by Willie BodensteinThe PTAR, first held in 1937, then called the Governor’s Cup, coincided with the opening of the new Durban airport at Stamford Hill. Over the years it has evolved into a two-day race handicap race the aim of which is to go as fast as you possibly can around a given course. Held annually in May or early June, it is probably the most prestigious events on the South African aviation calendar. Like in the past the race, to keep up with new technology, has gone through a number of rule and other changes and this year, the 84th Race, was no different. By popular request from the racing community the accuracy element introduced a couple of years ago has been removed and a plotting element has been re-introduced. To achieve a fair competition and reduce the opportunity to circumvent 3D speed padding, the event format encourages crews to fly at their maximum potential by keeping key variables unknown. Two speeds are important to understand namely the 3D speed (the speed calculated in 3-dimensional space) and handicap speed (speed calculated based on the course). On Day 1 each crew received a 3D speed and a chart with a pre-plotted route, including headings rounded to 5 degrees. The chart scale and route distance will not be made available to the crews. The aim on day one is to complete the route in as quick a time as possible. Time penalties will be applied for cutting corners, altitude infringements and exceeding your start 3D speed by an unfair margin. 3D speed flown on day one will impact the start 3D speed for Day 2. Time gains or losses will carry over to Day 2. On Day 2 each crew received an updated 3D speed and a blank chart with a 1:250 000 scale and instructions to plot their own turn points. The start times for each crew will be adjusted for the day one time gain or loss, and the first plane over the finish line will be crowned the 2023 Presidents Trophy winner. Middelburg therefore was to be the testing ground for these new rules. Proof, if needed, of the popularity of the race is Cobus Broodryk and Mario Febbraio who flew from Mosselbay in the Cape to Middelburg a distance of 1377.06 km or 853.78 miles. Tarryn Myburgh with husband Iaan, as well as race master, David le Roux were largely reasonable for the organising of the race , a massive undertaking. The friendly ladies of SANTAM Insurance who helped by manning the registration marquee. It was a perfect day for air racing when I arrived midmorning on Thursday the 25th. Twenty-eight, down from last year and the year before had entered. I’m not going to speculate on the reasons for the rather disappointing support. Those that did entered were there to compete and enjoy themselves and that is what counts. Most of the day was spend with final speed testing to set or verify handicap speeds as well as to put the final touches to the venue. This is the second major event hosted by the wonderful people of Middelburg Flying Club and Richardt and Irene Lovett. Earlier they had hasted the prestigious Aeroclub Airweek and two weeks from now the EAA of SA’s Annual Convention will be held at this always immaculately maintained field. Kudos to the good people of this dynamic club!!! Race day one, Friday was a typical winters day. It was still cold but better than yesterday and the wind played ball. The good news is that there were quite a large contingent of first timers. That bodes well for the future of the iconic race. The PTAR is a handicap race with the fastest aircraft starting first on day one. The starting order for day two being reversed. Fittingly it was Middelburg’s Richardt Lovett and Alme’ro Calitz who was waved of first. It was their first time flying a rally. They were competing in Richardt and Irene’s stunning Vans RV14 that the two have built. I believe they are now busy adding a Vans RV8 to their fleet. It seems as if the building bug has really bitten them! They were followed in quick succession by
- Husband and wife Adriaan and Elmie Kleyn in their Vans Aircraft RV-14A, Richard and William Richard Day in their Cessna 210N,
- Paul Marskell and Bill Bales-Smith in a Van’s Aircraft RV-10 Paul Marskell Bill Bales-Smith,
- Johan van Zyl and Eric Addison in a Van’s Aircraft RV-7,
- John Sayers and Dion Raath in the North American T-6G, etc.
- Frederik Kotzee & Apie Kotzee.
- Quintin Kruger & Johan Whiteman.
- John Sayers & Dion Raath.
- Stefan Lombard & Martiens Marais.
- Henry Richard Daly & William Richard Daly.
- Jakes van Strijp & Werner Vos.
- Theodor Boshoff & Frans Boshoff.
- Paul Marskell Bill & Bales-Smith.
- Mark Bristow & Quinton Warne.
- Leon Bouttell & Rob Jonkers.
- John & Judy Lehman
- Dewald Te Water & WA De Klerk
- Fanie Scholtz & Herman Haasbroek.
- Adriaan & Elmie Kleyn.
And the winners were race number 4 ZU-ACP the Aermacchi AM3C of Frederik and father Apie Kotzee.
With race number 45 ZS-WSE the North American T-6G of John Sayers and Dion Raath in second.
Followed by race number 6 ZS-FVV the Piper PA-28-235C of Quintin Kruger and Johan Whiteman.