Report from Wilifred Ekholt
ftmahon.jpg 7.95KB 11 downloadsFrom the 3rd to the 5th of October the European Championship took place in Fort Mahon. Fort Mahon is a little town about 20 kilometres from Berck sur Mer. Winds were very strong throughout the three days, and on Saturday all competitions were cancelled. Too much wind!
The competitions were flown on Sunday, instead. The organizer opened three fields for flying and everything went well. In some competitions only the ballet was flown and in others, just the compulsory figures.
In Team Dual-line competition, Lungta (France) won first place while Air de Rien (France) and Garuda (Germany) placed second and third respectively. I don't understand why Carl and James haven't formed a new Airkraft team; it wouldn't matter if it was comprised of three flyers, in my opinion.
fort2.jpg 38.36KB 11 downloadsThere were also some really surprising results. In the Individual Quad-line competition, Guido Maiocchi (Italy) came out ahead of James Robertshaw (Great Britain) and Mark Lummas (Great Britain). The second surprise was when Bi Dance (Skydance) topped Evolver (the Robertshaw brothers) and Rainbow from Germany in Quad-line Pairs. In the Dual-line Pairs, the result was reversed: Evolver garnered first place, ahead of Bi Dance and Antinea.
In the big fight for top spot in the Dual-line competition there was a little scandal between Great Britain and France. Five flyers protested the judging of Carl Robertshaw. After a discussion between the flyers, the controversial figure was taken out of the judging. As a result, it was no longer possible for Frenchman Patrick Somelet to finish in the top three. Carl Robertshaw claimed the title of the European champion, with second and third place awards going to Christophe Cardon (France) and Daniel Wolfinger (Switzerland). During the presentation ceremony, Patrick Somelet displayed what many spectators agreed was very unsportsmanlike behavior when he stepped in front of Carl Robertshaw, to receive the accolades he felt he deserved.
On a more honorable note, eighteen year old Martin Klein of Germany earned a surprising and commendable sixth place finish with his wildcard entry!
(Ed. "Wildcards" are passes distributed by S.T.A.C.K. to those among the top 15 fliers who did not otherwise qualify by being '98 champs, or STACK national champs)
Sunday afternoon also featured a trick fly competition, combined with a single-line competition, which offered a purse of 10,000 French francs. The trick fly was set up so that two fliers flew against each other simultaneously, adjudicated by a panel of three.
Unfortunately, there were very few spectators because the date and location of this event were known only to insiders. A good competition nevertheless, and hopefully next time there will be more pre-event promotion and advertising.
Eurocup From the Balcony
Report from Hans Jansen op de Haar
Fort Mahon is a small, compact seaside town in the north of France, on the Channel coast, less than 100 km south of Calais, about 30 km north of Dieppe. It has a wide beach, half the time. I watched the Euro cup form beach, boulevard and balcony.
It wasn't the best of weekends for any -kite- event. The weather was hesitating between horrible and workable and not everything else was working out fine either. About 90 competitors would compete in two times five events, two lines individual, pair and teams, four lines individual and pairs, all both ballet and precision. Organisation was split, SIEC, the STACK international executive committee, was responsible for the actual competition, while the FFVL, the French federation of free flight, took care of field, equipment, line judges, (free) lodging, (free) meals, in short everything else. (the FFVL is a government recognised federation which deals with kite flying, parapente and delta flying in France, and doubles as STACK France. It also organised "Guadeloupe" and the World Cup in Dieppe. For two well known people, Alain Gilbert and Jean-Louis Ducret, it was the last event they organised ) All foreign competitors and the judges were lodged in a Disney like holiday village in the dunes between Fort Mahon and Quend plage.
Thursday was 'arrival' day, most competitors and officials (and interested bystanders) were welcomed in an office on the boulevard. Of course there was also the official opening, in the evening, in a big multipurpose hall, with the playing of the national hymns, speeches and the introduction of all who made it possible.
Friday morning, after the pilots meeting and a little pause the competition started with two lines team ballet. The precision field could not be used yet, since flood left a deeper than normal trench with water that first had to be filled. Wind was close to the 49 km/h maximum, and most teams struggled to complete their routines without mistakes. The French champions Overdrive lost points this way especially with a crash near the end of the routine. With music specially composed the routine looks seriously good, if completed (I watched them at the French championships). Lung Ta made no big mistakes, Air de Rien, who practice in Le Havre at high ground were very much used to this type of weather did neither. Garuda is not, but they flew their routine solidly. On the precision field the four lines individual competition had finally started, but the wind increased even more, and competition had to be stopped.
Saturday morning the weather showed no improvement over Friday afternoon, on the contrary. And the forecasts were not too good either. The Chief judge, Guillemette Chavant, one of the two STACK international head judges, had to leave very early. Replacing chief judge Helmut Georgi (his third job) postponed twice, and decided at noon competition would not go on for the rest of the day. Although supported by forecasts, deciding that long in advance is tricky in coastal regions. It was not very understandable for the public (who, thanks to the weather forecast, did not show up in really large numbers) that there was no competition in the afternoon. There was a wide beach, and after around half past one wind was down to about 35 km/h...Some people even flew kites. Some of the competitors were flying too, indoors, in the multipurpose hall, watched by fellow competitors and some public. Luckily, for all competitors, judges, officials and guests, the evening activity was weather-independent. In the swimming center in the holiday village a seriously big cold buffet was organised, as has become a well appreciated tradition at the bigger events. SIEC announced the selection procedure for Malaysia, and a Finnish group the next Euro cup in Finland. For me (and most others) meeting friends was the main activity that evening.
Sunday started as a difficult day for the organisers. Because as much of competition should be run as possible, the chief judge had asked to lay out three fields on the beach. Ballet field would be for pairs, both two lines and four lines, precision field for individual precision, for two lines and four lines too. This setup made it difficult though to see all competition! It also meant only three judges per field. Pair ballet was very interesting since the two English pairs (Evolver and Bi Dance) were competing against each other on two as well as four lines. Evolver lost first place in four lines because of small glitches and minor misunderstandings in a routine good enough to make even the smallest mistake stand out. Bi Dance did not make it to first place in the two lines not because their routine, in Skydance style of course, was not good, but the Evolver routine was a bit more daring and 'technical'. French pairs did not do bad at all, somewhat more relaxed flying from Pacavius and maybe a bit more concentrated flying from Pair de Rien would have them all closer to Bi Dance. It was impossible for me to see much of the precision flying. Guido told me just after the competition he was hoping to beat Carl one day not knowing he already had. He still has to watch the Robertshaws, though! French champion Jean Apostolides ended at a disappointing eighth' place, his ballet might have helped him to gain some places, but there was no time for that. Despite the three fields Carl Robertshaw managed to perform in four competitions (as individual and as 'half Evolver') ending individual two lines as Euro-cup holder! At one o'clock -half- the Euro cup was finished. Some judges, including the chief judge, had to catch a train or plane. And so even debriefing was waved away.
The competitors had to wait for the prize giving till about four. With the public (it had become a rather sunny afternoon) they could watch the competition for the Picardie cup, a single line competition combined with a two lines trick one, with a first price of 10.000 Ffr.
This was the first big sport kiting event I have watched as a "tourist" in twelve years. I had a kite and a notepad with me, but with good friends around it was not too hard getting used to. I hope the organisers in Finland will manage to have the next Euro Cup there, and can welcome competitors from all over Europe.
Hans Jansen op de Haar