As this was the first task of R2 it meant the damage prevented him from taking any further part in R2, potentially depriving him of a further 2000 points.

Bill was not the only one as former World Champion Andreas Bohlen flying a Shooter made a basic error at Base A, touching a wingtip and totalling his model; thus also losing all points in R2. It’s a tough old game in F3B if you make a mistake, especially if you do it in the first task of a round. When Bill asked him if he would repair his Shooter the reply was “I don’t repair I get a new model” Bill was interested in buying the bits but the French beat him to it.

To finish the day off it was R2 distance; I felt sorry for the guys pressing the buttons as they had been doing nothing else without a break since just after 10-00am when R1 duration finished.
Mark flying distance with Ken and Steve assisting Bill is checking the lights to confirm the turn.

Things improved for both Steve and Ken both registering 1000 points with Ken getting 3 extra legs on former World Champion Reinhard Liese. Mark also did better with 800 points but unfortunately doing something which he admitted he shouldn’t by trying to make a low downwind turn at Base B  damaging his model. Simon and I scored 650 and 666.7 points respectively.

Unfortunately for me in trying for an extra leg low down towards Base B  the wind got under the wing and tipped it over, partly damaging the fuz neat the canopy. However Steve managed to zap and splint it together with fibreglass tape so I could finish R2 with it on Sunday morning.

Thus day one finished at about 6-45pm having completed 2 rounds except for R2 duration with 64 competitors taking part. Therefore 9 duration slots, 36 distance slots and 128 speed runs  had been completed during the day so by the time we had packed up to go to the hotel we had been on the field for over 12 hours.

Unfortunately I am unable to give the times and landing bonuses because the website has not provided a full set of results, only the actual points gained, the same applies to the number of legs in distance.

Day 2 Sunday followed the same pattern with the wind strength increasing slightly but still with sunshine most of the time.

The first task was to complete R2 with duration; Ken was up in the first slot gaining 921.1 points. Simon was in the very next slot so we had to be ready and on the ball, he scored 921.4. Steve was able to get an almost perfect score with 998.6 points. Again without a break it was my turn but the air was poor, however I thought I had done OK and got a 95 landing bonus with most of the others landing at about the same time, however I missed seeing Andreas Kunz landing well after me so I only gathered 740.7 points. Mark finished with 711.4. Due to Bill damaging his model he did not score anything in R2.

There had been a suggestion that due to the number of helpers available R3 distance might no be flown, duration taking its place instead, however, enough were found so duration dropped to allow an earlier finish.

Because of this I opted to fly the Dingo to avoid the chance of further damage to the Crossfire which in the event of another heavy landing, might turn a minor repair into a major one.

Simon was first to fly in R3 distance and did pretty well for a  866.7, Mark getting 650 with his now repaired Cyril, Bill was now able to take part again and chose to fly his Ascot the model he did so well with in our league a couple of years ago gaining 600 points: I was even worse with a 478.3 flying the Dingo for the first time in the Comp. The decision not to have a test flight cost me dear as the model did not rotate but by the time I re-acted it was well up the line. I should have re-launched but did not want to put the team to the trouble as I was not in with the chance of improving my position by very much. If I had re-launched it would have been difficult to quickly assess how much extra up was needed without the model pinging off the line, requiring a further re-launch.

Both Ken and Steve scored 1000 points.

There was then a break to enable the scores to bring the running total up to date so that what would be the final task R3 speed to be flown in the now traditional reverse order. I and over 50% of the competitors were using 2.4ghz which is a big advantage as the Tx aerials do not have to be handed into Tx control. Thus there is ample time between flights to make minor adjustments to the model settings; it was to my advantage as I was able to do this with partial success on the Dingo to give me a better launch for the final flight.

Both Bill and Mark opted not to fly R3 speed as they could not improve  their positions.

So to the final shootout; needless to say I was called to fly fairly soon but not the first as I finished 55 out of 64. The Dingo launched better than in distance but I made a mistake at Base A by over rotating, the correction cost me and I finished with 26.66 for 525.3 points.

