JR Challenge 2004
The weather here in Wellington, and infact most of New Zealand, has been absolutely
tragic over the past few months. Rain, flooding, landslides, and now they say
summer is over, well if that's it, I want my money back!
The JR Challenge was started last year as a way to encourage people to have a go at new maneuvers and push themselves. It's aimed more at the beginner and intermediate guys rather than the top dogs.
HOW IT WORKS
I was quite strict in who could enter each class. Those who were at hovering and early forward flight stage entered Clubman, basic aerobatics pilots were in Sportsman and those into advanced aerobatics and 3D entered the 'Advanced' class. This was to ensure that a class wasn't going to be dominated by people who should have been in the next class up.
Guys started turning up from Rotorua, Hamilton, Tauranga, Whakatane as well as Auckland and even Christchurch for the welcoming BBQ and a bit of practice flying as the tents and fences were erected ready for Saturday morning start.
People began turning up and establishing themselves in the pit areas and the first registrations and scrutineering took place. Because the event had been publicly advertised, we had to be sure that we covered our bases with safety.
With most people now present we held the pilots briefing where we explained
the field rules, the time table for the weekend and the process for the competition.
With everyone happy, it was time to draw up the pilot order whilst people had
their warm-up flights.
Most of the guys in this competition had never before entered in any other competitions and so many did not know what the compulsory maneuvers were supposed to look like. In hindsight, I should have arranged demonstrations of the compulsory maneuvers so that the competitors knew how the maneuvers were supposed to be executed. You live and learn.
I had suggested that the guys start out comfortably, picking K-Factors that they knew they could pull off safely so they could get warmed up and used to how the competition runs and most heeded this advice. A few however had a crack at maneuvers they hadn't done before, for example, both Dean and Martyn found out that doing a Cuban 8 correctly isn't as easy as some might think J.
The only issue in the first round was a bit of a botched auto from Neil Parkinson, however Neil was so rapt with the progress he'd made in his flying already that he wasn't that worried about it.
A few guys came a bit too close to the pits/spectator area and had to be waved off, but there were no other incidents.
The judges, Mike McCormick and Lew Woods, along with record keeper Neil Harker did a great job of evaluating people's flights by keeping in the spirit of the event, giving pilots two attempts at the K-Factor maneuvers.
At lunchtime in between rounds it became obvious that everyone was really getting into it as pilots discussed their next maneuvers and asked others for advise on how to execute particular maneuvers, then going out and practicing before the second round began.
While this was going on, the scores from round one were calculated and posted
on the scoreboard, but it immediately became clear we had a problem. The first
three pilots in the leaderboard were in the advanced class which is not what
I had wanted. It was clear that the reason for this is because the three pilots
in the advanced class regularly competed in F3C and so their score in the compulsory
section (F3C style maneuvers) were a lot higher than the competitors in the
clubman and sportsman classes. Infact the difference between the third placed
pilot and the fourth was so great it wasn't funny.