What a 3 days! The Welsh open has a habit of leaving you feeling weathered and exhausted but with 3 days of flying, alternating from the Crest to Mickies and back to the Crest on the final day, there were broad smiles on the faces of all Pilots.
First of all the organising team, I can’t praise these guys well enough. Day 1 had us all skipping merrily over to the Crest well before the start time and we found Knewt and Mark Treble fumbling on the start line. I have to admit t being puzzled at first but the new timing gear they were setting up more than proved itself. Automated working time, count down, lap counter and round time- also combined with the times being show on the safety line- you can’t get much better can you?
The low key highly effective approach went through the full weekend, even the Buzzing was organised without the use of cattle prods.
The conditions over a total of 13 racing rounds were always ‘good’ and often challenging but the wind stayed between 8 and 14ms al weekend and so the race did not become a contest of these with the most Tungsten.
Day 1 saw Joel West show just how to fly a reversals course. With the rest of the cream was steadily rising to the top myself and fellow willow flyer Clayton were finding out how important practising on course is. I’m convinced that I was spending as much time off course than on it in the first rounds.
Day 2 saw us move to the far side of Mickies, only a sharp shower stopped us from starting on time and the course was set up for an immediate start. Perhaps it was the bleary eyes starting to emerge but day 2 saw the first models damaged that I can remember.
I had been delighted with the performance of the Willow 2 on day 1 and into day 2, only my thumbs and a set up that was feeling too soft to race (Devon set up) were holding the model back. Then 4 rounds in I saw Frank and Martin fly in front of me and a thermal showed itself for them. I launched climbed beautifully, came on course a little early to make use of the air and off she went. 16 seconds and 6 of my most enjoyable legs of F3F I can remember. The Willow screamed, I pulled her round as fast as I could and she shot around the course. Unfortunately the thermal passed too quickly and I slowed down before my PB was safe.
With the usual grumbles of Thermal lotteries from different pilots, the skill of Martin, Simon and the Dark lord Dakin were a master class and whatever the lift they made the most of it.
Day 3 and it was a less than merry skip along the Crest to Mid Wales. The Welsh open Marathon was proving tough, our number was dropping off and mistakes coming in. My own was to simply hit the hill as I tried to run along the edge. A cartwheel and wing recovery later and the only damage was the servo tray coming loose- tough toys these Willows! The number of pilot mistakes seemed to step up again but the reaction to this by the Dark Lord was to fly the hardest and best flight of the day in his last round- stunning!
The weekend is a great chance to see other models and modellers. My feeling this year in the UK is that the new models have mainly come from different ways to bolt various Baudis parts together. I love the look of the Radical Jazz flown by Daniel. I didn't realise just how many top 10 places Clayton achieved with his Willow 2- really confirms to me that it's my thumbs and not the model holding me back!
Seeing a Spline in the flesh was a treat. The different set up and ballasting philosophies from non UK from the continental pilots was good to see. Less ballast and flown with more ‘ping’ to the turn was reminiscent of the Sting guys coming over. It also showed that choosing a method and flying it well is probably more important than the method.
So after 3 days the winners were very worthy and a great competition was well run in fantastic conditions which sort out the best pilots.
1 Simon Thornton 10949.04
2 Joel West 10873.91
3 Peter Gunning 10780.76
4 Martin Newnham 10606.39
5 Greg Dakin 10602.92