The World Rally Flying Championships WRFC 2020 was planned to take place in Stellenbosch in November 2020, when Covid scuppered all chances of that in 2020, and neither could the National championships take place in April 2020. Fast forward to 2021 and we are back on track with the Championships to take place in 2021, where SA will still host it in Stellenbosch in November of this year, so it has become known as the WFRC 2021.
With this competition secured and the rules allowing each country to field a maximum of 10 teams, SAPFA set out as an objective to field 10 teams to qualify up to Protea team level, which had started back in 2019. With Jonty Esser as the national team coach, he set out to train novice teams, and given the limited opportunities in 2020, it was decided to hold a Nationals in April and a 2nd qualifier round in June to allow for maximum training opportunities to achieve the criteria to award Protea colours. At the Nationals, three teams qualified, which left the 2nd qualifying round to have another seven teams to qualify.
For this qualifying competition, Mary de Klerk took up the role of Competition Director to create the routes for the 3 days, ably assisted by Leon Bouttell, who between them, created the plot and the supporting photographs, each of them photographed from the air totalling around 100 to cover the 3 days, which was well worth it from the quality of the images being much better and more recent had Google images been used.
Each day's routes were in increasing difficulty, including the plot becoming more challenging, with 5 min less time each day between papers time and take-off time. There were 11 competitor teams taking part, with varied aircraft among them. Day 1 took the teams out north of Brits airfield and returning via Rooikopjes dam, mostly flat, which helps the timing somewhat. Day 2 was a clockwise route over the Magaliesburg mountains and south past the Hartebeespoort dam, with a difficult arc flight back over the ridge. Day 3 was an anti-clockwise route over Rustenburg before going south over the ridge with a good proportion of the flight down the centre of the Magalies valley.
The qualification criteria was to meet 30% of the total points available for each day (900) totalling 2700 for Protea Colours and 40% (1200) for Aero Club Colours. From these scores, a team for the WRFC 2021 could be selected. The score results below give the scores for the 3 days and the team selection that was made to represent SA at the World Championships. Now begins the training phase in earnest for the 10 teams, to get them ready for competing against their International counterparts, as we are determined to get podium positions in our own back yard.
Many thanks to Mary & Leon for organising a fantastic event, ably assisted by officials Jacques Jacobs (Landing judge and placing the elusive ground markers), Nigel Musgrave (Safety Officer and Landing line judge), Scrutineers Phil & Moira Wakeley, Sean Cronin, Renier Moolman, papers time keepers, Barbara Freibose, Ursula Schwebel, Anthea Cronin and logger management Sheila Kaiser:- it takes an extensive team to run an event such as this.
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