We went to Turkey, na, na, na, na, na.
About a month ago Michelle called me and said "guess what?"
"Don't be silly, Michelle! I'm busy." I replied. You have to understand that things were really busy at work and chat time was limited. The excitement in her voice was quite obvious however so I was curious now and wanted to know what I must guess. F3J team trials were around the corner and we were struggling to find helpers so it must be something to do with that.
"I've been invited to the Soarist competition in Turkey by Mustafa."
"Really, you're not serious?"
And so the story began. Sorry for the childish intro but it really is an honor to be invited to this competition. The Soarist competition is an F3J invitational in Turkey where people from around the world are invited to fly, all expenses paid, in near to Istanbul. Mustafa Kok is one of the leading businessmen in Turkey and he and the Istanbul Soaring Club arrange this competition. This was the 4th time the competition was being held and we had therefore heard about it before. Unfortunately we had never cracked a nod until now. Well to tell the truth I still had not cracked a nod to get one of the starting places, Michelle had. It was NOT the kind of invitation you wanted to turn down but Mich didn't want to travel alone so she replied asking if it was possible for me to join her. The reply came back positive.
I was in Paris on business so Michelle arranged to fly to Frankfurt and meet with me there. She didn't realize that this meant a 12 hour wait. At 2:30 am we landed in Istanbul and were greeted by one of the organizers, put on a bus and driven to our hotel, arriving there at 5:30am, by then we were really tired so we set the alarm for 4 hours and went to bed. At 11:00 we had breakfast and then asked reception how we could get to the field, he asked us to relax (not easy for me when I want to go flying) and we would get a bus in about 30 minutes to 1 hour. An hour later there was the bus and off to the field we went. We just had enough time to assemble models before a round zero which meant no time to check models and get a feel for the air, but I guess that's what round zero is for.
Figure 1 The first view of the field
The main themes:
-Most of the models being used were Pike Perfects, Shadows and Experience Pros (pretty much in that order).
-It is obvious that one of the trends is to take a higher risk in launch by opting for a lower, faster launch with less time on the line but the conditions on the first day did not allow for this with the first prep time starting around 8:30 after rain the previous night and a late sunrise. There was pretty much no activity and the group spreads were high. The second round had thermals and the top pilots started to push the limits. This is what makes F3J interesting. In order to get into a fly-off you now have to differentiate yourself but it is no easy to be the first to do it and the conditions were not booming thermals. A good launch time is 3 or 4 seconds with 6 seconds being OK but not great.
- Landings must be 100 points within the last second! (unless you are lucky)
Figure 2 Stefan Eder's model (what's it called?)
Figure 3 Is there any space left for us to stick our models?
Figure 4 Mustafa doing karoke
Figure 5 Jojo trying to get into Michelle's pants
I didn't make the time and Michelle could have pushed the time more (she could also improve a little on the landings.
Ok but landing timing could be better
Timing difficult due to down wind-ish on landing
Figure 6 Isn't child labour illegal in Europe?
At the end of day 1 we had completed 3.5 rounds with Michelle in 29th after 3 rounds and me in 32nd.
Day 2 was unfortunately rained out, much to most of the competitors' disappointment.
Figure 7 What F3J pilot's look like when it rains.
Many thanks to the Soarist Competition organizers for their hospitality, it is an event Michelle and I will never forget.