A huge thanks to all the pilots for making it over to the event, and a huge thank you to crew and organizing team for getting the whole thing running. Without your support the event would not be successful! And especially, a huge thank you to Nick for stepping up to the role of Contest Director at the very last minute and helping me take care of a lot of the work load in the final weeks.
The sponsors have also made this an event to be remembered with all the prizes for so many contestants, with ArmSoar Composite Gliders (duh!!!), Fly-Dream, Graupner SJ, Vortex Team, JR Propo, KST Servos, and Smart Model.
Also, the great support from the three major F3K clubs in China: South China Soaring Association, Yang Cheng Hu F3K Group, and the Beijing Wind Wing Soaring Association.
Huge congratulations to all the pilots in the flyoffs, and especially to the top podium pilots.
1. Carl Strautins (Australia)
2. Jon Day (Australia)
3. Tang Zhigao (China)
My trip started by waking up at 5:30am and getting ready for Michael to come pick up Enya and I. We left my house at around 6:30am and went to the airport to pick-up Joe. Turns out Joe’s flight landed around an hour earlier than planned! After a luxurious McDonald’s breakfast we started our drive through Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Dongguan, and Guangzhou to get to Sanshui. Because the 1st is the National Day and all highways are toll-free during these holidays, the traffic was baddddddddd!!!! From Sha Tou Jiao port it usually takes 3.5 hours to drive to the field… and it turned into about 6 hours… phew!!! That’s a total of about 9 hours driving for Michael from 6am :DTook many detours into smaller roads in the city to try and get away from the traffic, I think Michael’s legs were already sore by the time we got to the field!
A bunch of the pilots have started to arrive on the 1st and we spent the day flying. Okay, I probably just spent most of the day BS’ing at the field and flew maybe half a dozen flights. No… Don’t think I’m very prepped!
That night we had dinner at the buffet at our hotel, and more and more guys joined during the course of the meal and even while we were enjoying beers after dinner at the bar.
The next day is also practice day at the field. There was some carnage, not spectacular enough unfortunately. After a long day of practice at the field in hot weather and stupid easy conditions we went to the seafood boat as per SCSA tradition. The food was very local and I think the guys really quite liked the atmosphere and food! The Shanghai crew tried to get me drunk as usual before Nick and I gave the pilots’ meeting… I don’t remember drinking anything at all.
I think the pilots’ meeting went super smooth with perfect professionalism……. NOT! I think this is the first time in F3K where the pilots’ meeting was given by a guy who couldn’t stand up from too much beer and red wine… hahaha!!! I don’t remember much of it but I hear it was pretty good
Woke up at 6:30am to make sure there is enough time to eat a nice breakfast before leaving with the bus at 8:00am. Got to the field and after a bit of test flying and prep work, the contest went underway. Conditions were quite nice but for some reason I just couldn’t really connect to it. First round I flew my usual style of reading something downwind and chasing after it…. Went out 3 times….. and the last time coming back with a broken model. 1 down… 1 to go. Not a good start to 3 days of tasks!!!
There was quite a bit of exceptional flying from all the guys, it seems that the level rose to the occasion. With only 1 plane left and no ballast provision (simply have not had time to really do any prep for my own flying and planes for the event), I had to fly conservatively and not able to really fly the way that I am used to. Ended up with eleventh in the warm up contest after the 6 rounds.
Lots of great flying by Joe with perfect grands during the whole day, and dropped his last round of 939. Tang Zhigao from China flew very consistently as usual and ended up in second, while Kazuo Kaneko from Japan came in third with over 98% even with a 0 round when he forgot he had to fly and went to be a timer!!!
Carl Strautins the international newbie did great and ended up in fifth even though he claims it’s his third or fourth time flying DLG in 3 years… yeah, having a 72m launch doesn’t hurt either! Maybe beginners luck ,hahahaha
Had dinner at the hotel buffet and drinks afterwards at the bar, time for bed.
