Clareville was the destination for this year’s MFNZ Nationals, at a slightly early start date of 31st Dec. The weather over the 5 days was simply stunning. Dead calm in the mornings, with light winds in the afternoons, usually dropping off in the evening. Best Clareville weather ever. We had some 160 registrations in the nats, and approx. 65 people were at the final BBQ and Prize giving, which is a great result compared to the previous Matamata nats final prize giving, with barely 20 people in attendance. This was good to see, and no doubt a result of the timing, with the nats final day being a Saturday, allowing people time to drive home on the Sunday, and some starting work on the Monday.
This nats we had a few social events to try and bring everyone together, a spit roast dinner on the first night of the Nats (New Years Eve), followed by Aggy, and then later a movie night in the hall which was well attended. A Jet engine from an actual Strike Master was fired up before midnight, and then on the stroke of 12, the pulse jet control line model roared into life and flew at the hands of Brendan and Andrew Robinson. Now that’s how you start the New Year !!! Later in the week Trina Briggs took a bunch of ladies out on a winery tour. Probably the only down side, was the lack of camping at the nats, nothing like it used to be, the northern powered end of the campsite was pretty much empty, other than a few “Boomers”. The area under the trees in the non powered section was not too bad, but definitely less than the usual. I think the avg age now makes the “motel” option look too good for some. We setup by “Lake Clareville”, and for the first time in a while, went home with a tent fully in tact, no broken bits.
All the Clubman fliers with their models and callers
Over the week we had 20 people fly Aerobatics in some form or another (eg IMAC, Pattern, Classic), which was great considering the numbers on boxing day looked like it would be difficult to even run Aerobatics due to lack of judging power. Some last minute phoning and texting managed to drum up a few more people. Entering after the online system has been taken down (it was on Boxing Day) actually causes some real headaches for the CD, and the Nats results guy Phil Eldridge. I will explain why … when we start the nats on Day 1, we receive a file from Phil for every class we intend to fly (Basic, Sportsman, Expert etc). Each file lists the pilots names and their MFNZ Numbers. At the end of the week we put your final scores into this file, and send it back to Phil so he can do an import, and then “Whalla” the Aerobatic scores are all into the nats database at the click of a button. At the end of the week time is tight, Phil is busy, and lots of results are coming in. The problem is, if you have entered late, you name and MFNZ number won’t be in that file. It causes some extra work for the CD and for Phil to get your late entry taken care of so your points go through. There are some improvements that we can make to help with this situation from an Admin point of view. But you could make our life a lot easier by entering early, and online, before the online entry system is closed off. If you are not sure that you will come to the nats, or you just don’t know, just enter anyway. It costs you nothing. If you don’t make it to the nats, or decide not to come, it’s no problem. Just send a quick text to the CD so they know you aren’t going to be there. From a CD’s point of view, we would rather people entered online, and didn’t show up because plans changed, than not enter at all, and then have to enter late. It means we won’t be left guessing who might show up. There is no late fee for entering late, and we don’t want to deter people from coming to the nats. But when you do enter late, you probably don’t realise that you are actually causing a lot of extra admin. Please keep that in mind for next time, and if you do enter late, you might find you need to load some beer into the CD’s car, so he can process you scores .
Ok, now onto the flying …..
The first morning of the nats we started flying IMAC. 5 in Basic, 5 in Sportsman, 3 in Advanced. There was no one there to fly intermediate, and with only me signed up to fly Unlimited, that was a non event too. So with the number of flyers we had, it was no stress, one flightline, and lovely calm conditions. Happy Times !!! Before we started, an impromptu 20 min judging quiz was held, something that we will be doing more often at events, to try and get those judging skills improved. Have you read the judging guide lately ? If not, you should, so you can do your job as a judge with confidence you know what you’re doing. We did a demo flight of the Basic sequence, for the newbies, and by 9am we were into the first rounds. In Basic Aaron Maitland from way up north in Tuakau, took a commanding lead ahead of Stephen Collins from Cambridge who was not far behind finishing in 2nd. Two Juniors, Tawhai Webby from Whangarei and Max Briggs from Hamilton battled it out for 3rd place, with Tawhai eventually edging in front of Max. Stew Irvine from Auckland had only entered Clubman, but with some encouragement from the CD, was enrolled to have a go at Basic too, and he did well for his first time, helped by his brother Murray. On the following afternoon Tony Christiansen also started flying Basic, but motor trouble put an end to the fun there.
