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- World Champs -Another Adventure!
- Tom Coussens on the World Champs
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World Champs -Another Adventure!
I agree completely with Brian’s assessment of the World Champs in Argentina. The trip there was long and arduous, especially the trip from Cordoba to Embalse; normally a 1.5-2.0 hour trip took some of us 4.5 hours, even with maps and GPS! But we did get there and immediately discovered that our accommodations were in a beautiful setting. Julie and I roomed with Alex A. and Bob Sifleet, both of which turned out to be great roomies. The “cabana” we stayed in was well worn, but adequate. The two big issues were: mostly cold showers and very bad mattresses, which meant parts of your body, were resting on wooden slats. The real bonus to being in cabana “6” was, that without effort, we met team members from almost every country as they paraded through to purchase all of the various parts and supplies that Alex had brought along.
Our first trip to the flying site revealed an impressive expanse of open, but extremely dusty fields (made Eloy look really clean!). But that is not where we flew – the actual contests were flown much closer to the lake and in areas surrounded by trees. The lake did become a factor in the World Cup contest, but I don’t think it was an issue during the W.C. The organizers did move the flight line when necessary and for the most part flights landed safely. However they did not provide portable toilets at the relocated sites, which was a real problem for the many women at the champs.
Our team used the world cup as a tune-up and a chance to get a feel for the quality of timers and to make sure that our chase equipment and supporters were in tune. Jim Parker flew very well in F1A. In F1B and C the contest was halted after 3 rounds as the winds suddenly blew extremely hard (even for Texas). So wisely the team (except for Jim) retired from additional flights in the pre-WC contest. Testing days were numbered, in that wind and very dense fog left only small windows of useful time to make final trim adjustments. The saving grace was that the day before the WC was absolutely beautiful and the whole team took great advantage of the opportunity. The World Champs themselves had very good weather, except for a very strange wall of wind that arrived about half way through the second round and lasted deep into the third round on F1A day. After that, calm was the problem. F1B day had reasonable breezes with some very good thermals. F1C as one of the strangest flying days I have experienced, with mostly calm and very little thermal activity that was detectable. The first round in C resulted in a lot of drops on a four minute flight. There was absolutely no buoyancy! If it were a five minute flight, I doubt if anyone would have made it!
The team that represented the U.S. was a great and cohesive bunch. Our team management (Blake, Hector and Tiff) and supporters worked very hard and efficiently to make sure that everything within their control was in place. Without all of those efforts we would not have had a successful outing. I want to especially mention Brian Van Nest, Jim Parker and Tom Coussens who chased for the F1C team. As far as I know they caught every one of my flights during the rounds, with some spectacular foot work and mad dashes. Not one flight came back with any of the nasty soy bean dirt, which when mixed with castor oil becomes something similar to JB Weld. Great job guys! And to all of my team mates, we really enjoyed our time together both socially and in the competition. Randy Secor and Mike Roberts flew with great determination and made possible the F1C second place team finish – way to go guys! Most importantly to all of the wives (especially Julie) who have backed their husbands in this demanding sport, a tip of the hat.
Finally we appreciate the efforts of the organizers. They did a fantastic job from opening ceremony to the closing banquet. In every event of this magnitude there are issues, but Daniel and his group did their best to accommodate the needs of all participants. Having said that, I would like to mention a few items that should be considered by all future World Championship organizers: 1) have alternate flight lines established and in place prior to the event, 2) provide portable toilet facilities that WORK and are cleaned regularly (at the US NATS these are on a trailer so that they can be move with the flight line), and finally 3) adjust meal times (especially the evening meal) to accommodate the fact that contestants are on the field very early in the morning and need to eat well before they hit the sack.
Tom Coussens on the WC - originally in FB
Tom Coussens wrote the articles below for facebook and they are so descriptive on what goes on at World Champs we wanted to share them with a wider audience. Even though Tom is an engineer he benefited from having an Mom as an English teacher, so that together with Tom's natural enthusiasm and understanding of FF makes a great read.
