The weather ordered in by CD Rich Kiburis for the final round of the 2M shootout was just spectacular. Temps of low to mid 80′s with a wind of just 5 mph gusting to 11mph. Perfect soaring conditions and comfortable for humans too.
The turn-out was rather disappointing (considering we have had as many as 15 entered in this event earlier in the year,) but everybody is busy around this time so only 9 gallant pilots signed up for the day.
The points standings after 3 rounds were posted on the scorers table so all could see where they were at in the standings prior to this final shootout. The trophies were also put on display by Rich and what beautiful trophies they were. Nice Perspex trophies in different colors engraved with the buzzards logo and all. Very impressive indeed and well worth shooting for.
The points standings going into todays contest were as follows:
Name ………………Rd1…. Rd2…. Rd3…. Ttl
Gordon Buckland 2403.. 2855.. 2683.. 7941
Rich Kiburis……. 2323.. 2932.. 2552.. 7807
Rusty Carver…… 2682.. 2923.. 1782.. 7387
Raed Elazzawi…. 1322.. 2778.. 2131.. 6231
Tom Galloway…. 1858.. 2052.. 2071.. 5981
Kris Van Nostran 1303.. 1482.. 2332.. 5117
Jody Miller………. 2502………… 2423.. 4925
John Kennedy………….. 2673.. 2066.. 4739
Rick Eckel………. 1991……….. 2511.. 4502
Jim MacLean…… 1956……….. 2301.. 4257
Costa Francisco……….. 2175.. 1395.. 3570
Don Grisham…… 1182.. 2196……….. 3378
Leife Francisco… 1421……….. 1791.. 3212
Chris Manley…………… 1969……….. 1969
Ray Alonzo………. 2032……………….. 2032
Enrico Parades…………. 1966……….. 1966
Vic Manget……… 1644……………….. 1644
Steve Formanek……….. 1482……….. 1482
Hank McDaniel …………..710…………. 710
First round was flown as a 5 minute max with the remainder of todays 7 rounds to be 7 minutes maxes. The landing zone was the best we have had all year with the graduated tape with 100 points at the center and 1 point less for every 3 inches away from the center. This I believe is the absolute fairest landing zone method for an accurate measure of skill and is the same zone chosen by the LSF committee for the majority of Nats events each year.
Rich asked me to draw 2 pilots randomly for the 1st round “honors callup” to get things rolling along. As luck would have it I drew myself along with Kris Van Nostran to show the way. the 1st round was pretty uneventful as sufficient bouyant air was to be found for most of us to find 5 minutes.
The 1st round winners were Rich Kiburis and John Kennedy both flying Sprites so they led off in the second round. They launched toward what appeared to be great air with a bunch of Buzzards upwind to the north and I decided to follow them straight up as well. As can happen the Buzzards scarpered and by the time we got there the lift was soft to say the least. Rich salvaged a 5:49 and a great 94 landing while John and I got spanked – coming last and second last in the round with barely 3 mins each. This was not a great start for my quest to win the series as suddenly my 140 point lead had become a 141 point deficit to Rich.
The 3rd round saw Jim MacLean (flying his V tail Image beautifully) lead off with Ed White and a museum quality Banshee following. The air was getting better with regular lift cycles and just the gentlest of breezes in our face from the North east. I knuckled down to get a decent score and managed to sky the Duck out very deep downwind for a 7:00 – 91 to win the round with Ed and his Banshee making 6:56 – 53 to be second honors for the 4th round.
As can often happen with the honors callup format we both launched into the worst of the cycle and while Ed made it to the field to score with a 2:28 – 93, I took a big zero with an off-field landing after chasing to the south to find all sink and not making it home. Jimmy Mac was the only pilot to make a max this round, as the air played it’s tricks and the feathered buzzards didn’t co-operate. Rusty cooked us a great lunch while I entered the scores and lamented my poor flying that led to the zero. Knowing it was not over yet I added up the scores to see what the damage was. I was 373 points behind Rich and 304 ahead of Rusty with just 3 rounds in to go. Hmmm …. it was going to be a tough afternoon. All I could do was get 7:00 mins and hit the landings and then it would be up to Rich and Rusty.
Lunch was great as always with Rusty’s burgers and dogs being enjoyed by all while we nattered in the shade on what was really the most glorious day you could imagine.
The 5th round began non too soon for me as I was itching to make amends and Jimmy Mac led us off with Rich the 2nd honors man. As I discovered in the previous round the honors callup system can really rattle you if the air isn’t sweet and both Jimmy and Rich were home to land early while the rest of us had a choice at what air to launch into. It was tough air though and I was at tree top height over the pond with only 3 mins in when I finally found my ride downwind. Others in this round used the markers to find great air and get maxes too. I shot the best score of the day with a 7:01 – 97 and Rusty followed me in with a 7:00 – 83.
As Rusty and I were called up to launch in round 6 I made a committment to take the advice Jody Miller gave me during the week. He said – These are small planes -Use the ground signals to go where the lift should be. Go with your DLG skills and the lift will be there. I decided to turn overhead right off the launch as the ground signs were telling me that lift should be there. And the lift was there – with a cranked neck looking pretty well straight up for much of the flight I completed a consecutive 7:01 -97 to give myself a real shot at the title with just one round to go. (I silently said a thankyou to Jody as my enthusiasm got a real boost.) Rich was not to be denied though and he made a great 7:07 – 91 to make my good score mean a lot less.
I was extremely lucky to have Ed White beside me calling most of the day because he is a calming infuence and I need that as I get quite excitable and nervous when I fly. He also can read air in a way that few pilots can and he gave me some great tips in the latter stages of this contest.
It seemed fitting that the two pilots leading the series would launch together for the final round of 28 total flown and Rich said “Come on mate – Lets go show them how it’s done.” That we did.
I launched first and flew back downwind to where once again the ground signs were indicating the lift while Rich ventured upwind out of my sight. I found a good bump and worked it away downwind and 4 minutes in I asked Ed where Rich was. He said he is on his landing run and sure enough he flew into my vision below treetop height and I could not believe that he had dipped out with the lift and was going to be home early. I completed my max but messed up the landing a tad for a final round 7:03 – 73 and now it was simply up to the computer to spit out a winner. I knew it was going to be real close.
In the end the final tally had Rich down to me by just 19 points after 28 gruelling rounds of contesting all year. That represented just 19 seconds of air time between us or just one landing 57 inches closer to the tape today.
I must admit I thought it was lost once I scored the zero in round 4, but you never know till it’s all over.
Our winner for the day was the unstoppable Ed White and his Banshee with Rusty Carver and the Orion in second. Great flying by Jim MacLean to finish 3rd.
A big thanks to Rich for putting the series on and Cding.
Thanks also to Raed Elazzawi for the fabulous equipment preparation.
Thanks also to Rusty for the bloody good grub.
And thanks to all the pilots who came out and participated during what was a fun series.
A great series and thanks Rich for letting me in at the end.
1st Ed White- Banshee – 2869
2nd Rusty Carver – Orion – 2817
3rd Jim MacLean – Image – 2706
4 round Series decided today:
1st Gordon Buckland – Duck – 10529
2nd Rich Kiburis – Sprite – 10510
3rd Rusty Carver – Orion – 10204
4th Raed Elazzawi – Susa Ruby – 8309
5th Tom Galloway – Banshee/Sky – 7506