Expert Pattern fliers
Sportsman was won by John Danks flying John Knox’s 120cc Extra, and using every inch of our notamed ceiling. Kerry Nichols flying his 100cc Extra 260 finished up in 2nd place, just ahead of Mike Briggs flying 150cc Extra. Rounding out the field were Ian Hill from Wellington and Murray Irvine from Nelson.
We had 3 guys flying Advanced, with John Knox taking the win there. James Farrow from Kapiti managed to take a round off John to finish 2nd, ahead of Chris Wong from the Hawkes Bay in 3rd. All 3 guys flying DA120 powered models.
By midday the field was taken over by the Scale SIG who enjoyed the nice conditions for the rest of the day, and they completed their event off the following morning with a bit of time to spare. No stress nats, things were going well so far.
Day 2 we were back underway with IMAC in the afternoon, more known rounds, plus unknowns for the Sportsman and Advanced guys. By the end of the day we had gotten through plenty of flying, IMAC was all done, and we managed to get in a round of Classic. The pattern poles were setup in preparation for the following morning by volunteers using Andrew Palmers smart phone app to put the poles out, it took a while to get peoples phones to install the app and get setup, but once sorted, it made getting those poles in place a lot easier than in previous years. Have a look at installing “F3A Zone Pro” on your smart phone, you can use it to mark out the box at you flying site. You don’t need poles at 150m, a few cones will do the trick, and you can put them out part way. Give it a go it’s really easy to do, and it will help you with staying in the box while practising.
Advanced IMAC flyers
Day 3 – Early in the morning we kicked into flying Pattern with 3 rounds of Clubman, with a really good turnout of 7 guys all keen to give it a go. Before we started, we did a demo flight and some hints and tips for the newbies. Clubman was flown over one flightline in calm weather to start with. Something that was a bonus for us, but not so much for our friends over the Tasman, due to the massive bushfires happening in Ozzy, the sky looking east was a smokey orange colour, and the sun looked like the moon. It was really quite strange. This meant we were able to fly facing directly into the sun, using the box that was set up for afternoon flying, with it not being a problem at all. Aaron Maitland won Clubman with his son Ricki calling for him, with some great flying. We look forward to seeing Aaron at more events in future, and a move up to Expert Pattern and Sportsman IMAC will no doubt be on the cards now. Stephen Collins was not far behind in 2nd, flying his Calmato, and some tidy flying too. A few locals, Lew Woods and Rene Redmond both came to the nats with Classic models, but opted to fly Clubman instead. Lew ended up in 3rd, flying his Phoenix, and he managed to win the 2nd round with some really great flying, and lots of entertainment along the way. His pitt crew Tarquin and Lew’s grandson Ruben really had their hands full keeping Lew in tow !!! Max finished 4th flying the Kwik Fli and got the best landing score of the day, with a 10 from the Judges, for a real “greaser” right down the centre of the runway. This was Max’s first competition flying Basic and Clubman. Rene Redmond was 5th, his model was also a classic, another Phil Kraft “Kwik Fli”. Young Tawhai Webby was 6th flying an electric foamy, keep an eye out for him they have a 90 sized pattern model nearly ready to go. Stew Irvine was in 7th, another first timer, representing Highbrook club in Auckland, and flying his electric “yellow rocket”. Really great to see so many guys coming and having a go at Clubman after our recent intro days held around the country, and our loop roll and win promo. We have really struggled to get people to come and fly Clubman at the nats over the last little while, because of that scary word “The Nationals”, it seems to cause your avg club guy to shake in his flying boots at the thought of even putting his gear on charge. In reality it’s all newbies just having a go, enjoying the fun, and learning lots. Back in my day (“ok Boomer”) we would have 15 guys flying “Novice Pattern”, and we had so many entered it was run over two flightlines and a 7am start !!! So congrats to all 7 who got involved, we look forward to seeing you at other events around the country this summer.
