Monday, March 8, 2010
I left at 5 AM to pick up Bart Rotteveel in Rotterdam. The trip down was different from previous years in the sense that we had quite a number of traffic jams south of Paris. The Saturday was supposed to be one of the infamous ‘black Saturdays’ and Friday was apparently part of this. The road navigation system guided us over Le Mans. A good choice, since this part of France had hardly any cars on the road. Before driving to the camping in Pas de Jeu, we visited the huge Le Clerk hypermarché in Thouars for fuelling up, some drinks and my traditional yearly supply of acetone. After putting up our tents we headed off to watch the last rounds in F1B and C.
F1B and C day was blessed with gorgeous weather. Sunny, warm and no wind to speak of, well, for Poitou standards that is. The thermals were sometimes huge and models could be sucked up to great altitudes. Where the core of the thermal was, that’s where the model went. This was in all directions imaginable. Watching other models was the name of the game as real trash movers were scarce, just a couple each round. In between, models were either down short of a max or scraping every small bit of lift available to make it. Eventually less than 10 made it to the fly off, which started late at 19.15. The starting line was re positioned perpendicular to the wind and timekeepers assigned. One nice patch of air passed by at the F1C end of the line in the very first minute, and most of both C and B ships maxed on that side. The second fly off, Ken Faux went up first but the air was not very good. Later Neil Allen went up in what appeared to be better air. Finally Pieter de Boer launched, but the launch was off vertical and the model pulled out low for third place. In F1B Kevin Lamers won before Geoff Stringer who DT’d early and Richard Ulderink. Both young Dutch flew consistently all day with careful air picking and well‐trimmed models. Even without May 99 rubber competitions can be won.
Windfinder had already forecasted a weather change. And like clockwork the sun, clouds, wind and rain forecast unfolded during the day. The first rounds were blessed with overcast skies and light winds, even a bit of rain but nothing serious. As a consequence, thermals and downers decided to wake up late. A well‐trimmed model and good launch was a guarantee for a max in the first two rounds. A radio DT was helpful to stay clear from the downwind sunflower field. In the third round the sun was piercing through the high cloud cover and thermals were getting bigger and stronger. Many maxed, but this was about to change in the sixth round. Wind picked up in a manner of minutes to unpleasant levels carrying the models some 2 kilometres away. Many decided to wait on the ground and only a few mastered the conditions to pick the air on tow. Thermals were accompanied by fierce turbulence and some models were damaged when towed‐in after a failed circle tow attempt. Needless to say, many spoiled their clean score after the fifth round and only 12 out of 78 flyers could prepare for a windy fly off. At the start of the 10 minute slot, both Allard and Kosonoshkin went up and a line cross was barely avoided. Both fell back after a quick circle to monitor those upwind. Kosonoshkin soon launched without any thermal indication from others but the air was not there and he had to settle for a 2 min 20 flight. Both on the far left and right of the line, Phil Mitchel and Gerd Aringer found solid air to make the 5 minutes. The rest had to settle for far less. Allard launched in the very last minute but the air was not there and managed only just over three minutes for a 6th spot. Soon it started to rain and the deciding fly off was flown in poor light conditions. Luckily the wind dropped, the rain stopped and the models could be seen to the ground. Phil made a long dash upwind and made a perfect launch in what seemed to be reasonable air. Aringer launched his flapper soon after but the pattern was off and height gain less than Mitchell’s. It looked like the win was in the pocket for Phil, but close to the ground his model started a stall and fell a few seconds short of Aringer.
After this deciding flight we headed for the pizzeria in Thouars. Cooking our own food in the wet and dark of the camping in Pas de Jeu not being our favourite past time.
We enjoyed our trip like we did the times before. Not many made it over from the World Champs apart from some of the French, Brits and Aussies. Nevertheless, the level of competition was high and produced some worthy winners. On our way back we didn’t have any congestion whatsoever, the traffic jams being on the southbound lanes. I was able to catch up on sleep. We left at 9 AM and arrived in Rotterdam at 4 PM.