We arrived at the field as usual after breakfast, and got the news that we may have difficulty using the main contest field. Not great news in the morning right before the APO! The field we have permission to fly on is part of the Beijiang dike system that protects Guangzhou from flooding. The official report was that during the National holidays, important infrastructures like this is set to higher security alert. Apparently there was a fire nearby during the warm up contest, and the office in charge of this section of the dike felt it was better to lock down the area and not allow anyone to use the fields. The decision was made quickly that we would switch to our backup field. We arrived at the field and started to setup at around 10:30am, and set the first round to start at noon so that everyone gets time to practice and get used to the location.
I think overall, the move to the backup location really made the competition much more interesting, as it is a very technical field to fly at with massive sink traps making for lots of score separation. The field is located on the tip of an island in the middle of a large river, and a couple meters above the water level. Upwind are some buildings on the other side of the river which is quite wide. Downwind of the field is the tents, flags, power lines, a cliff to the water, and then large boats. If you go downwind, the only way to succeed is if you are at or above launch height. Once you reach lower than maybe 45~50 meters, the air is choppy and the sink is incredible from the air rushing down the cliff to the water. There were so many land outs it was amazing to watch.
Joe’s first flight in the AULD was probably one of the most memorable flights of the whole event. He was probably 1:30 or so into his flight when he was maybe 200 meters or so out upwind and 10 meters above the ground. He walked over to the lip, and managed to fly and salvage the flight by doing a few passes on the small cliff, and still somehow managed to get both himself and the model back to the box. Honestly, I don’t think anyone else could have pulled that off with what seemed like 2 meters right off the cliff back through pretty choppy air through the field and get back into the box. At times we were quite worried the model was gone into the river… well, it’s Joe.
I flew well and continued to fly quite good for the day except a poor 555 round. Round 1 was Task C, most of us managed the 3 on the first and third flights, but while everyone came down around 1~2 minutes, I managed to get the full 3 minutes and immediately put the hurt on everyone.
In round 2 task G, first flight I must have lost my mind. Because with 20 seconds left in the first flight, I was at the correct distance. At 10 seconds, it felt I was too close already, and even with full breaks I was zooming past and had to run to grab it. Once I picked it up and re-launched, I realized I landed with the wind… WHAT? I can’t believe I made such a dumb mistake. Next flight I got a great turnaround and I was back on track, or so I thought. Next landing, I tried to do a good turnaround and as I was coming in, I grabbed the blade, readjusted, and ended up pushing my plane out of the box. After a relatively boring rest of the round I dropped 12, and luckily it was enough for another 1000.
I don’t remember much from round 3 task B, I managed 7:36 and it was enough to get a 1000. The spread wasn’t as great on this task as I hoped, but as long as I got the grand I was happy.
The first major mistake I made was in round 4 task F, with 4 pilots getting 3 maxes and the 1000’s, I managed to put myself into a corner and only fly 5 minutes, with a score of 555. Luckily there is a drop soon.
The air was getting lighter and lighter, while there were some soft air around it took quite a bit of patience and smooth flying to make use of it, but it seemed that the sink was still there in the field. Round 5 task I, I got a hunch that something might be brewing upwind to the left from the test flight and decided to give it a shot. Launched high, and went straight into air. As I moved forward the plane just kept rising and with 12mm of camber, the plane was doing really well. I think 3 other models were there with me but started slightly lower and behind me, and it was fun just watching them sink while I continued to go up. I felt I flew very well in the round, and with a 20s drop I managed to get the 1000 and pull the scores apart a bit.
After the 5 rounds of flying, we went back to the hotel for buffet again, and after dinner, Joe gave us a short 1 hour session on thermal basics, while I tried to translate it to my non-native Mandarin Chinese. The audience was quite interactive after the initial shyness and we all learned quite a bit.
Apparently I missed some colorful stuff that night because I went to bed early after the thermal section….
