The finale of the 2018/19 Speed Rally Championships was held at Secunda on the 10th August and was 6th in the series, and area to which it returned to the birth of the Speed Rally concept just under a year ago. This format of rally has gone from strength to strength with increasing entrants and popularity, with an initial entry list of 23 to over 40 at its peak at the Bethlehem event in June 2019.
Competitors and officials after Saturday's briefing
The backroom people that tirelessly and mostly unnoticed work behind the scenes to make it all happen
This being the season finale, the season's winners were to be crowned on Saturday at the prize-giving at the Secunda club. The Secunda club went all out to make this a memorable event and between SAPFA and the club, it had also arranged video recording teams to follow the preparation and the event's proceedings. The entries started out at 40, but some competitors dropped out due to technical issues and by Friday morning 32 entries were confirmed.
Club Chairman Hardie Voges made arrangements for food on site, accommodation and providing local members to assist with officiating. Some of the officials arrived early Friday to prepare the course and finalize the entries and their handicaps, where test flights were done throughout the day.
This event is one that is flown at full speed under handicap conditions. The course is around 125 nm long, has 11 or so turning points with each turning point identified with a correct photograph. For this event, the route was mostly to the northeast of the airfield, not in the most scenic part of the country, which is mostly dotted with power stations and coal mines. Competitors would thus have been more concerned about keeping track than looking at scenery.
Mary de Klerk providing some dedicated training for one of the new
Friday evenings briefing.
The weather on Friday started out really well, as the competition director flew in as a first arrival at 8 am with virtually no wind and with a warm day unfolding, but by noon the wind started to pick up and became gusty in the late afternoon with a severe temperature drop. This was due to a cold front moving through skirting the east coast. Arrivals started to pick up in the afternoon and with four new teams, Mary de Klerk provided some dedicated training for these teams.
Rob briefing the competitors on Friday
At 18h30, Jonty Esser, as the 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. He also explained how the scoring system would world work with expected weather conditions, which looked like early morning low cloud cover, but lifting towards the middle of the day.
Jonty during Friday's team introductions and number handovers.
Race Master Jonty Esser then took to the stage in his signature competing crew introductory theme song videos and race number handouts while also including introductions to the event and team sponsors. With increasing popularity, more and more sponsors have come on board and there are now 6 teams being sponsored by entities all vying for the teams to obtain top honors in winning. The latest of these being The Airplane Factory, sponsoring the Sling team of David Ross & James Braid and Beegle Micro Trackers sponsoring the team of Johan Whiteman & Quinton Kruger. A scrumptious braai was laid on by the club to end the evening with many spinning a yarn around the campfire.
Safety Officers Nigel Musgrave with ATC's Gontse Mogai and Marcus Pittner
The Century Aviation team that assisted in covering of GPS's
Pilot's Post supporter Dusty Stirk and Mary de Klerk, navigator with Phil Wakely , Pilot of team Pilot's Post
Competing aircraft on Saturday morning before the start of the race
Some of the competing teams before the race
For Saturday the briefing started at 8h30, which was a shortened version just to cover the basics of the route, radio procedures and weather. An opportunity was provided by the Speed Rally main sponsor Pilot Insure of the benefits of Aviation Life Insurance cover for pilots, followed by Beegle Micro Trackers, who provided some information on available flight trackers using the Iridium Satellite system and which and would be tracking 6 aircraft in the rally to monitor their progress on a screen in the clubhouse. This would provide spectator value to the event. The weather turned out to have low cloud develop in the north west and some teams could not arrive in time to take part with most of Jhb & Pta showing rainy and IMC conditions. Ass the morning wore on, the weather improved, although the wind started to pick up from the north as well.
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, Century Avionics were on hand to also block off Aircraft GPS systems for those who volunteered.
Teams hard at work plotting before starting the race
Scrutineers Chareen, Lizelle, Karen, Conrad and Alex were on hand to seal up all portable GPS capable devices while also handing out papers at the allotted time and also checking the fuel tanks were full. To assist the teams in getting their take-off roll accurate, a starting colour panel was used, which was set up next to the start line on the runway by Chief Marshal Jacques Jacobs and Mark Clulow, who would release them at their allotted time slot. Each team then received their envelopes with their loggers 20 minutes prior take-off time and then taxi to the starting line within 10 minutes of take-off time. 1st take-off was at 10h40 for the slowest aircraft and last take-off at 11h10, with planned arrival at 12h00.
