Jesenik 2023 – von Christian Rieger
A huge airfield, a relaxed contest managing style and perfect weather sound too good to be true? Then you have not been to Jesenik this year. You missed something!
This was my first trip to Jesenik. Some research ahead of the competition showed that flying conditions can be quite challenging and that that it is quite a trip from southern Germany.
The first thing applies to everyone, so it doesn’t really count and the second became much better during the Corona break with several new autobahn kilometers in the Czech Republic. It is still a long drive but it is possible in one drive. If possible,I can highly recommend an additional day trip to Prague on Thursday. You can find accommodations in the city center for a good price, enjoy the city and get to the competition absolutely relaxed. (Wrocław, Dresden, or Brno could be other good options. Next year…)
The landscape around Jesenik is absolutely stunning. Huge spaces with big fields, forests and scenic mountains nearby. It’s just a perfect spot for an F3B competition.
I arrived early on Friday and the training started a little late so there was some time to get up to speed with everybody and do some last-minute shopping. Some test flights allowed me to test the launch settings with a helper and have a look at the thermal situation around the field. There were little surprises, but the thermals were already strong, resulting in quite suddenly changing conditions directly at the field. In the evening I experienced one of the apparently many good dining options. So, add good meals to the list of positives.And don’t forget a nice camping field (or very affordable housing in the area), showers, restrooms and even a kitchen that we were allowed to use!
Saturday started at 8:15 with the briefing and shortly after with the competition.
First task: Duration. The first groups had some trouble finding the best spots to make the full 10 minutes. Later in the competition Andreas described the conditions as pleasant or enjoyable stress that I completely agree with. Duration was not a walk in the park, but it was usually doable when you have a plan and adopted quickly after launch. Additionally, the strong thermals started in very low altitude. You could find a strong thermal in 30m altitude regularly to still make your time. Wind was medium to strong on the first day, resulting in good launch heights. Those were definitely needed in the following distance task. You never knew what you will get and very good groups were followed by very low leg numbers directly afterwards. Now I knew a bit how the last F3B WC must have felt for the pilots. Speed completed the round with some low times but with less weather dependence than I expected.
With only 30 pilots and four people in the team it can get a little stressful, but Jan Stonavsky managed the competition excellently. There was no hurry between the groups and whenever your team was not ready, he waited a little bit extra to give everyone the best and equal chances. After the disciplines there was always a short break to get everything recharged (Batteries and Pilots).
The following second round was very similar. The thermal situation resulted in regular downwind flying (that I am not a big fan of) during duration to stay in the thermal, but they were always strong enough to ensure a safe travel back against the wind. In the evening we started round three with Duration and Distance. Unfortunately, I had a mishap in the first launch resulting in a damaged aircraft and missing most of the flights to look for some parts in the field and helping the team during distance. So, I will skip this round here.
Sunday started a little later at 8:30.
The wind was much calmer resulting in lower launch heights. Additionally, the thermals had much more influence and travelled slower. The speed round three showed this already. Speeds were much more reliant on the current weather conditions. And this intensified over the day.
Round four started with Duration. If you found a thermal and stuck with it you were golden most of the time. You just had to react fast after launch to not stay in some sinking air with little altitude reserves.
Distance and speed were of course influenced more due to the little wind and a lot of sun all day.
Some speed pilots had the possibility to circle and make incredible entry altitudes (but not always managed to convert it to good times), sometimes the launch was low and the air felt more like honey. Even top pilots had some times over 18s without a missed turn!
The final speed five was done in opposite order of the ranking. Again, due to the relaxed managing style this was no problem even if your teammates were stacking up closely.
In the end Andreas Herrig won ahead of Hans Rossmann and Berhard Flixeder.
If you look at the results there were quite some point differences even in the top 10. This allows for some errors without being completely off the ranking immediately. In my opinion a very nice thing.
I want to thank Jan and the entire organization and helpers crew for their great work and I can only recommend to everybody to come here next year! A big thanks to Marek Pavel and Roman Vojtech to help Jan with additional money and support to make this competition a reality.
Of course, the low number of pilots were a topic at the competition as well. Everybody wants to see more people again. Some new participants from Poland already made it to Jesenik, including a junior. We might also have to have some discussion about going back to smaller and cheaper model airfields (some of the readers might still remember Herten? It worked as well…) or adjusting the participating fees. Our hobby can be expensive sometimes, but if you compare the aircraft, gear, travel and accommodation costs, a few € for the organizers go a long way and could help keep these events in perfect locations running.
It is such a great hobby with thrilling winch launches, challenging flight tasks and electrifying teamwork. It is up to everyone of us, active pilots, teams and organizers to get all the people back into our fantastic sport after the pandemic.And get some new pilots interested as well. After all, there are a lot of pilots out there that already own a F3B model…