Day one started with what feels like the longest and hardest walk in the world which depressingly, is only a kilometre. We set up camp on the crest and tried to get started as soon as we could with the random number generator singling out it’s first Spanish number for the weekend and Jorge Medina got us underway. He must have been shitting himself as the crest is a daunting place to fly for the first time in a social gathering, let alone a major comp! I was 4th to fly and it was a bit of a test flight after playing with the CG on my Willow2 and not having had the time to test it. It didn’t go well at all and left me way down the pecking order after a 49.68 in sub 40 air with Mark Treble’s 35.28 with his iridescent Toxic setting the fastest time. I immediately modified my ballast to send the CG forward and hoped that it would behave better from round 2 onwards. Fingers crossed!
Mark Treble and Jon Edison let us use their timing gear for the Welsh Open and it is such a breath of fresh air in the CD chair! The Bluetooth speaker saves your voice and the auto functions enabled us to try to manage the buzzers on bases from the flight line. It worked really well and I’d like to thank all the pilots for their help, understanding and brilliant work on the buzzers.
The addition of ballast and a shifting forward of the CG made a massive difference to the Willow2 and my second round was a much better flown 42.91 although I was still too light and added as much ballast as I was comfortable to carry which was also the last time I changed the ballast over the weekend! As I’ve mentioned before I’ve given myself a couple of targets or benchmarks to beat. Well after two rounds I had given the 3 Whitesheet boys a massive head start! Round two was taken by Joel West with a 33.64.
Round 3 I had finally started to get similar results to Tony Livingstone and Daniel Schneider who were flying either side of me. I got my first sub 40 time of the competition with a 39.31 and was soundly beaten by Fritz Donker-Duyviz from Holland with a fantastic 33.12! It was so good to see so many fantastic pilots from across Europe beating the slope and the wind into submission!
Daniel Schneider from Germany held the early round-lead in round 4 with a fantastic 35.18 which was rudely pipped by Joel West a few flights later with 34.17. Joel’s time stood until Inaki Elizondo blitzed the course with an amazing 32.51 second run. I was still chugging along with a mediocre 42.01 which doesn’t score much against a 32.
The last round for Friday was the 5th round and the conditions were easing off a little bit by now and were also affected by quite a bit more South in the South Easterly breeze. It was quite a challenging round but I managed to get some of the better air and flew a 41.37 second run which enabled me to have clawed my way from 46th after round one to 34th at the end of day one. Joel West cemented his day one lead by winning the 5th round with a very tidy 34.14.
The top 3 at the completion of day 1 were Joel West (1), Inaki Elizondo (2) and Peter Gunning (3).
The team Standings after day 1 were, Mickeys Massive (1), Ye Lo Que Hay (2) and GBU (3)
The forecast for Saturday wasn’t particularly flash leading up to the Welsh Open, however the morning dawned bright and dry and we made our way to the westerly slope of Mickeys and got set up. Then the rain came and we hunkered down to wait for the rain and clag to pass. The Random Number generator had chosen a second Spanish Number to kick off day 2 and Marcelino Punal had the honour of first pilot up at just after midday.
Simon Thornton started the day as he meant to go on, taking the round win with a blistering 35.93. Inaki Elizondo and Martin Newnham were hot on his heels but everyone had been put on notice. Simon was coming to get them! Oblivious to all the front running shenanigans, I wobbled in a lacklustre 48.78 and made no forward progress. The West slope doesn’t like reversals (Turn Style) much so a smoother Energy Management style was called for.
Round 7 saw Richard Bago set the pace with a 36.32 and just hold off two of our Austrian visitors in Kurt Planitzer and Stafan Fraundorfer with 37.xx each. Kurt is a seasoned F3Ffer and Stefan was having his second or third F3F event having lots of Electric Pylon racing experience (F5D) which showed in his very aggressive and skilful flying style. I managed to place 7th in the round with my 39.56 and was well pleased with myself!