With all the competitors heading off towards the south west, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turn points. In general, the competitors found the course easy enough this time round, with the photographs now in larger format to identify the ground features more prominently, which can be seen in the results, where many had a clear round in their tracks. At just before 12 noon, the first aircraft over the line was the Harmony ZU-FWS with Leon Bouttell and Martin Meyer, followed 10 seconds later by two Slings with half a second between them followed by Jonty & Jonathan Esser's C150. Within 2 minutes there were 15 aircraft over the line and within 6 minutes the remainder of the field, showing that less competitors had missed turn points or strayed too far off course. However with the wind picking up, the first of the slower aircraft gained more speed on the downwind home stretch to clip their handicap speeds.
The track of ZS-OZI - third in the accuracy results
One of the tracks having gone a little pear shaped
Socializing and waiting for the results
Overall leg winners Leon Bouttell & Martin Meyer
Johann Horn & Deidre Batchelor finished in second place
Father and son Hendrik & Jandre Loots was placed third
After all teams had returned, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results, completing the individual scores by 3 pm and who then prepared for the evening prize giving. The prize giving initially started with the MC Jonty Esser thanking everybody involved in the Speed Rally series for the contributions. This was followed by Rob Jonkers showing some interesting tracks for the day. Thereafter certificates and medals were handed out to competitors and officials that contributed to the success of the events held over the last year. For this the final in the season, the overall winners with the best handicap speed was Leon Bouttell & Martin Meyer in their Harmony ZU-FWS, while in second place were first timers Johann Horn & Deidre Batchelor in their Sling ZU-WMM. Father and son Hendrik & Jandre Loots nabbed the final step of the podium in their Sling ZU-IHK. The first twenty placings were the only crews who managed a clean penalty free round.
Accuracy winners David Ross & James Braid
Third place Bob Cohoe & Johann van Niekerk
The winners in the accuracy category were the team of David Ross & James Braid in a Sling ZU-JAR with father & son Ryan & Chris Shillaw in a Cirrus SR22 ZS-ACA the runners up with third place being awarded to Bob Cohoe & Johann van Niekerk in an American Champion Citabria ZS-OZI.
Team 1, Team Excel E&I, Leon Bouttell & Martin Meyer were the overall season winners
Team 3, Team Sling, David Ross & James Braid took the season overall 2nd place
With Team 2, Team Pilot's Post, Phil Wakeley & Mary de Klerk in 3rd place
The overall season winners were Leon Bouttell & Martin Meyer with 1000 points, David Ross & James Braid with 935 points and in third place the Pilot's Post entry Phil Wakeley & Mary de Klerk with 885 points. For the entire series, there were 85 teams that competed over the 6 events.
Saturday evenings dinner was sponsored by the Secunda Aero Club
Many thanks to the Secunda Aero Club for hosting this fantastic event, the SAPFA team of Jacques Jacobs and ground marshals, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Dirk and Louna de Vos and Mark Clulow for doing the scoring with our handicapping guru the honourable Chester Chandler adding to the list. Thanks are also extended to Marc Robinson with his team from Century Avionics for Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw and Lizelle Kruger handing out competition papers to the crews as well as Scrutineering with Jonty, Lizelle and Sandy for putting together an awesome Friday evening launch event. Thanks also extended to Santjie White of the ARCC who always watches over us and the ATNS team for managing the ATC for the weekend.
A huge word of thanks are also extended to Pilot Insure, who was the main sponsor of the event, Flightline Weekly for sponsoring the race numbers, team sponsors Excel E&I - Leon Bouttell and Martin Meyer, The Airplane Factory - David Ross and James Braid, Pilots Post's Phil Wakeley and Mary De Klerk, Pilot Insure - Jonty and Jonathan Esser, Beegle Micro Trackers - Quintin Kruger and Johan Whiteman, Prompt Roofing - Leon Joubert and Sandi Goddard.