As we were loading onto the big bus to head to the field, these 2 girls suddenly entered our bus. Hmm…. All the guys in the back are looking at each other and wondering what the hell is going on, until I asked them where they were going. “Oh, we are going to watch the plane contest.” Okay then!!
As more rumors and stories filled the bus and airwaves about these two ladies, we uncovered that Slim Shady tried to pick them up at the bar after the thermal session, and got rejected. Then the pook gai hum ga chan hai lo Pimp with the accent asked them to come watch the comp, and they actually woke up early to come! I hope my story is accurate, maybe Slim Shady or the Pimp with an accent can clear it up and shed some light!
Round 6 task A, the beginning of my downfall. Everything I did from this point on was so wrong that we reckon if I did everything exactly opposite, I would have made some more grands. Thermal to the left? Let’s turn right. Straight launch into a read upwind? Nah, maybe it’s more fun to hook the launch and spend a lifetime in sink before trying to push back up. Sounds like a good plan. Everything just fell apart and each round I was getting more and more confused with my flying.
It was an extremely humbling experience, and now I know with definition that this is something I need to work on. The ability to focus and refocus after a bad round is absolutely fundamental in becoming a top pilot.
Well the contest was over for me, jumping off a cliff with a 100% score after the first day and ending up with 81% after half a day of flying on Sunday. But, it gave me a very educational perspective as a caller for Joe during the flyoffs.
I may have passed my bad streak to Joe, because after such a perfect prelim with perfect 9* 1000’s, he started to make some small mistakes. Recoverable, until the loop popped off the elevator in 5*2 after a hard landing, and the plane launched, arched down, and hit a caller in the leg directly. Quite a severe bruising to the timer which required medical attention after the round, and a damaged plane, we were not 100% sure of the rules regarding contact with a person on launch, so swapped planes and continued to fly. We lost 26 seconds during the whole ordeal, from the other side of the field, retrieval, powering up and checking new model, swapping, and having it back in the air. Unfortunately, upon checking the rulebook (supplied by the big Nerd Pimp), contact with a person at launch also results in a 0 for the round in addition to the 100 penalty from total score.
Carl, you are such a good pilot it’s incredible. Your 72m launches are pretty wimpy in comparison to my launches but they’re passable, but at least you can speak BS almost as well as me, that’s a start. I am really looking forward to flying with you again soon.
Jon, it’s great to see you again and darnit that’s a great score against a tough tough group of pilots in a very technical field, you rocked the flyoffs mate. I mean, some day you’re going to have to stop coming in second but for now that’s okay It was really nice to finally meet Shona, and I’m glad you got the chance to go around Guangzhou shopping and sightseeing, it is a wonderful city full of so much history and culture.
Joe, thank you so much for coming over and showing us how it’s done, everyone had their eyes on your plane for most of the comp and we all learned a lot from your flying and decisions. Please don’t make hitting people a habit on launch, planes have feelings too.
Kajiro-San, you are OK. I will tell everyone in China you are as good as me, hahaha J Please fly well so I can see you in Croatia next year!!
Iyobe-San, next time you beat Kajiro-San please remember to take a photo, otherwise he is too old to remember properly! Hahahaha
Tang Zhigao, you have been consistently at the top for the past year and it shows that all your hard work is paying off! I’m glad to be on your team, keep on going!
Li Han, since even the last time I’ve seen you, you have improved immensely. Your presence and positive energy is helping promote the sport of F3K and giving it a very positive image, good job and keep it up! You have a very good future in this discipline.
Nick, thank you so much for your hard work. I know it’s been super busy for you and to step up to the plate at a moment’s notice is incredible. You know what you have to improve on, go at it!!
Shady, you are the real Slim Shady, please stand up! I don’t know anyone else with 9.5 Snipes, better protect your last ‘mint’ condition one like a baby!!! You have a very good attitude and desire to learn, so start as a blank sheet and pick up as much good info as you can. Ask the guys for help, either in Beijing or online, and just keep going no matter what.
