The SAPFA Secunda Speed Rally – 28 August 2021
By Rob Jonkers. Photos by Willie Bodenstein and Rob Jonkers
This year we have returned again to the birth place of the Speed Rally, being the 4th time, this event has been held here, with 2018 the start of Season 1, and from 2020 having re-aligned the Speed Rallies to calendar year seasons, with this event being the 3rd event in Season 3, with the final event for Season 3 being at Springs on 27 Nov 2021.
With lockdown still at level 3, we limited the entries to 25 teams, and 22 had entered by the time the event entries closed on Friday 27th August. Our host club with Chairman Ashvir Kallis and Vice Chairman Lourence Mathee went all out to support the event, making the club facilities available and a braai for the Friday evening. The Aviation Junction flight school made their school facilities available for the scoring and officials’ team.
The weather outlook was looking challenging as the weekend was approaching, many warnings of severe cold and high winds predicted from a substantial cold front, and at dawn on Friday much low cloud and rain squalls made their appearance across Gauteng, which cleared later but with increasing gusty wind conditions. Having left Kitty Hawk at 10 am, caught a 30 kt tailwind to Secunda and had to deal with a 15 kt crosswind on landing. Around half the field chose rather to arrive early on Saturday, with some test flights also delayed to Saturday morning. The test flights were ably handled by Mauritz du Plessis and Iaan Myburg, with Iaan also taking up the role of scorer for this event having developed new scoring software.
At 18h30, Jonty Esser as the MC and Race Master introduced Rob Jonkers who took to the stage and provided a briefing on what to expect for the next day in terms of the planned route, how many turnpoints, distance, departure and arrivals protocol, and also how the scoring system would world work and the expected weather conditions. This year’s route would include a cross-over, which would bring more spectator interaction as the aircraft came over the field at the half way mark.
Jonty Esser then took to the stage in his signature competing crew introductory theme song videos and race number handouts, and also including introductions to the team sponsors, which has picked up this year after a disastrous 2020, and great to see the sponsors returning to support their teams. A scrumptious braai was laid on by the club to end the evening with around the fire stories on a high note.
For Saturday the briefing started at 8h00, which was a shortened version just to cover the basics of the route, radio procedures and weather, which at least had improved wind conditions from the Friday, starting out at 10 kts with a maximum of 15 kts predicted in a westerly direction, which would at least be favourable for runway 29. Some line squalls were also in the area, with the cloud base at least more than 1000 ft, with good visibility.
With the briefing over, teams prepared their aircraft, while the organisers got the papers ready. Each team would then receive an envelope with a map, turnpoint photos, a minute marker and a GPS logger to record their track. Aircraft were then also scrutineered with all portable electronic devices sealed up in bags. For this event Mark & Shane from Century Avionics were on hand to also block off / seal Aircraft GPS and autopilot systems, and also checking the fuel tanks were full.
The Pilot Insure Scrutineer Team were on hand to seal up all portable GPS capable devices, with the papers team under guidance of Lizelle handing out papers at the allotted time, Chief Marshall Adrian Cronje and Starters Mauritz & Chareen set up at the starting line adjacent the threshold of Runway 29, who would release each aircraft at their allotted time slot. Each team then received their envelopes with their loggers at 20 minutes prior take-off time, taxi to the starting line within 10 minutes of brake release. 1st take-off was at 10h20 for the slowest aircraft which was a Magni Gyrocopter (the first time a gyro has taken part) and last take-off at 11h10, with planned arrival at 12h00.
With all the competitors off towards the south west, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turnpoints. In general the competitors found the course easy enough. At just before 12h00, the first aircraft over the line was a little early, and then followed by at least three quarters of the field within 1 minute, with tail enders after that.
After all teams having returned, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results, completing the individual scores by 14h00, with prize giving planned for at 15:00. In the meantime, most of the competitors being concerned over deteriorating weather decided to return to their home bases, thus a call was made at 14h30 to rather hold a virtual prize giving, which Race Master Jonty carried out at 5 PM on the WhatsApp platform. MC Jonty Esser thanked everybody in the Speed Rally series for their contributions.
The winners in the handicap category were Deidre Batchelor & Dave Naude in their Jabiru ZU-EBU, in second place Mike Blackburn & Steve Briggs in a Sling ZU-IBM and in third place the Evans Racing team Jonty & Jonathan Esser in their C150 ZU-BLL. The first thirteen placings were the only crews who managed a clean penalty free round.
The winners in the accuracy category were the Gem air sponsored team of Phil Wakeley & Mary de Klerk in their C210 ZS-CNY, in second place Fanie Scholtz & Herman Haasbroek in their Sling ZU-FZF, and in third place Leon Bouttell & Martin Meyer in their Evektor Harmony ZU-FWS..
Overall Standings are in first place father and son Apie & Frederik Kotzee, in second place another father and son Johan Whiteman & Quintin Kruger in their Cherokee 235 ZS-FVV, and in third place another father & son team of Hendrik & Jandre Loots flying their Sling ZU-IHK. This is the first time the first 3 overall placed teams are all father and sons.
Many thanks to the Secunda Aero Club for hosting this fantastic event, the SAPFA team of Adrian Cronje as the Chief Marshall, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Iaan & Tarryn Myburg doing the scoring, Mauritz du Plessis doing test flights and starting, Marc & Shane from Century Avionics for Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw as the Event Secretary, Lizelle Kruger, Clarissa Dacostaesilva, Ariana Rompel, Leonie du Plessis for handing out competition papers to the crews, the Pilot Insure team under David le Roux for Scrutineering, Jonty & Lizelle & Sandi for putting together an awesome Friday evening launch event, and Anneke Pretorius for looking after officials lunches. Santjie & Jean Marie White were also on hand to ensure all aircraft are accounted for during and post the event.