After several weeks of careful planning and negotiations with Richard Thomas, owner of Hamilton Farm Airstrip, caterers, food vendor, sponsors and the printing of stickers, registration packs and score cards, BARCS Interglide 2018 was finally upon us and the weather looked set fair for a long hot weekend. The event forms the British leg of the Eurotour series and so entry had proved very popular with the sixty places taken up within days of registration opening. The French contingent were also to use the event as part of their national team selection process.
Driving on to the site early Thursday afternoon, we were surprised to be met by two Dutch pilots waiting to get their caravan onto the field and within minutes they were out testing the air with DLG’s. The need to get the early preparation work installing signage, decking out the marquee and other facilities would clearly need to be undertaken with the utmost haste. The farmer was instructed to cut the long grass and the huge one hundred and sixty metre, fourteen spot flight corridor planned to best suit what was expected to be the variable wind directions of the weekend. The landowner had agreed to remove a section of fencing used to keep the sheep off his long West-East runway. We had one other small request of him, being as there were a couple of interesting football matches to be played, a television was duly hung in the marquee.
From 6.30am on the Friday morning we were greeted by a rapidly filling camp site and the first electric soarers being launched into the cool still early morning air. Indeed this scene was repeated every morning with models being tested at times when most British pilots were still dreaming of their Full English. It was a busy day, not only for the organisers laying out the field but also competitors as a huge tented village started to appear along the edge of the flying area with ‘Coleman’s’ were erected to form a ‘pits’ area. The campsite itself was much improved on last year with a small toilet block and wash-up area, electric hook-ups and sectioned off pitches which lent themselves to forming the small national enclaves of British, German, French and Dutch. Practice continued all day apart from a couple of short delays as full size aircraft took off from the runway.
Saturday morning dawned with a slightly sharp breeze and most competitors rigged more than one model to cover the conditions. Briefing started at 9am with CD Peter Allen welcoming our friends from across the channel and the further reaches of the UK. Nine rounds were to be flown, in three sessions of three, with a lunch break both days and a three round fly-off on the Sunday. With up to twelve pilots per slot, each round would take something around an hour and a quarter and at 9.30am, the first round was underway.
Model wise, there was plenty of variety on show. From Optimus and Infinity through Xplorer and Explorer (see Acemodel.co.uk to note the difference), Shadows, Storks, Pike Perfections and Dynamics, plus one or two rarer planes El Nino, Nova and Satori. Very few v-tail these days, as lighter construction allows the use of the more stable cross-tail, although Julien Benz flew an Xplorer 3 v-tail to great effect. Good also to see one or two Claymore and Colin Paddon and Kevin Beale successfully campaigning the Proglide.
At this level, it is small differences that make for a winning flight. In good conditions, all F5J gliders are capable of a ten minute flight and landings are on the nail within seconds of the slot ending. The key is the launch height and good thermal detection. To aid this, many now carry poles with mylar strips to the flight line as wind drift indicators. Fred Simiand of France flying an Infinity, threw down the gauntlet early with a 66 metre launch for his first 1000pts. The rounds carried on in the improving conditions until 1pm, when as scheduled three had been completed. Dutch pilot Frank van Melick led the way with 2976pts, Simon Thornton UK flying Optimus placed second and Fred Simiand in third on 2944 pts. For those who didn’t want to cater for themselves, there was a cold buffet available in the marquee. The French contingent lived up to their deserved culinary reputation and dined in style on the campsite.
Flying recommenced at 2pm and it seemed some may have left their ‘gliding heads’ back on the lunch table. Others however were newly refreshed and Simon Thornton took over top spot, with Steve Haley’s slot win taking him into second. Frank van Melick had a poor round and dropped back to eighth. But these were fine margins and with the fifth round flown and a drop score now applying, Frank soon found himself restored to top place. Given the style of flying, it seemed everyone had one poor flight, misjudging the lift and landing early, or outside the circle when trying to return from long downwind searches. The wind was constantly swinging throughout the afternoon resulting in the landing spots being moved from one side of the flight line to the other. Flying stopped at 6pm as scheduled with the completion of round six with Frank van Melick confirmed in top spot, Simon Thornton in second and Julian Benz from Germany in third.
Saturday night is BBQ night on the camp with the grill and beers supplied by BARCS. There was football on the television in the marquee, the Brits laid on some music and there was a party atmosphere around the site as the warm evening closed in.
Sunday saw lighter winds but with very strong lift and three rounds went ahead as scheduled. Everyone was now launching to around the sixty to eighty metre mark and mostly getting away, though one or two did choose the wrong part of the sky and would have to return to the spot and sit it out whilst others flew out the slot. Nine rounds completed, time for lunch (which conveniently coincided with England first half thrashing of Panama in the World Cup) whilst CD Peter Allen slaved over a hot computer to determine the fly off of twelve pilots. Interestingly there were several father/son teams with Frank and Geert van Melick of Holland, Steve and Simon Haley from UK and Bertrand and Tierry Wilmot from France in the fly off. Sadly neither Guillaume and Adrian Gallet, France, or Nils and Wilhelm Winkler, Germany, made it through. Julian Benz, Germany and Simon Thornton, UK were joined by other Brits Kevin Beale and Colin Paddon (Team Proglide), along with Fred Simiand, France and Pascal van Ool, Holland.
The wind, what little there was, was now blowing along the flightline, so the CD asked the pilots to decide which side to put the spots and they were moved as requested and so the three fifteen minute round fly off was underway. Slot one and everyone got away and flew the slot out with Julian taking the 1000pts closely followed by Steve and Simon Haley. Simon decided to go for it in slot two and was unlucky not to contact but Steve did and took the slot with Julian very close behind. In slot three, everybody decided it was go low or go home. Steve and Julian immediately headed in the direction that the lift indicators suggested but failed to hook up and indeed Julian recorded a zero, landing out, with Steve just managing to make it back to the circle. Many others also landed early, leaving Bertrand Wilmot to take the slot and the fly off win to be closely followed by Frank van Melick and fellow Dutchman Patrick van Ool.
Back to the marquee for the prize giving. We were very fortunate in receiving support with prizes this year, led by Flightech, who provided a HET/Reisenauer motor set as first prize, Samba Models supplied servos, West London Models batteries and glues and eSoaring gadgets a height limiter and other goodies. This generosity, along with items bought by BARCS built a prize haul of over £700. And there were the Eurotour and Micro-Mold Trophies too and cups down to twelfth place and the best placed junior, Adrian Gallet from France.
BARCS would like to thank all who attended and particularly those who helped with timing duties, flight line relocation and of course, Brian Austin and Syndey Lenssen who shared the duty of Jury Chair, which as it happens, proved to be fairly easy task as there were no protests. They did however have to award the ‘Unlucky B’ Spade, presented to the pilot who runs out of luck over the weekend. The recipient this year was Phil Brandreth, who having practiced on Friday only to have his transmitter fail before flying a slot in the actual competition. Despite this, Phil assisted the rest of his team with great humour and heart throughout the weekend.
Indeed, that summed up the tone of the weekend, competitive but friendly, superb flying, great weather and all went very smoothly.
A full breakdown of scores, further pictures and videos (thanks to Eamon Keating) can be found here. There is also a gallery of additional shots
Link to forum topic below