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Monday, December 03, 2007

Almost Red Hot BERG takes 2nd spot at HTL#7

HTL #7 Group photo

Peter Joffe and I arrived at the Heidelberg field at about 07h30 on Sunday morning to find Derek, Martie and Alan Smith already there discussing where to set up the winch line. The wind was blowing quite hard out of the NW and there was a tractor still cutting one section of grass in the SW corner of the field. The majority of the field had already been cut.

Derek and his sister Che

The farm, situated just a few km form Heidelberg is owned by Derek's sister Che. The field that Che had prepared for us was ideal, with plenty of space and nice short freshly cut grass. To the N and NE there was a ridge of hills about 2 km away. Despite early reservation about downdrafts etc. these hills had no adverse effect on the conditions at all. In fact, they probably had some effect on creating some rather interesting and challenging conditions.

Peter drove down to the fence line at the far end of the field and the measured 250 meters back. And that is where were started unpacking. The rest of the mob continued arriving and it was not long before the teams had established their positions and their camps were set up.In the mean time Lionel and Gert set out the winch and turnaround lines so the teams could get their winches set up.

After the Pilots briefing to once again familiarise ourselves with the Triathlon, Saw Tooth event the comp got under way at about 10h00.

The wind had not let up at all and was blowing a steady 15 knots. There was talk all along the winch line that this was going to be a short event with no lift about. But, it was soon apparent that there was in fact quite a bit of wave lift and almost everyone in the first slot managed to get close to the 8 minute mark. Remember that the Saw Tooth landing system awards higher points for landing on the even minutes. So most pilots elected to land on 8 minutes, rather than risk trying to extend to the 10 minute max.

The BERG team Peter, Evan, Derek & Piet (Almost all Red Hot)

Gert was on the ball all day and kept us informed all the time as to positions of the teams and pretty soon a nice rivalry had started between the teams. BERG was in 1st position after round one. ETB soon took up the challenge and after round 2 they had taken over the top spot. Berg had fallen to 4th at the end of round three. Then Berg started crawling it's way back up and ended the comp in 2nd spot, just 50 points behind, after round 5. There was no throwaway, so any mistake or mishaps cost a team plenty. Teams were made up of 4 pilots and the best three scores for the round were counted towards the teams total.

In light of that, ETB is to be commended for doing so well, because they lost one of their top pilots when Izak fell out with a broken model in round 3.

The BERG team camp

Martie was there with her travelling diner of course and it wasn't long before she had breakfast on the go, ably assisted by Shirley. AAMOF (As a matter of Fact) my tummy started rumbling the minute I went down wind and got a whiff of bacon frying. Hot coffee and bacon and eggs for breakfast was just what the doctor ordered.
Che and her entourage had a constant shuttle service between the farm and the field bringing all the necessary stuff to keep us hungry soles satisfied.
Two big braai's were brought down to the field so we could all do our own braai pack.

The idea was to have lunch after the event, but when it was noticed that there was someone flying a power model on a adjacent field about 1km away we decided to halt proceeding for an early lunch and dispatch someone to go and investigate the rough pilot. Lionel drove around there and found someone flying a 60 size Stick off the public road. The incredible thing was that this guy (a SAMAA member BTW) had stopped at the filed earlier and watched us flying. Luckily he was on 2,4 gig so we didn't have any interference problems.

Derek about to launch Piet's Makula, with Peter checking out the conditions.

By round 2 the conditions had changed a little and coupled with the fact that some had worked out where to get lift the flight times were being maxed. One could launch high in the strong wind and ride the wave for the first part of the flight and then thermal back downwind without getting too far back. This didn't always work and some slots were really short with absolutely no lift at all and 6 minutes was hard to achieve, but then other slots were an absolute doddle.

There were many factors that made this event special. Firstly a new and untried venue, secondly the Triathlon and Saw Tooth event. It is quite challenging and team work is essential if you want to do well. The emphasis is not on the individual at all. A very nice event and a fitting end to a very enjoyable HTL season. Results of the event below.

The eventual overall winners of the Highveld Thermal League are:

Derek in 2 meter

Alan Smith for RES

Paul for Open

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