Following Clubman Expert Pattern got underway. 5 guys flying Expert, this is a simple turn around schedule designed to be a step up from Clubman, and to get you into the mode of learning how to fly “in the box”. Expert was won by the only Jnr in this class, Sean Galloway flying an electric model the Matrix. Kerry Nichols was 2nd, he finally got a receiver in the Pegasus that he’d bought over a year ago, and had it setup and test flown the night before. Ian Hill was 3rd, he did well and won the first round. Murray Irvine from Nelson was 4th, great to see him there representing the south island, he drove to the nats with a car full of models. Baldrick did not have such a great go at Expert, a dropped cell in his batteries caused an earlier than expected “arrival” resulting in under carriage damage that saw him out for the rest of the event.
We flew till midday, and at this stage the Pylon SIG took to the field, with Pattern scheduled to be completed on the afternoon of Day 4. Pylon finished off the next morning with time to spare, and we got underway on the afternoon of Day 4 in moderate wind, but not too bad, and straight down the strip.
Masters A20 was flown by Ewan Galloway and John Danks. Unfortunately with only 2 guys flying it was not an official “nats” event as far as nats points goes, but it was still flown never the less. These guys swapped round wins every time they flew, and the final result was only 4 points separating the two, with JD taking home the silver.
F3A was flown over 3 rounds, with 4 guys flying. Frazer Briggs, Hamish Galloway, John Knox and Chris Wong. It was Glow vs Electric. Frazer and Chris running YS, vs Hamish and John electric power. This was also the first contest flying the new P21 schedule. The results finished in that same order with some close flying between Frazer and Hamish.
The last thing we needed to do was finish flying Classic. By now the weather had calmed off to almost nothing, and we completed two more rounds of the classic schedule. Frazer had his 61 powered Hanno “Magic”, Ewan and Hamish flew the “Twister”, Stephen Collins flew a “UFO”. Kerry and Murray flew non classic models. As mentioned earlier, Lew and Rene also had classic models, but opted to fly Clubman. So overall there were 5 true classic models at the nats, and with this class starting to gain momentum, I’m sure we will see more in the future. Something mentioned at the AGM, we will post some info here about “who is building what” as far as classic models go, to try and harness the momentum and keep it rolling. Classic was a lot of fun for the guys that flew it, and it made for a really great end to the week’s flying.
During the nats, our AGM was held one evening. The meeting went through pretty quickly, the committee is pretty much the same. We thanked outgoing committee member Mike Wilson for his help last year, and welcomed Aaron Maitland onto the committee. The main topic of discussion during general business being the timing of the nats. We had a number of people that simply could not make the nats this year due to its timing being over new years, and other commitments. For the “Boomers” it’s not a problem, but for people with young families, going away to the beach and doing “family stuff” is taking precedence over going to Clareville (the middle of nowhere) and flying model planes. The problem we have coming up for the next nats, the timing is even worse. Take a look at a calendar and you will see. The first “Monday” that people might go back to work is the 4th Jan. Timing the nats to finish on the Saturday prior will mean an even earlier start, with contest flying needing to be started on 29th December. These are the same dates the nationals used to be run to for a long time until we pushed for an “after new years start”. So the question is, if the nats started after new years, will you be there ? When do you think you will be back at work ? Would we get the same numbers if it was pushed out by a week ? This nats was a great turnout for a Clareville Nats with 160 people registering, so clearly this timing worked for a lot of people. At the final prizegiving a quick show of hands poll was taken, with a massive majority preferring the “over new years” dates that were just run. Of course those that couldn’t make it were not there to vote the other way, so we will doing an online poll in the next month or so. Reply to the poll so we have some numbers to work on. Talking to many “RC1” guys during the week, they were all ok with the nats starting later, and none of them are even thinking about work till mid January anyway. Had the nats started on 3rd Jan, we might have had another 10 guys flying Aerobatics over the week. That would have meant two flightlines in some classes to get it all through. We drove home from the nats in wild windy weather on the Sunday, and it was like that in Masterton for the next few days, so actually the result would have been perhaps a few more people entered, but a lot of standing around unable to fly because it was too windy, and no doubt some broken tents.