Mar 2004

IMPERIAL BANK NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Brits 2004

By Dale de Klerk

After the World Champs of 2003 none of the competitors, organisers, marshals, crew, helpers or even just bystanders had enough time to recover before the S A Nationals arrived. The Rally and Precision events were combined, as this is the format for the forthcoming Worlds in Denmark later this year. Due to lousy weather, lack of funds, time and various other excuses, the competitors did not put in the practise that they should have. Especially when compared to the hour’s put in last year. S A P F A managed to convince Deon and his team to organise and manage this years event at Brits airfield, and what a job they did! With limited funds and staff it was professionally planned in true “Deon” style.

Ernie Alexander and Adrian Pilling
Ernie Alexander and Adrian Pilling in the Theory Room

Day 1 Precisions:

Hazy weather and mist over the mountains saw the start delayed and all our nerves rattled, but once we got airborne, the competition was on. Staying on track and finding checkpoints is no longer a matter of just waiting for them to appear. The course was a tough one but very fair. From the point of view that if you had you thumb out your bum and your mind out of neutral everything would work. Obviously Nigel, Ron and Hans had just that with only 80 penalties separating the three of them.

Precision Landings:

Hans Schwebel - Landing
Hans Schwebel with a “Bingo”

This was held on the afternoon of day 1. Once again Nigel and Hans put in a stunning performance with 31 and 47 penalties respectively. One actually has to see these landings to appreciate them.

Day 2 Precisions:

Once again a slight delay due to weather but when it cleared the race was on. This time Adrian pulled out all the stops and gave Nigel a run for his money, getting to within 12 points of the champion. Yes! – again Nigel Hopkins the champ with Hans Schwebel 2nd and Adrian Pilling 3rd.

Day 1 Rally Flying:

Some rule changes have taken a lot of pressure off the navigator as far as plotting is concerned. But then that’s not all a navigator has to do. He now had to get more involved in observation as well as assisting the pilot in staying perfectly on track.

Deon and Dave Perelson
Deon van den Berg (Competition Director) and Dave Perelson (Chief Judge)

The route took us over the Magalliesberg and back. Then towards Rustenberg, up north past the Bospoort Dam and back to Brits. Nigel and Dale finished with only 10 flight and zero landing penalties and a total of 210 for the day. Barry and Mary closely followed them with 306.

Day 2 Rally Flying:

This route took us to the northeast of Brits in an area that none of us had really flown before. After four days of pressure and concentration, every crew was glad to see the finish. Nigel and Dale first again with only 10 flight penalties, zero landing and a total for the day of 110 with Barry and Mary giving them a hard time only 33 penalties behind. This time Hans and Ron pulled out all the stops and finished with 280 for the day. A logger failure for Frank and Quentin really spoilt their day but the have proved there ability on previous events.

Morné and Jurie du Toit won the sportsman class. With Brett Williams and his daughter, Christine 2nd.

The Precision team chosen to represent South Africa in Denmark later this year is:

  • Nigel Hopkins,
  • Hans Schwebel,
  • Ron Stirk,
  • Jan Hanekom,
  • Barry de Groot,
  • Ernie Alexander,
  • Dale de Klerk,
  • Walter Walle.

The Rally Flying team is:

  • Nigel Hopkins & Dale de Klerk
  • Barry de Groot & Mary de Klerk
  • Hans Schwebel & Ron Stirk
  • Ernie Alexander & Mike Ehrman
  • Jan Hanekom & Hugo Stark
  • Frank Eckard & Quentin Taylor

Rob Spencer-Scarr and Chris Booysen were appointed manager of the team.

Hugo Stark, Jan Hanekom, Mike Ehrman, Ernie Alexander, Ron Stirk, Hans Schwebel, Neil Delport (Seated/Sponsor), Quentin Taylor, Barry de Groot, Frank Eckard, Mary de Klerk, Dale de Klerk and Nigel Hopkins (Absent - Walter Walle) - 2004 SA Rally and Precision Team
L to R: Hugo Stark, Jan Hanekom, Mike Ehrman, Ernie Alexander, Ron Stirk, Hans Schwebel, Neil Delport (Seated/Sponsor), Quentin Taylor, Barry de Groot, Frank Eckard, Mary de Klerk, Dale de Klerk and Nigel Hopkins (Absent – Walter Walle)