Wednesday, August 27, 2008

They Also Serve...

Now that the competition is over I must say a word about those who didn't win medals. Chris & Claire I've already mentioned. Rees Keene did a great job in his first international; I am sure we'll be hearing more from him. Simon Baker & Anita Holmes had their soaring task blown out by an electrical failure but remain very competitive and key members of the team. Finally, Neil King & Alan Weatherall, with a combined age of 128 years, flew a great comp in their first season together. The fact is that the whole team did really well.

Of course, I must now mention the non-flyers. Len Tanner & Malcom Finch did the catering during practice and breakfast throughout. They were cheerful and selfless and great company. Sue Keene once again took on the burden of cooking the meals during competition week. Somehow she smiled happily throughout and as usual everyone agreed they were excellent; I guess that comes from being a farmer's wife with a big family. Nigel Beale brought the spares and Rob Robinson, both invaluable. Nigel kept his monkey bike on the road for me and also found time to fly his sub-115 Chaser and top up his sun tan. Matt drove the van and was only arrested once. Our thanks go to all these terrific team supporters, together with the Eileens, Dawn, Jeanette, Claire and the kids, Tom, Jessica and Holly. Finally, of course, I must thank my Shirley for braving yet another comp, for putting up with me and giving me her support from start to finish.

So ends EMC2008. For me, the enduring memory of the European Microlight Championships at Leszno will be the British Team standing alone on the airfield in the twilight cheering ourselves hoarse as 'Foggy' Dewhurst and 'Hadders' Hadley taxied slowly back in from the deck after their amazing win in the soaring task.

Next year in Czech?

The Medal Tally

The results came out just before the closing ceremony which ended at 4.00 pm on Sunday and since then we've been on the road home with no decent wi-fi. I'm now back at Lilac Cottage and here at last is the tally.

I'm delighted to report that we won a record of 3 gold medals, one in each of the qualifying classes. As expected, Paul Dewhurst & David Hadley took the dual 3-axis gold by a comfortable margin. Rob Grimwood & Chris Saysell won the gold in the biggest class, dual flexwing, and were also the highest scoring crew of the competition. The nail-biter was the solo flexwing task, won by Richard Rawes. At one time he was only 2 points ahead, although the eventual margin was a little higher. And as a bonus, Robbie & Timmy Keene won the dual flexwing bronze. Chris & Claire Wills came a very creditable 4th in the dual 3-axis class. Finally I had my moment of glory when we took the team bronze.

The competition ended as it started, with rain, so the closing ceremony was inside. As is often the case in Eastern Europe, many dignitaries including a junior minister, were there. They had the pleasure of hearing the British national anthem three times and were proud to join in lustily. It brought a real lump to the throat.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sunday - the morning after

After the party we went to the disco back at the airfield then went to bed at a variety of times in the late night or early morning. Sunday morning promised rain and I was up early to start packing. Then Robbie, with the benefit of a little sleep, looked at the scores and twigged that others had claimed a turnpoint he knew to have been off track - and that this could put him in the running for a bronze. At 6:30 pm I filed a complaint which resulted in all the scores, including the official scores, being changed. Sadly, our gain was the Hungarians' loss, but when the scores became official Robbie had his bronze.

Saturday Night in Leszno

Having given himself a full day to deal with protests the competition director found he had to use it dealing, I'm afraid, with his own cock-ups. As the day wore on complaint after complaint caused the scores to be adjusted, with new provisionsal scores issued. By the end of the day everything seemed firm but the dual weightshift class. We couldn't wait but instead went down to have our own party in Leszno. We had found a place in the square a week earlier so we went back. The photos were all a bit dark but we had good time. However, twice duing the dinner I had to go back to the airfield with Rob and Tricky to look at breaking news from the scorers. By the time we returned we thought the whole thing had been put to bed. But....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Now the Waiting

It would be fair to say that this has not been one of the better competitions as far as task scoring is concerned. One by one the results come out for each task. The first provisional scores are riddled with errors which are teased out. With each new issue the provisional score sheets become nearer and nearer their final shape, as competitors move up and down in position following each adjustment. Finally, the official scores are released, task by task, It's like drawing teeth. Medals come within view and then disappear again.

Right now we are sure of one gold medal for Paul and David, who have a clear lead. But there may be more. I don't want to tempt fate by giving anything away, but I'm off to see if there are more scores in our pigeon-hole.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Last Task

The penultimate task flown on Friday was a race involving spotting photos and markers and passing through hidden gates. The out-leg was straight and the return a wide sweeping curver giving a total run of about 70 km. The final task, tacked on the end, was a touch & go in 6 metre box, 10 metres wide. That final touch & go was worth 250 points and Rob Grimwood & Chris Saysel were initially judged to have missed it. However, a video taken by one of the stewards, Vladimir Silhan, showed that they were in.

Spot Anything Different About This Trike?

Patricia Roumier is flying for the first time in the French team and seems to be enjoying herself. Her trike, a two seater flown solo and manfactured by DTA of Montélimar, France is powered by a Rotax 582 so power is not a problem, although fuel consuption will be. However, the interesting thing about this trike, which is not a new design, is that it has a fabricated pylon, no front strut and no drag links. Patricia says it gives better visibility, which is true, and it is certainly easier to get into and out of.