OK, anybody who is even semi-literate in accessing the internet and is even vaguely interested in this arcane corner of the world, knows that the US team achievement at the WC was, como se dice, mixed...
First of all I want to acknowledge the organizers in their excellent calls in line changes. We moved four times during the day, plus once for the fly-offs, and in my opinion they called them spot-on. And the fields were excellent at each location. For the most part the chases were pretty uneventful for our two quad-runners. I chased one down on foot on one round!
And so the day...
We arrived at the field and put in a couple test flights and all looked ready. But the breeze was pretty firm in the direction of the lake to the north, so the CD called a line change about 2 KM north. So we packed up the cars and got situated, but by the time the round started the winds were calm to light and variable.
Rd 1 - Brian towed up at the first millisecond of the hooter. In short order he launched high and cruised to an easy 3:30 max. Jim strung out and towed upwind and cleared traffic. Upwind was uphill, so it seemed best to just stay put and pull a Lost Hills and just zing it off, and he got a great launch and also cruised to an easy max. Bob got going just a little later as the air warmed and the breeze actually started south. A bad launch resulted in a very low glide, but he managed to ride the bumps below 15 M for a max.
Rd 2 - more light and variable - The CD called a line change 200 M to the north to enable better visibility now that the drift had changed north. Once we resumed, Brian continued to follow his routine and launch immediately, cleared traffic and sought the bumps. He found a wafty light thermal that took his short Stamov away, climbing slowly to DT. Jim strung out and towed up toward the south and stood watching some guy struggle for control and even Per was having difficulty, as was Roland. The guy towed in and Jim decided to tow up. Within a minute, suddenly all hell broke loose. Jim's ship was flailing about in extremely strong turbulence and Jim was now almost a spectator. Suddenly a massive, cold gale blew in from the south! It was some kind of front and Jim was in the middle of the thermal activity at the shear line! The ship shot straight up and Jim instinctively pulled hard and released, but because he hadn't grabbed the ball and snapped the line loose, the hook didn't unlatch! He RC DT'd and Bill and Tiff recovered the ship well downwind. OK, one attempt. While we were recovering the ship, Sifleet straight-towed up in the breeze and launched and dropped badly. It looked like our beautiful day was turning into a survival contest.
Jim checked out the ship and hooked up. I suggested that I launch the ship, so I stood holding his model in the cold wind while Jim stood stock still and felt the breeze coming in. Something was grating at me; the 2003 Junior Finals at Muncie - the kids were made to fly in a wind this bad...they'd feel a calm and tow up but the wind was still howling at the model 50M downwind...they'd launch and the ship would zoom-rudder into the ground...or was it...I couldn't think straight. In the middle of my thoughts, Jim pulls on the line and the model zooms upward, and the zoom rudder kicks in...lost control! He released as the glider skimmed the ground still latched...a zero for the round. Wow. It doesn't get much tougher than this. He remarked later that there are some things you should experience, but this wasn't one of them! I was really glad his wife Cathy was with us. As usual, she did and said the right things.
So we soldiered on. Rd-3 -the CD's call another line change about 1 1/2 Km north to account for the stiff breeze. Brian is establishing a rhythm that cranks out maxes. He asks Alex Andriukov to set up his thermal indicators upwind to help pick thermals in the breeze and finds a great one in the wind. Jim strings out and the breeze begins to lessen, but we still ask Alex for his help. Jim launches in a good thermal, but the ship is not happy. It doesn't want to hook and blows through it to noodle around in the junk. Another drop, about 17 seconds. Jimmy adds wash-in before the next round. Bob launches his long ship which waffles around and bores through the narrow thermals and drops.
Rd 4 - Brian, Jim and Bob all max as the gale turns into a light breeze to the south again. Noticed a pattern that if ships launch late and upwind of the higher markers, they drop like stones. Jim, Brian and Bob make good maxes.