Pang, thanks for the shirt trade! Now I can be undercover when I come over to Singapore, not that we would need a warm shirt!! Great flying buddy, and good luck at the Typhoon race in Taiwan!
Sherwin, next time have both eyes open when you fly!! Great to fly with you man, see you next year.
Yizhi, dude I can’t thank you enough, that was so awesome of you! See you later this month…ahem
Chong, you are one lucky guy! It must be great to have your wife’s support at the field when you are flying! Great to meet you and hope to see you in Singapore next year!
Ronald, it’s been a few years since we’ve met, it’s so exciting to see the sport become so popular in Singapore now. Keep it up and you finally have a lot of guys to play with!
Richard, you need to have some fun and fly as well as TM next time! I bet you had the itch to do some flying at least part of your stay at the event, don’t lie!! Hahaha. Cheers and see you soon I hope.
Chotiwutti, you’ve improved a lot since last year, it’s great to see progress and congratulations on getting your son hooked as well!
Tanutch, good flying buddy! With only a few months of flying you were able to complete the APO, keep working hard and you will improve very fast. Your launches are nice and smooth and your flying is nice. Keep practicing and keep soaring!
Sam, good to see you again Sam, you have a lot of potential, keep at it and work on your launch and setup. School is important so obviously for the next few years that will keep you occupied, but don’t lose the passion for soaring! Looking forward to seeing you next month in Taiwan, yay!
Hsieh, I bet you are glad you listened and came fly at the APO! It’s such a great experience and you won so much in the raffle!!! See you soon and looking forward to flying with you in November in Taiwan.
Lin, I think you are the furthest pilot to ever come to fly DLG’s in China so far! All the way from Brazil, I hope you enjoyed the event and tell some stories to the guys back home! Hope to see you in Croatia next year
After the competition, a few of the top Chinese pilots got together and had a long discussion on our own reflections, thoughts after the competition, and critiques of each other’s flying until 3:30am. In addition, it was nice to be able to take the bus back to Hong Kong with Joe and get him all to myself (no sharing!) for a few hours and get comments and suggestions.
Out of all the things I need to work on, these are some of the most important things in no particular order:
1. Mental toughness and the ability to focus and refocus during a competition, and to reduce the effect of one or two bad rounds on the mental aspect of flying. This has been a reoccurring event this year where I fly great in the beginning and then end up choking after flying a bad round and can’t refocus back into the proper flying mindset.
2. Preparations for a competition, including making sure the models are ready (install ballast, plane trimming, and having enough planes), practice (3 or 4 times in 5 months is not enough), and the on-site setup of my tent and area.
3. Thermal reading skills, trying to improve the observation of the entire surroundings, and be more critical and confident in the reads.
4. Flying skills, especially in lift to try to increase the ability of turning both ways without bias, increase ability to find the best air inside a body of rising air, and general ability of making the best use of the thermal given.
Asia Pacific Open Future Development:
Being the first of its kind, I am super excited to see it take off and get the ball rolling in the Asia Pacific region. We are in a big need of a good competition system in the region and the APO will be a very important milestone. After some preliminary discussion with the other teams, it seems that the APO may go towards a FAI sanctioned format, and turned into the equivalent of the European Championships. The competition will likely be held every two years, spaced apart from the World Championships so that it will be able to attract the best pilots and teams from the region to compete.
At the moment, it seems that Australia is very interested in hosting the next event in 2016. Singapore may also be interested. China will not bid in 2016, since we have already hosted in 2014.
This is just the first step, and hopefully with the continual support from the pilots in the region, and organizers from different countries, the APO will flourish and become even more.
This first Asia Pacific Open has finally drawn to a close. It was amazing to be amongst so many like-minded people who just enjoy doing the same thing, from all different parts of the Asia Pacific region and all walks of life. The new experiences and knowledge gained, new friends acquired, and laughter shared, really makes this such a memorable event. As the first step in pursuing high level competition, I wish all pilots happy thermals and F3K excellence.