There were two EPIC flights in round 8. Martin Newnham took the round win with 32.59 and Greg Dakin probably couldn’t believe his eyes when his own extremely fast time of 32.87 was beaten. Stefan Bertschi (Switzerland) and Ronnie Lampe both had stellar runs to grab 3rd and 4th in the round. I was getting the hang of the required style for the hill and posted a 41.19 in 18th place.
I had another really nice flight in the 9h round and was on track for another low 40’s flight until I missed the base (cut) on the 9th turn and had to loop back which cost me 3 or 4 seconds giving me a 44.28 which was still good enough for 14th in the round and more forward progress. Simon Thornton kept plugging away and won the round with a 38.24, just beating Jose-Louis Alvarez and Keith Wood.
At the end of day 2 I had managed to scramble up to 28th position with a few good flights. Simon Thornton had closed the gap to Joel west and was now only 90 points adrift with Martin Newnham hot on their heels in 3rd 45 points behind Simon. Inaki Peter and Greg rounded out the top 6 with the teams having a bit of a change-up too. Mickeys Massive still held the lead with GBU hot in pursuit followed by Ye Lo Que Hay.
I thought that our chances of getting any flying done on Sunday were slim to none so I wasn’t even thinking about flying while we gorged ourselves on Indian food at the Natraj in Bridgend. I woke on Sunday to a very surprising sky and forecast and bolted to the Crest for another pack-horse session. Massive thanks to all the guys that helped drag the course to the slope and back over the weekend!
Kevin and I chose to move the course about 150yds north from where we flew on Friday and found a place where we could just squeeze the course onto a cliff face. We were a little bit concerned that some might dive straight into a rocky outcrop coming out of Base A. There was nothing to worry about as nobody hit that particular piece of earth……
The Random number generator picked on another Spaniard for Sunday, this time it was Inaki Elizondo’s turn to go first. He wasn’t particularly lucky as he did a massive double-cut on base A and carded a disappointing 51.88. I tried reversals again for this slope but they just didn’t work and gave me a 48.57 with a few ‘squirrely’ moments to consider. ‘EM’ for the next one then. Greg Dakin managed to find a mid-morning thermal square on the face for his 34.36 second run and bound his way towards the top 3 with that! Lazaro Martinez had a great flight to go sub 40 and hold off Pete Gunning and Kevin Newton.
Simon Thornton must have woken up smelling a mixture of fear and blood in the air. He was on a mission and took round 12 by nearly 3 seconds with a 37.77 second run. Alejandro Gil Garcia beat Kevin Newton and Kurt Planitzer to second place by 5 hundredth’s of a second followed by John Phillips and Graeme Mahoney who had had a very good Welsh open and was in with a shot of a top ten finish! Speaking of top 10, I got a 43.39 with the Willow2 which gave me 10th place in the round. We were starting to get a few significant ‘dead spots’ in the conditions and some pilots were feeling the (lack of) effects.
The ‘EM’ turns in round 12 paid off for me again with another 10th place 43.40. Simon Thornton clearly wanted the title of Welsh Open Champ as he was on form again and held off Joel (39.36) with a rapid 37.24 while Dave Rumble got his best round place with 3rd in 40.31 seconds. Inaki had gone from bad to worse when he misjudged the height of the ground and clipped the cliff on the way TO base A. He was then followed by Keith Wood doing exactly the same thing. I felt bad for them, but at the same time was relieved that they hadn’t hit the rocky outcrop we warned people about in the briefing!!
Round 13 was our final round. It turned out to be our only weather effected round of all 13 over the 3 days! Tony Livingstone was on the flight line getting ready to launch while I was willing him to fly as it didn’t matter how wet I got, I was going to fly IN the rain rather than in the soggy mess AFTER. Unfortunately Tony didn’t launch and we started the timer for the 30 minutes allowance to continue the round or call it a day. So we all had 30 minutes to ponder the results. Would we continue? Had Joel done enough to hold off Simon? Had Martin done enough to beat Pete to third? Had Greg beaten both Martin and Pete to third? Had I done enough to beat Tony Livingstone and Martin Drewett? I knew I hadn’t beaten Graeme, he’s stepped up a level.
