I drove down on the Thursday morning (big mistake) when all the Gauteng long weekend holiday makers were on the N3. The day before the event a few of us enjoyed the beautiful flying weather at the Noodsberg club. I stayed over with Johan, Rudi, Chris, Conrad, Evan, Christo, Tia and Victoria at the Castaway guest farm house. Nice dinner made by the Tia and Vici and long stories around a few cold beers made us ready for the next day.
Friday morning started off with winds gusting up to 30km/h. It got a while to get organized at the field but no one was complaining. Most of the time was used to check out the competition and determine whose was the largest. (Dion's prop won this round) The event got off with F5J, RES and 2m rounds with F3K following. By this time we had to change the winch direction already from first setup and clouds moved in followed by mist clouds. A few more slots of F3K was done but F3J launching could not be done safe and flying was cancelled. The AGM was held in good spirit at the country club before we moved off to Wartburg Hoff (What a letdown) for some eisbein. Zimmy was to happy to have us all there as the place was like a spookhuis. We were entertained till late by the Italian and had a lot of good laughs.
Saturday morning promised good weather and we had a great day of flying. There was a few spectacular and painful mishaps. Johan lost his Pike in the sun on a launch and it went in full speed. Allen lost his Supra due to a line tangle. Conrad damaged his model when he tried to land on the other side of the sewerage farm. A tree jumped in front of Little Ryan's model on the way back to the field. I must say the juniors show BIG character flying at this level and performing this well. Lionel tried to destroy his F3K model all weekend but it was repairable every time. All in all the conditions was very challenging and very difficult to read. Most of the day was crosswind launches. We flew the last round of F3K just before sunset. The day was ended by all the tired pilots having a super dinner at the country club.
Sunday morning we were out again early. For the record, myself and Evan was first at the field every morning. Man it is a beautiful venue for gliding. Sunday was probably the best thermal weather of all the days. We had to do cross wind launches but could find lift easily during the morning. The wind picked up later and I think we ended just in time before it became un-flyable again (Evan will disagree).
Lionel. Well maybe I can write a separate chapter about this man. When a model is 5m up in the tree then Lionel will fetch it. When the scores have to be done, then Lionel will calculate. Who is collecting the spots after all has left? Lionel. If there is a major protest, Lionel is in the middle. If you need a 2 man tow, then Lionel will give you that tow all by himself. Who can compete in at least 5 classes (2m, RES, F3J, F5J, F3K and towman) and do a lot of the side organizing and scoring? Lionel! Gee wiz guys have we become so competitive that we only think of ourselves and can't help this man.
A note to Wolfie who is organizing 2010: It is not necessary to plan 8 rounds for 2m, RES, F5J, F3K. Only 6 rounds I think is sufficient. Some pressure to start earlier will also help. Best time of year is a gamble but maybe June the risk is lower for rain. The idea of a class per day also surfaced again with a lot of pros and cons.
I would like to report on the F5J comp in a separate mail when I have more details as the evolution of this class the past 4 years was amazing.
Now why do we do this every year?
Up to this year I was lucky to be able to take home a memento of the Nats for the past 4 years and it makes it real special. Thanks to everyone who made it possible this year and congrats to all the winners.