So with a virtually full house in the initial briefing on Thursday we quickly despatched a strong judging team into the field and started launching Q programmes as fast as the 10 minute slots would allow. Despite a few scenic tours of Northamptonshire we still managed to squeak in ahead of the curfew and raise the expectation of the odd cool one to take the judges’ minds off their scorched flesh. Unfortunately, and I blame no-one in specific for this (HCO, CIVA, Chairman, CJ - you can all rest easy), we have to spend most of the first evening picking figures for the Free Unknowns. Quel domage !
|Unlimited and Advanced pilots|
If you haven’t played this game before, you really are missing out. The rules are quitestraightforward. Each pilot picks up one of the special BAeA numbered brass discs. They then have two options. Walk off with the disc carefully protected, so no-one knows what number they have drawn or toss the disc back onto the table muttering under their breath. On no account must they let the CD/CJ know which number they have drawn. That would be bad form and would make the process far too easy.
In the event that any official actually establishes which pilot has which number and retrieves the discs for future use, we are permitted to move to stage two. This involves the pilots trying to remember the number they just selected and coming to the stage in numerical order (a challenge in its own right). Once in the spotlight, it is customary to either a) mumble incoherently about some figure you once flew in the Latvian Nationals in the 1980’s or b) draw something which resembles your award winning Vision On submission when you were age six and ask no-one in particular whether you will be heading upwind, downwind or back to the dressing room on completion of the figure.
Enter the referee and his assistants. Main man is the CJ using goal line technology in the form of OpenAero to assert that the computer either says no, or gola, gola, gola! If the latter, you can sit down justifiably pleased that you appear to have known exactly what this was all about and were properly prepared. If the yellow card is shown however, you are in trouble. Then you have to desperately try and modify your proposed figure to include more/less flicks, rolls, spins, k or inspiration. By the fifth iteration you will be so embarrassed that you will submit a plain line with any combination of autorotation and roll you can get away with and still achieve the minimum k. On no account should anyone in the room understand or indeed have read the CIVA Rules, with the exception of the Chairman, who is not allowed to show his frustration at any point.
Once beer and sleep have consorted to erase any painful memories of the figure selection evening we can then get on with flying the pilots’ own Free Programmes. Usually this involves sequences which are well practised and should be near perfect, but occasionally new rules are applied. In 2014 the Unlimited rule book states that you can fly a stall turn as an alternate to a tail slide and the Advanced rules now allow flight behind the judges presumably so you can keep them in sight at all times. You need to have read the section in the manual about HZ before you apply these rules. Just saying.
As if having pilots selecting the figures wasn’t sufficient, CIVA in their wisdom suggest that Tom, Dick and Harriet should have the constitutional right to submit their misguided ideas as to how to put all the figures together into a sequence that will show off their prowess to its maximum. Realising that what was world beating last night is just self abuse in the cold light of day, most pilots then select the Chairman’s proposal instead and a few even manage to do this before the deadline. The Advanced pilots actually flew theirs really quite nicely this year, allowing our eventual champion, Michael Pickin, to establish a solid lead. In between Unlimited leader, Gerald Cooper, won my golden boot award for his sublime early morning Free programme. A master class in precision and energy management with near perfect placement. In the second half the cloud came down, it rained a little, The Aviator hotel nearly ran out of tea and the score was a very boring 0-0 draw.
Many thanks to all who helped, Guy Auger for bringing some continental flair to the judging line and our Polski/Irish competitors for introducing some fun into the post flight debrief on the lawn on Saturday. At least it numbed the senses for the long wait to the inevitable declaration on the final day. And if you want to win either the David Perrin Trophy or the Golden Snitch for the Masters you will probably get another chance at Elvington in September.
|Contest Results: Neil Williams Trophy 2014|
|Senior Nationals 2014, Sywell, 12th -15th June|
Ranked by scores
|Rank||M/F||Pilot||Aeroplane||Registration||Known P1||Free||Totals||O/all %|
|4||M||Simon Johnson||Extra 330SC||G-IIIK||2587.80||3249.64||5837.45||64.289|
|5||M||Rob Howarth||CAP 231||G-IIHZ||2408.89||2829.26||5238.15||57.689|