Tuesday, June 14, 2011

F3F French Championship 2011

I am back from the French F3F Championship which was held this weekend in the Vosges, Eastern France. I was glad to participate to this event as an off-rank foreign invitee. Out of about 38 qualified pilots, 27 registered for this championship this year.
On Saturday, we could fly only three rounds in varied but rather light conditions. Once in a while, the contest was interrupted by low winds. We could not manage to fly a fourth round which would have validated a minimal contest.

On day two, the weather was very nice, but there was almost no wind. We spent the day at the slope and many could enjoy free thermal chasing. I could fly for at least two hours (with interruptions) with my Cyril which thermalled very well. Once in a while, crazy dives showed my right wing half hastily repaired in Rügen was behaving well even with such irregular profile...
Today was third championship day and we really needed to fly a fourth round! From 9 AM to 2 PM, the weather was a wet mix of fine rain and heavy fog. We waiting patiently, discussing in groups, spending time doing some simulator flying on my netbook in a car trunk, joking and having a lot of fun and interesting contacts. Then the CD briefed us to walk up to the slope, although the fog was still quite present. Although astonished, we went and bases were rapidly set up. After 30 minutes or so, the cloud ceiling climbed to a more favorable height. I launched a test flight to check the cloud limit and it was largely high enough for F3F altitude gain. Wind was there, not very much but sufficiently for valid runs. The last round could then start.
There were some interruptions due to low wind or direction offsets, about 7 reflights, but around 4 PM everybody had a fourth valid flight. Since rain was menacing again, the championship was brought to end with four rounds.

In the evenings of Saturday, we had a lot of fun having a traditional meal in the local farm-restaurant below the slope. On Sunday evening, the organizer's father heated a steel wood stove outdoors to prepare a very nice local dish which looks like a very thin pizza, but with a mixture of fresh thick cream and liquid cheese instead of tomato. Over the creamy ground, there's sliced onions and bacon cubes in quantity. The thing is cooked in 3 minutes, so a new one was ready when the preceeding was just finished. We ate some 40 of those nice dishes, standing, chating, drinking beer, discussing and laughing. Very nice and convivial time!
The first few lines of the final ranking looks as follows. It is not the official ranking since I will not be ranked as foreigner.
New French Champion is Alexis Maréchal with 1000 points
Vice-champion is Pierre Rondel with 989 points
Bronze medal is Frédérique Hours with 966 points
4th Thomas Delabre, 959 points
5th Reto Blumer (SUI), 949 points
6th Andreas Fricke, 938 points
7th Yves Tirand, 938 points
8th Jean-Luc Foucher, 928 points
9th Matthieu Marvelet, 927 points
10th Thierry Lemonier, 924 points
Even if the contest encountered difficult weather conditions, I had plenty of fun and enjoyed every moment. Thanks to the organization, to the officials and helpers, and also many many thanks to the French F3F community as a whole for letting me fly among them.

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