[Headline: Team USA at the F3J World Soaring Championship]
In July 2014, the World Soaring Championship was contested in Martin, Slovakia. The US F3J team members were Jody Miller, Daryl Perkins, and Chris Lee; the US Junior team was Tristan Sherman, Dillon Graves, and Dominic Lewis.
The Martin venue is a small grass airfield, used primarily for full-scale gliding, and is situated in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains that are often shrouded in clouds. There is probably no more scenic location than this to hold such an event, and the variable weather conditions created a challenge for the 80 pilots and 30 Junior contestants who were entered in the event. Thirty countries from around the world were represented, with 14 countries entering Juniors.
Seven rounds were completed in the first three days and the USA team performed well, with Daryl leading the charge in first place, Jody in sixth, and Chris in 32nd. The Junior competition saw Dillon in first place, Dominic in eighth, and Tristan (after a couple of off-field landings) in 30th.
On the fourth day, the US team continued with good scores. After eight rounds, the US had the top team position after eight rounds, while the Juniors moved up to third place in team competition. In the afternoon during round nine, conditions deteriorated. A 10 to 15 mph wind blew light lift downwind fast. A large band of high clouds had obscured the sun all day and the lift was hard to read and often insufficient to buy a ride home.
Jody and Daryl both suffered off-field landings trying to get out downwind, while Chris made the best of the tough conditions to move up the leaderboard. Tristan flew light and got high enough to make it back for the only 1,000 points the team scored during round nine.
The damage was done though. Jody flew in round 10 late on day four, finding the windy, light conditions too tough for him. He slipped a long way down the board with his second low score. Daryl also missed the cut with two low scores.
During the final preliminaries on day five, the US dropped out of contention as a team on the podium, although Chris Lee, with consistent performances, nearly made the finals by finishing in 15th place.
The Juniors maintained their consistency to the end, placing third as a team, with Dillon completing the preliminaries in second, Dominic in eighth, and Tristan, who put his rough start behind him, finishing the contest in 19th place.
The flyoffs saw Dillon and Dominic both fighting it out in the Junior finals with six 15-minute rounds planned during the late afternoon of day five and the morning of day six. Dillon’s first two rounds in the flyoffs ended in disaster with off-field landings in the late evening air, putting an end to his campaign.
Dominic, who showed his maturity with some classy thermal flying, was the highest-placing US pilot, finishing in fourth place. Dillon’s 14:58.7-100 score in the final round of the Junior finals was a gem. He took a super-short tow and nailed the target with milliseconds to spare. The winning Junior pilot and new Junior World Champion is Marco Gallizia of Italy.
The Senior category saw Jan Littva of Slovakia and Joe Wurts of New Zealand fighting it out in the flyoff rounds, with Jan nailing six out of six perfect 100s during the finals to take the 2014 F3J World Champion title.
On presentation night, the Team USA Juniors proudly accepted bronze medals for their performances. Although disappointed that the Senior team didn’t do better, the experience will make all the US pilots better for the next time around.
As the Junior team manager, I was involved with the fundraising efforts. Reduced sponsorship and less AMA funding made the effort to send a team to the contest much harder than in previous years.
Experienced towers were required to successfully launch the models and the US had the excellent services of Phil Barnes, Frankie Burnoski, and Dave Kalamen in Slovakia. The total team included three Senior pilots, three Junior pilots, two team managers, and three towers. The budget for this endeavor was in excess of $47,000. Only $8,000 was covered by the AMA this season because the towers were not recognized as part of the team.
Although the team did not raise enough funds to fully cover expenses, we would like to thank the Soaring public and our sponsors for the kind donations provided to make attending this 2014 World Championship possible for the USA.[dingbat]
Team USA F3J
RC Model Klub Martin
League of Silent Flight (LSF)