Rd 5 - We move to the other end of the line and Brian gets a squeaker - 3:02! Jim lines up next to Aussie Vin Morgan and we watch him get a good launch. Jim tows up trying to mark the lift, but eventually finds a good one and maxes. Bob piggies a marker and maxes.
Rd 6 - Everyone's on the ground! it's warm and still and the drift is about nil! It's like the 9:00 AM Lost Hills transition, but it's happening at 2:30 PM! Jim finally tows up and it's everything he can do to keep the model in the air. At one point he tumbles across the ground, having stumbled in a rabbit hole, but he's OK. Finally a gaggle of ships starts climbing out and he hooks up with them. The breeze is so light I foot chase to a point a couple hundred M from the line. Bob starts using his Buntbone but it's not trimmed well for the thermals here and after a low launch, drops badly.
Rd 7, the breeze is now established to the west toward other fields with some trees. All three guys max easily in well-defined thermals.
Thus ends Jim's WC, but Brian has broken the string and maxed out, his first time in four teams! 16 guys, including all three Russians max out. I'm so happy for Peter Allnutt and Tony Van Eldik as well! Noticeably absent are Makarov and Stamov. The five minute round is a gimme, and 12 guys max. At 6 PM with only 1/2 hr of daylight left, they start the 7 min fly-off. Brian gets out his Stamov flapper, and the big guns are out with flapper and low-drag airfoil ships. A gaggle of guys launches after about 3 minutes and they look pretty good. But then Brian tows in! He quickly tows up is long standard ship and settles in as we are treated to a mano-a-mano duel between Koglot and Titov. Roland zings his ship to a towering, whistling height that has the crowd shouting and cheering. Seconds later, downwind, Yuri launches and OUTCLIMBS Roland! A few minutes later, Yuri and his posse stroll back to the line, arms around each others' shoulders. And the scores are announced: Yuri 1st, then another guy I couldn't pronounce, then Per Findahl! Then Roland. We're all dumbfounded; it seemed as though Roland was the king awaiting coronation...
The first three places are taken by LDA's. What's Sergei thinking, as his team wins gold, a Russian wins individual gold, but with an LDA...the waters are definitely not settled in the flapper/LDA debate...
So F1A is in the books, definitely a bucket list item. Argentina is a fantastic place and Embalse a world-class venue. Looking forward to F1B and C, but from the vantage point of a quad runner downwind!
F1B and F1C
OK, not being terribly literate on F1B and C, my write-ups are somewhat abridged. Having spent both comps on a quad runner 500M downwind meant I was isolated from the events somewhat. What I can say is that in both events the excellence of some fliers was evident from that far away: in B, of course, Alex's flights were unequaled. The conditions were extremely tough to pick air, and it was amazing to watch ships go every which way and find all kinds of lift away from the line. Equally impressive was how fickle the air was. Wakefields that looked safe in the first 90 sec were down a minute later. Seemed like a crap shoot. Dave Saks flew a great game but that fickle air handed him a 17 sec drop. Bob Tymchek dropped a couple of flights. Tough turn when the team seemed like they were on rails the first four rounds. In the end, Alex made it to the last dance and started higher than the rest. Jim and I were on one quad and Brian was charging along on another. We stopped occasionally to flap, as he and the rest got low rather quickly. And then, there we were standing helplessly as Alex's ship headed straight for a row of trees along a field boundary, madly praying that it would shoot the gap, but it snagged a tree about 18 ft up. At that moment I somehow knew that World Champion would not be the 2011 title for Alex, and the scores bore that truth. Had he made it through, the ship would easily flown over 11 seconds more. Kudos to Blake, as he used a thermal pole and a badge lanyard to capture the ship and remove it from the tree undamaged!
