Well if you hadn’t heard of, or be partly caught up in the hype surrounding mini quadcopter racing at some point in the last couple of months then you were probably taking an extended holiday on Planet X.
RotorCrossNZ was formed after the successful event held at Matamata alongside the MFNZ Nationals. Although the pilot numbers were down on those indicated, this was not the case at last weekend’s event at our own HMAC field with a huge show of interest of 20 plus pilots from around the central to upper North Island.
When you included support crew/friends/family and a good number of spectators, a good crowd and a long line of cars had formed. Light hearted comments could be heard from the crowd like…….”attack of the drones”……”we’ve been over run”….possibly thrown out there buy certain HMAC members…..aahheemm..
The racing was split into two classes. A spec class which places limits on motor size/kv rating (2204 / 2300kv), prop size (5″ max) and battery size (3cell / 11.1v) and an open class where anything goes.
Spec class had around 15 entries split into 3 heats and open class had around 6 entries with a single heat. Four rounds were flown on the day which consisted of 16 races lasting approx 3 min each. Heat sizes are limited to 5 or 6 pilots because that is the maximum amount of 5.8ghz video transmitters that we can get working together in the legal ISM band range before you start having issues with video overlap. The winner was the first to finish 5 laps and points allocated to the position in which you finished. If for any reason you didn’t finish the race ( 99% of the time this was a spectacular crash into the ground, course obstacle or flag ) then no points were allocated.
The course itself (which seemed to take an age and a half to set up) was roughly based on a figure of eight with a slalom, three fly unders and a fly over which was above the center fly under to separate the intersecting flight paths. This course was a step up in technicality compared to Matamata and although the consensus was that it was a well designed and challenging course, it proved to be a bit much for a portion of us FPV pilots that found it hard enough to complete a lap at pace let alone finish a whole race. Many races finished with only two craft left in the air however to be fair, this is the case for most fpv racing I have seen to date, because if the course is easier then pilots just fly even faster resulting in more carnage anyway. In essence, some of us, including myself, were just not good enough, whether by lack of preparation or lack of skill or a mixture of both.
However through all this carnage, I did manage to win the only race that I finished, ending in a spectacular wipeout into the finishing line flag and emptying the guts of my mini quad across the race course. Hey…a win is a win.
Many of the top placing pilots came from Auckland (there will be payback!!!) and the over all pilot placings and allocated points are listed below. Those pilots with good points on the board are keen to head down to next weekend’s race meeting in Levin. Pilots only need points from 3 meetings to go towards the National championships (early 2016) The idea is to do 4 meetings and pick the top 3 results. Going to more meetings means you can hen peck your top 3 results from a larger pool of not so good or better ones giving the dedicated traveling pilots an advantage.
Round 1 Hamilton 1st March 2015 Results
1st Stephan Knapp 100 Points
2nd Erwin Vendel 89 Points
3rd Ian Richarrdson 78 Points
4th Nathan Toia 67 Points
5th Equal Chris Jackson, Chris Dorling, Andrew Ferry 56 Points
8th Danny Steenhuisen 22 Points
9th Equal Rob Haskett, Gareth Evans, Christopher Maca, Ryan Haste, Alister Ritchie, Gary Hawkins, Mike Wilson 11 points
1st Equal Erwin Vendel and Stephan Knapp 100 points
3rd Chris Jackson 50 Points
4th Equal Stephen Domigan, Ian Richardson, Gary Hawkins, Ryan Haste 25 Points
A huge amount of thanks goes out to the club for letting the group hold the event at our field, but mostly to the guys that made it happen. Matthew Wellington, the driving force behind this series and also to Kim Clark who put down his goggles and transmitter for the day to help Mathew in the relentless heat, keeping up with
and counting laps of the tiny quads zooming around the course….heat after heat…round after round….entering data into the laptop and spitting out the pilot order for the next round and any frequency changes needed….Kim pushing pilots to be ready for their next heat, checking and sorting video issues and being ready to start 5 min after the previous heat. All this demanded constant work from Matt and Kim. A huge amount of thanks goes to them for this and they did an excellent job of handling the complexities of this new type of event.
What this means though is that all pilots at some point are going to have to help in lap counting and recording though. It is too much for the same guys to be doing this every meeting, nor should they be expected to. In the future, things may possibly get easier if some kind of medium range RFID tagging system is invented/made affordable for automated lap counting.
All in all I think this was a hugely successful event and when you compare the size of the meeting to the one at Matamata, it has quadrupled in size already. One can only imagine how big this could get. But with size will also come the added complexity of running this kind of event. There seems to be a loose kind of international standard that clubs seem to be adopting and I see this being built upon hopefully to a point where all the lap counting, point scoring and pilot rostering can be automated. This will make this kind of event much more enjoyable for everyone involved. Especially the organisers…Thanks guys.