The very first time I met him was just over a year ago, in November 2013, during my trip to Taiwan for a contest in Lungtan up north, near Taipei. He had hitched a ride from a mutual friend from down south for the contest. Heck, he didn't even have a DLG to compete with, he came with an electric Topsky 1, and spent the whole day helping run the contest as a helper. He had just turned 17 and started flying DLG's.
He had so many questions and so many different thoughts, it was like a non-stop train! And over the course of 2014 it was evident through Facebook and the Taiwanese forums of his enthusiasm in this newly discovered hobby, having already helped organize several contests in the southern Taiwan, and going to countless practice sessions, all while still studying for school and exams. Many of us tried to convince him to come over to the Asia Pacific Open in China in October, 2014, but understandably it was hard for him to afford as a student. Luckily, he was able to find the necessary resources to pull it off, and boy did that impact his flying career.
During the Asia Pacific Open, you could see him running around, talking to all the top pilots, asking about setups, strategies, techniques, and humbly accepting all opinions and suggestions. As a bystander it was easy to see his desire to grow within the sport. When it wasn't his turn to fly, he could be seen observing intently from the sidelines, trying to decipher the weather conditions and the rationale behind some of the pilots decisions. In the end, he finished 28th with a score of 73.80%.
The next time I saw him was in Pingtung, November 2014. This was during the ALS Cup and in that short 1 month period after the APO in China, his flying style has evolved to be much more mature and aggressive, with huge confidence in flying great distances even under high-pressure situations (okay, he did have a land-out that was almost a kilometer away!). It is so exciting to see the progress, using all that he learned and incorporating it into his training and seeing the results all within a month. He finished in 4th place, with a score of 91.86%.
Over the next several months, his contest scores continued to improve, and finally in February won his first F3K contest in Taiwan. With high hopes, he traveled to Singapore for the Singapore Open, along with some of the top pilots in the Asia-Pacific region, including Jon Day (Team Australia), and Tang Zhigao (Team China), who had respectively got 2nd and 3rd place respectively at the Asia Pacific Open just 7 months ago.
I was following the contest results and within the first two rounds, he was in the lead!!! None of us could believe it. I mean, okay, we all knew he improved a lot, but to lead the pack (even early on) against these pilots? That is incredible. It must be a fluke. Round three ended with Tang Zhigao bumping up to first and our teen down to second. Everyone was rooting for him now, sending him good vibes to continue his performance, and he flew consistently throughout the preliminaries and ended up at 2nd overall heading into the fly-offs. Now, this was the big test. Since fly-off scores are calculated from zero, no one has a cushion from the preliminary scores, can he continue his good form?
Yes. Yes he can, and he pulled it off in good fashion.
Going from number 28th just 7 months ago, to 1st place at the Singapore Open against arguable the best pilots in the entire Asia Pacific has made all his hard work worth it. Of course, once he got back to Taiwan for another contest the weekend after, he continued his dominance and won both preliminaries and fly-offs. Who is he?
His name is Hsuan Hsin Lee, and I am honored to be able to witness his rise from a beginner to become the dominating force in Taiwan F3K. It is also my pleasure to welcome him into the Team ArmSoar family.
Keep an eye out for him! It's going to be fun watching his progress in the future.