So we chasers went back to the cottage, showered and went for dinner at Nuevo Ranchito, dining on Chorizo de Bif - STEAK!!! At about 9:30 we get a call; it's Blake and he sounds like my son Ben, just plain thrilled! He got word that the US Wake team got the Bronze! Wish I could have seen him, as he sounded like he jumping out of his skin!
F1C was the calmest, most benign day of them all. Only one round did the models even leave the field. Winds were virtually calm, then seemed to establish in one direction, only to calm and start in another. Toward the end of the day, dust devils came through the line. In one round, the lift was so massive that Mike and Randy flew in virtually the same thermal. Once again, however, the air was amazingly fickle and things were tough from the start. Our first flyer in Rd 1 missed the max by a few seconds. After that there were squeakers and drops here and there. For me, the variations in approaches to F1C were fascinating. Folders, flappers, folder-flappers, geared, non-geared. The flappers never ceased to stop me in my tracks, and were the source of some spectacular dorks. Couple of ships launched on bunt, nearly killed a helper on the flight line. Once again the Slovenians had the star of the show, a full-carbon folder-flapper. The top surface of each panel is a single, unbroken piece. The bottoms surface has a split line at about 50% chord, so when the panels are folded, the airfoils simply flex and the D-boxes fit almost flush against each other, resulting in a thinner section during climb-out. And the launches are ram-rod straight, turning 180 deg on climb so that the model is pointed downwind at bunt and deploy. Amazing.
So the American's put up flights, Alex held a flapping school (scoop, scoop!) for the wives and supporters deployed downwind to try to help low models, which seemed to be the norm during mid-day. Randy had a flight that went all over the field and landed almost a minute short. Faust stayed clean through it all, but by no means was it easy! Finally my sedentary lifestyle caught up with me as I tore after Randy's model on the fourth round. I managed catch it, but strained my left hamstring.
So Faust stayed clean and we hung around in the warm afternoon waiting for the 5-min fly-off. While we were waiting we heard great news that USA won Team Silver! Blake and Tiff bought several bottles of cold beer and the team celebrated! The fly-off started and Faust's launch was clean and very high, but had a stall at the top and did a long downwind run. The Slovenian model burped on the way up and started low, but those F1A airfoils saved the day, as it rode a low layer enough for a max. Fausts ship flew in that same air but did not benefit from the support and dropped 10 sec. So the USA day was over, but of course we hung around to watch the duel of the titans, a 9-min round at 6 PM, and were not disappointed! Some of the patterns were fantastic! Verbitzky and the Slovenian elicited roars and applause from the crowd! In the end Eugene took it home! And China was second!
And suddenly it was over and cars rapidly departed the field. Thus began the party! We showered and joined the French at their cottage for wine and cheese, and then to Las Brasas for an outstanding dinner. Tonight is the awards ceremony and the banquet.
Parting words- To this humble squatter-helper, no finer time could be had. The venue is great, chasing is pretty easy, accommodations are good and if you tire of the hotel food, the town has some great places to eat! The organizers must have had someone praying for them, as all three events finished the same day, no morning fly-offs. Line changes were spot on and resulted in fair sporting outcomes. The timers were by and large very good. The conditions were very challenging for each class, and truly, excellence prevailed. F1A is a sport in transition with low-drag launches and courses were definitely set for the future. The field was awash in excitement at the battle of the flappers and LDA's and we were blown away by their performances.
And all of the sportsmen and supporters by and large were easy-going and cordial, such that the whole experience was generally pleasant. Gotta say, I really enjoyed the Mongolian team. Nothing but good will, and very good flying!
The USA team and contingent were fantastic! Well-organized with few if any surprises on the field. Blake and Tiff were fantastic, always enthusiastic, approachable, with great attention to detail, constantly looking after team members and supporters alike. And the consistent attitude of supporters and non-event team members was, "How can I help?", never "that's not my job". It was a wonderful experience and I'm wistful already.
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