Sunday, September 04, 2005

F3B World Championships, Finland 2005 -- Wolfgang Steffny

With Craig Goodrum's detailed Round by Round report already circulated, there is very little to add. All matters concerning the actual competition and some technical aspects have been addressed by Craig. As Team Manager elect, I have been with the team from the beginning in Feb 2005, in a mostly organizing and coordinating role and attempting to instill a cohesive team spirit and trying to keep negative influences away from pilots - allowing them to focus on their flying.

There are certain observations and thoughts I wish to share with anyone interested in this sport - particularly concerning competitiveness.

After many a talk with knowledgeable people, it became very clear that a good F3B campaign can only succeed, not only with good pilots (which we certainly have) and suitable helpers (which we selected) but most importantly with solid and timeous funding, which we were fortunate enough to also have had.

Good equipment (models, gadgets, electronics etc.) were acquired and practice commenced with great enthusiasm and evident commitment by everybody concerned. Performances steadily improved. After 6 month of dedicated training we reached a consistent level which we thought would qualify us to reach for the top.

Apart from some logistical problems with Air tickets, Visas and Aeroplane transport boxes, all preparations went smoothly and a well prepared Team left for Finland with great expectations and justified hopes.

So what went wrong?

* In my opinion, we certainly underestimated the extremely high level of performance of the better European Teams respectively the advances they made over the last few years. In this regard, one needs to recognize the fact that in Europe there are in excess of 25 top notch F3B contests, every year including the F3B Euro Contest Series covering several countries. In South Africa we have 4 events, by comparison, some of them of an inadequate standard.
The conclusion from this is obvious - we need to practice and practice and practice - in fact, we need to begin our next effort NOW.

More time and also money needs to be spent on dedicated F3B contests in SA. It is in competition where skills are honed and brought to peak level!

* Last minute changes of team members and their functions put extra stress on the minds of our pilots. Anton could not travel, young James Shaw was brought on board, and Anton's function was transferred to Craig Baker.

Derek Wiggill developed a serious thrombosis ( I told him he should reduce his Globetrotting!) and informed us on the day of departure that his doctor would not allow him to board yet another Airliner, at least until Sunday 31st July, the day before the contest started. On that very Sunday he informed us that on Monday he had to be in Hospital where 2 lumps would be surgically removed from his leg.

Consequently, the day before the start, more mental stress was put on our pilots who now had to split Derek's functions between themselves.

Our helpers Craig Baker, Ian Lessem and James Shaw did a superb job during the last 2 practice days, and had winches, lines, batteries, chargers etc. 100 % under control. We were ready to do battle.

Despite all the unexpected problems, the Championships started well for our team with Craig Goodrum having an excellent first round.

* During the morning of day 2, bad luck struck again, with Craig Baker falling ill-unable to carry out his assigned jobs. After a disastrous morning things were hastily rearranged. Craig Baker had to have medical attention and eventually, after day 3, had to be taken to hospital. All of us were of course very concerned and worried about Craig.

No doubt at all this rocked our ship considerably, putting more stress on Michelle, Craig G. and Dion. As a consequence, it appeared to me that focus and also momentum was lost for while. Only during day 4 did matters again begin to improve - alas, too late !

All in all, although we did not achieve what we set out to do, the team conducted themselves superbly under very often extremely trying circumstances. No flying tempers, no need for Fire Extinguishers - disciplined and determined - indeed commendable !

In conclusion, I wish to thank our Pilots and Helpers for their unwavering enthusiasm .Being with them made it, after all, worthwhile.

A special Thank You to Shirley Goodrum who looked after" Pea Nuts" so well and kept him in good shape throughout the time in Finland - a great help, really appreciated!

To Craig Baker all our best wishes for a speedy recovery and a chance to be there again in 2 years time.

Finally the South African TEAM wishes to thank all our sponsors form their valued support:

D. Wiggill / South Africa
Tu Jay Knitwear/South Africa
Pyramid Clothing / South Africa
Spectacle Warehouse / South Africa
Texglass /South Africa
Ice Cold Bodies /South Africa


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