The real drama then began for Simon, we had very few problems with launching all weekend with no broken lines. Simon had three line breaks so because of the reduced to 3 minutes working time, he ran out of time half way down the course. A really disappointing and upsetting end to an excellent effort on his first, hopefully of many, international competitions, Simon finished 56th the zero costing him 7 places.

Simon will still qualify as a junior at the now confirmed 2013 World Championships to be held in Germany plus also in 2015 wherever they may be held, and possibly in 2017?

Ken was next with a time of 18.23 his best of the three giving him 774 points, he had been working all weekend to improve the Target’s launch height, all his hard work enabled him to finish a creditable 32nd  exactly half way, his best result out of the four Eurotour contests he has flown so far.

There was then a period of good air and several pilots got improved times but it soon disappeared. Andreas Bohlen had the best time of the round with a blistering 14.11, he was flying a new model called Energise, which is only two weeks into development. However, because had missed all of R2 it equally harmed those who were on contention for the top places.

Jens Buchert was in first place a few points in front of Denis Duchesne but Denis had a slightly faster time so took 1st place.

Steve also had a drama of his own; he found he had a faulty primary speed/launch 3 position switch on his Tx just as his working time started. He flew using a launch and speed forcing switch to achieve theoretical settings. However he still put in his best time of the Comp with a 15.6 giving him 904.5 points. He had been flying the Fosa at 3.8kgs in speed and 3.3kgs in distance which is rather heavy compared to standard model set ups, he still has to get the best out of it but no doubt has a lot of work on after the weekend. The poor distance in R1 with the Cyril immediately put him out of contention so he was playing catch up all weekend finishing in 14th.

Mark by opting not fly in R3 speed finished 54th but had he flown and obtained a reasonable score he could have gained about 8 places. For me and Bill the least said the better, Bill missed 4 out of the 8 scores available, 3 by missing all of R2 and the other by opting not fly R3 speed. I at least got in a full set of scores but much good it did me, my launches are still not high enough, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

As in the other two recent  forays into Europe to Belgium it was a most enjoyable weekend with an excellent team spirit, everyone helping each other throughout, the majority of the dogging was done by myself  Ken and Simon, Bill and Mark being in charge of the winches and launching with Steve most importantly doing most of the chatting.

There was basic on site catering with vouchers for free coffee, in addition it was interesting to watch the full size gliding at the end of the runway all weekend.

The winner Denis Duchesne (middle) 2nd Jens Buchert (right) and 3rd Juri Baudis left)
1st Denis Duchesne-----Cyril

2nd Jens Buchert--------Radical

3rd Jiri Baudis-----------Fosa derivative.

Fastest Speed----------- Cyril 13.46 Denis Duchesne

Best average Speed ----14.44 Thomas Dylla. Model ?

Models mainly Cyril, Fosa, Radical, Freestyler, Shooter, Evolution and Hurricane cross tail which looked to have promise.

In the past GB teams have been successful at World Championship level with one 1st, two 2nd and three 3rd individual places plus one 1st and five 2nd team places. Alas this standard has not been kept up and the recent experiences have shown we no longer have the strength in depth of pilots required to repeat the earlier successes.

Of the 64 taking part in Arnhem 32 were from Germany in several professional looking well organised teams, any one of which would be likely to achieve a better score than the best team we could have put out. These teams are formed from larger local groups who practice together and push each other all the time.

Unless we can entice back some of the best pilots from the past or encourage new blood to join us we will continue to fall further and further behind.

Over recent years we have had several new excellent pilots join us such as Tony Vale, Neil Jones, Mark Southall plus others previously, who have shown their ability by going right through the B League, when we were still running one, unfortunately they did not continue for any length of time.

Any good competent pilot can make a mark in F3B as shown by Joel West in L1 at Upton, The problem is that to attain the next level up to compete at European  let alone World level requires, of course ability, but a long term commitment and practice , practice, practice not for just a couple of seasons or so as has been the case with many for a number of years.

I hope the information in this report not only has shown what happened at the Arnhem contest but has indicated what is required to compete against the best in F3B.

F3B was the first soaring contest to be recognised by the FAI and in my opinion is still the ultimate test of pilots and models within the soaring disciplines, the thing is, are you up to it?

Compiled by Clive Needham with additional information from Steve Haley.