Sunday, 10 October 2010

 As well as being the UK’s best established international F3F race, the Welsh Open can also claim to be the world’s fastest.  3 days in the conditions provided by the Welsh Hills in the company of a very merry band of F3F pilots is enough to make a great weekend.  Add in that this year the SWSA had agreed to let SlopeRacer raise funds for the Bristol Neo-Natal intensive care unit and there was no way I was going to miss the race.  So at 5am, thanks to the great support of our suppliers, my car was crammed full of prizes.
Day 1.
  The NW wind meant that I was grateful for the help in carrying the pilot bags to the Ice Cream slope.  This is a slope that always produces a fairly large amount of variation, due to thermal and other vagaries but F3F is about making the best out of the bad air as well as the good and the cream was rising to the top.
   The keeping cool under adverse circumstances award has to go to Pete Gunning, after radio failure cost him his brand new Freestyler before Round 1.  Some rapid programming and work with Joel West had him up and running for round 1.
  Never apparently cool but always quick, John Philips was doing the business with his Predator and led the way after day 1.  Rumours that he was gluing the tails of his competitors may be a little harsh.  Only a poor first round is thought to have saved Adam Richardson after he steered his Strega to a round 3 win.
Day 2
  The Westerly breeze picked up through the day but not before Cedric Grandseigne had chance to sport fly his new Vampire - very very impressive it looked too.  Conditions improved steadily all day and the reasons for the number of repairs on the Spanish models soon became clear - a hyper aggressive course and even more so when off the course.  Flying with these lads is not for the faint hearted!
  Conditions were still variable (getting my excuses in) and ballasting strategies varied from the Scott Ravenscroft ‘put it all in’ to some very cautious ‘in case the lift goes’.  What was clear was that if you got the lift or not- don’t cut!  One of the great sights of the Welsh Open is to see a pair of pilots happily beating their team mate after a cut, or passing on how they would have flown the last round - it’s so much easier from 10 m further back!
  As the breeze picked up the Extremes really came to the fore and as confidence and ballast was increased, their times came down and down.  Still, through the cuts, sink and periodic crossed wind John and his Predator were slugging it out with Simon "Golden Balls" Thornton and Joel West.  John finishing the day with a full on attempt to destroy the course in order to get day 3 cancelled by annihilating the weather station with his wingtip - these Predators are tough! 
  Day 2 finished with a fantastic night Banquet, organised by Vic and with the MD help of Knewt raising £1,300 to the Neo-Natal Care unit.  A stunning result and emotional night for myself - one that put my own racing very much into perspective.  It was great to see so many of the pilots supporting the Banquet and making the race even more of an event.
Day 3
  By midnight at the Banquet we still hadn’t worked out if day 3 would be stunningly quick or incredibly wet.  As we sat in our cars on the top of Mickies - it was going to be both!  With the wind at 40mph and the cloud low full ballast was the option and hope to cut through the rough air to the good stuff.

 Again John was delivering times at the top of the round - this time with his Air One.  A very quick and model that John was complaining about his lack of air time on - just before his 35!  Joel and Golden Balls, now also with his Extreme, were up there still.  It’s easy to miss some of the personal milestones in such a large entry.  Clayton Landells PB was well and truly dropped over the weekend and by Sunday his Acacia had delivered a sub 40, congratulations Clayts! - it’s an achievement not to be under estimated with probably the cheapest model in the field that can still take on the best!
  Mid way through the second round Iñaki Elizondo stepped up with his Freestyler and everything just came together, top model, great lift and stunningly aggressive flying - 29.37 - a new World record.
  With the clouds coming down and Adam’s tree top landing it was time to stop and add up the scores.  Congratulations had to go to John!

1 John Phillips 9095.36 
2 Simon Thornton 9047.92 
3 Joel West 8779.28 
4 Gerardo Plaza 8735.86 
5 Mark Redsell 8694.69 
6 Dag Skoglund 8626.71 
7 Peter Gunning 8616.64 
8 Kevin Newton 8585.47 
9 Keith Wood 8513.46 
10 Bjorn Tore Hagen 8485.42 

Once again, all F3Fers should give it up for the lads at the SWSA - particularly Kevin Newton and Andrzej Tabero - for putting on the frankly awesome, and frequently record-breaking Welsh Open! Thanks chaps!

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