Wakefield International Cup
2001 Oleg Kulakovsky, Ukraine
At the end of the last chapter it was recorded that Australia had been awarded the 2001 World Championships. However, those plans came apart and in early 2000 the CIAM had accepted the USA offer to host these championships. For seventeen of the intervening months everything progressed towards another Californian free flight festival, then the world events of September 11 drew a shadow over this expectation. The AMA and SCAT Club determined to continue the championships and on October 8th they were rewarded with the arrival of most of the expected competitors. China and Croatia teams did not come and some individual competitors chose not to attend, but the only clear casualty of the security clampdown was that the Bosnian team were not granted visas to enter the USA. Years ago there had been an FAI rule that if a team was prevented from entering the country then the championships were void, but the FAI General Section now just requires that the organisers make every reasonable effort to ensure admission into the country. The AMA and SCAT did everything possible to obtain admission for the Bosnians but unfortunately failed.
Twenty nine countries were represented and the number of competitors in each class was almost identical with those in Israel in 1999, which itself had been about 20% down on the preceding world champs in Europe.
The Canada Cup World Cup event had been held at Lost Hills just before the champs began and, as usual for an event at such a time, there was a very large entry. It gave competitors a good chance to get used to competition on the field.
For the World Champs most competitors were accommodated in motels at Lost Hills and Buttonwillow, with the high demand forcing the price up from the typical level. A small packed lunch was provided on the field, there was the opening barbecue and final banquet, but no other food was provided and meals had to be purchased in the local restaurants - for a rather higher price than the $20 per day which had been estimated to CIAM.
Processing took place in a large tent on the field, starting on Monday, which was the nominal arrival day, and continuing on Tuesday. It was done so efficiently that it was completed well before the end of the second day, with very little waiting time for each team. "Processing" this year involves checking that the four models of each competitor have the required markings (national abbreviation, competitor licence number and individual model identification numbers/letters) and putting stickers on the models to signify that they have been registered. The models, motors and towlines are no longer weighed or measured at this stage, but the official equipment was available for anyone to check models for themselves.
The opening ceremony was in Wasco, about 20 miles from Lost Hills, on Tuesday afternoon followed by a barbecue and team managers meeting. One specific rule explained at the meeting was the rule adopted by CIAM from 2002 but added as a special condition on this champs: the rule classing a flight as an attempt if under 20 seconds only applied if the model did not DT. The field rules included keeping spectators and motor bikes from the starting line. The bikes could be used for retrieving but it was forbidden to ride in circles to generate lift under models - compliance was periodically checked by downwind observers on bikes. Any flapping had to be on foot.
Wednesday was the first competition day for F1A gliders. 41 competitors made it to the five minute flyoff round that evening, reduced to 39 gathered trying for seven minutes in much cooler conditions. Just Per Findahl and Maarten van Dijk maxed to go into a two-man flyoff at 7.15 the following morning. Findahl took the title - the first winner from Sweden of the glider Swedish Cup - and Wakefield could start. Only 6 of the 73 competitors failed the round 1 max of 3.30.
Round two also had gentle air which made the max easy, but after that the rougher air of the day brewed up. During round three the casualties included Gorban, Siltz, Morrell from the home team, and Ben Itzhak (1979 world champion at Taft).
Igor Silberg, who took third place in the 1969 Champs when flying for USSR, now flies for Germany and had an interesting long run model. This had maxed comfortably in the first three rounds but managed only 154 seconds in round four. The prop had folded at 130 sec at a very low height - giving less than half a minute glide - in the manner of low powered models in bad air. The long thin motor stretched the full length of the fuselage to the tailplane trailing edge and the time was mounted at the front of the fuselage to balance the weight of the rear fuselage and motor. A refreshing contrast to the conventional Ukrainian models and it would have been interesting to see it really compared in a flyoff.
Round 5, after the lunch break was the hardest round so far. This reduced the number of full scores from 52 to 42. By round 6 it was quite cloudy, but still warm and thermally and most of the entry went away in a few large bumps.
At the start of the final round Slovenia, Sweden, UK, and Yugoslavia teams had full scores. Walt Ghio missed the lift and spoilt his full score. Chrebtov (Russia) was the only other person to suffer this fate in round 7 and 38 flyers went forward to the flyoff.
At the 5pm time of the first flyoff there was a steady breeze and it looked as though 5 minutes would be nearing the limits of visibility with haze in front of the mountains. There was no rush to fly quickly, but when they did go there was little doubt about it and 24 of the 38 maxed. This included all three of the Yugoslav team, who started a premature celebration of a team victory - but for teams tied on the seven round total the team places are decided by the minimum sum of the final places of the individual team members and this could not yet be determined.
The air had cooled and the drift reduced by the 6.15pm start time for the second round. This seven minute round was to be more difficult. While quite a few flyers cleared six minutes only seven reached the max. Kolic and Eimar were amongst this elite, but the team prize was now determined to go to Sweden - the two other Yugoslav flyers were so low down the list that, whatever the final places in the top seven, Sweden had a margin of at least one place better than Yugoslavia. The others in the flyoff were Blake Jensen for the host country, Horak for Canada, Richard Blackam from Australia (fellow Aussie Terry Bond having dropped only 17 seconds in the second flyoff) and the two Ukrainians Stefanchuk (on the national team) and Kulakovsky defending his championship title.
Next day the final showdown began at 7.10am in the usual Lost Hills quiet morning air. One and a half minutes after the start Kolic was first to be ready to launch and a few seconds later he did so. A couple of minutes later Eimar and Horak flew while the others did not hurry to launch. Blackam, Kulakovsky and Jensen flew late in the round and Stefanchuk, having had motor problems, was left on the line when the end of the round was sounded. The last people to launch looked to have the best air with Kulakovsky's high aspect ratio model no. 32 apparently holding up best on the glide. The models were watched down by the timekeepers but the spectators couldn't really tell except that the defending champion had been most impressive. The times confirmed this with Oleg retaining his title by a margin of over 100 seconds above the closely placed second and third. Local pride was upheld by Blake Jensen's silver medal and Australia were pretty pleased with Richard's third, particularly when backed up by Terry Bond also in the top ten.
The banquet was at Stockdale Country Club in Bakersfield, an hour away by the coaches provided for the participants from Lost Hills and Buttonwillow. Some national anthems were not played fully - or at all in the case of Sweden, with the Wakefield team eventually rendering an impressive vocal version.
Thus ended a champs which had given another opportunity to meet friends - competing, timing and helping. It will be remembered for superb field organisation and weather, and also for the different national atmosphere which made international friendship somewhat stronger.
|Access full results|
|2001 Team Results for Penaud Cup|
|Place||Country||Abbreviation||Total||Team member places|