27 minutes into the rain delay, the weather cleared and we were able to get started again. As predicted, Tony, Daniel and I got the soggy air and posted 50’s and 51’s. Joel managed to beat Simons time by 0.7 seconds but no-one was expecting Peter Gunning to stand up and be greeted by a monster thermal and post a 32.84 absolutely obliterating the rest of the field. Until that flight Martin Newnham looked odds-on for third as he took 4rd in the round with 40.17 behind Kurt and Inaki. Greg Dakin wasn’t to be outdone as he took 6th in the round behind Graeme Mahoney and Mark Treble.
Before we crawled back to the cars I scrambled down the cliff to retrieve a bag of bits that used to be Scott Ravenscroft’s Caldera. I’m not a big fan of litter and offered to get it for him after a complete radio failure left him powerless to do anything but watch as his plan accelerated into the cliff base.
I had a fantastic weekend. It was awesome to see so many pilots from across Europe and the UK and amazing to get so many rounds flown over the 3 days. I was really quite impressed with the Willow2 enabling me to have a few top 10 round finished and also flitting between reversals and EM with relative ease.
Massive congratulations To Inaki Elizondo for taking the fastest time of the competition with his blistering 32.51!
Congrats also to the winning team of Joel West, Peter Gunning and Stefan Bertschi: Mickeys Massive
Exceptionally well done to our Welsh Open Champion of 2015 …….. Simon Thornton flying his Shinto!!
Second place was a valiant Joel West with a Freestyler and in Third after smashing the final round was Peter Gunning!
Thanks again to all that Helped. Special thanks to Kevin Newton for organising and running the event and to Mark Treble, Jon Edison and Rich Bago for their help in the middle when needed and for the timing gear. I’m going to see if I can get some for the SWSA!
Below is the final results and the complete spreadsheet will be available by email, possibly on Kevin’s site, Mike Shellim’s site or hopefully I can figure out how to make it available on my blog.
1 Mickeys Massive
3 Ye Lo Que Hay
6 All Stars
7 Tea Swillers
9 Fake 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
6 Inaki Elizondo 10417.80
7 Mark Treble 10335.98
8 Mike Evans 10250.86
9 Richard Bago 10249.23
10 Stefan Bertschi 10210.18
11 Graeme Mahoney 10194.47
12 Kurt Planitzer 10186.40
13 Ronnie Lampe 10074.38
14 Kevin Newton 10051.00
15 Jose luis Alvarez 10012.71
16 Daniel Schneider 9959.05
17 John Phillips 9953.30
18 Stefan Fraundorfer 9941.96
19 Stefan Bernardy 9857.97
20 Lazaro Martinez 9793.96
21 Fernando Moro 9776.22
22 Frits Donker Duyvis 9759.22
23 Keith Wood 9715.88
24 Clayton Landells 9678.49
25 Jorge Medina 9673.09
26 Tony Livingstone 9627.25
27 Martin Drewett 9583.61
28 Reto Blumer 9569.39
29 Inigo Herrera 9548.21
30 Dave Rumble 9528.69
31 John Treble 9516.02
32 Alejandro Gil Garcia 9486.13
33 Mike Shellim 9447.50
34 Paul Stubley 9392.71
35 Andy Burgoyne 9373.67
36 Ewan Maxwell 9370.90
37 Erik Heijne 9348.00
38 Christian Schnepfleitner 9261.29
39 Scott Ravenscroft 9220.91
40 Rick Ruijsink 9047.12
41 Marcelino Punal 8956.90
42 Jon Edison 8837.83
43 Jason Bioletti 8735.97
44 Ian Mason 8634.13
45 Mark Abbotts 7254.93
46 Tony Robertson 6185.69
47 Frank Hulton 5776.88
48 Vic Eldridge 3983.62