C/L European Championships 2003
My personal view,
The championships were held in Rouille, France between 12-18 July, at a site with three hard circles and a decent size field for combat. The British combat team for this year was: myself, Graham Ives, Mervyn Jones, and Mike Whillance. Dave Riley and Pete Grange also came along, solely to pit, which I am sure was greatly appreciated by the entire team. They certainly worked very hard! John James was the assistant team manager, spending much of his time looking after the combat lads.
This was my first championship and so it was a little daunting, but the entire British team gave fantastic help and support!
I set off from home with my mum and dad, late Friday night. We arrived at Dover early Saturday morning and caught the ferry to Calais, then had a long drive through France, which wasn't a pleasant experience (no offence to our continental colleagues!). We got to Rouille early Saturday evening. Most of the team stayed in the same hotel, which was nice, but the rooms were a tad small. They did however have air conditioning, which was a definite plus, as most of the team were cooked at the end of each day, at a heat comparable to gas mark 6! I've never flown combat in such heat, and it was sweaty betty work just in the pits, never mind flying.
Sunday was processing and the opening ceremony. I was dreading processing, thinking that I might have forgotten something, but it actually went well, and the processing staff were helpful and friendly. Late Sunday evening, and the opening ceremony began. I had been told by most that, opening ceremonies were usually dull and long winded, but I and most people enjoyed it. The traditional march of the teams started in the middle of town and we were accompanied by a very energetic French band. It was still hot at that time and I fail to see how they kept going.... I suspect some kind of energy substance was used! The teams marched to the local football stadium and the champs were declared open and several people made speeches. We were then treated to a very impressive fireworks display accompanied by music. It was very good, but I can't help thinking the money they must have spent on it could have been used for better facilities at the site. Later that evening I found out the draw. I was to fly Johan Schwarz of Germany.
Monday dawned and I wasn't too nervous until my first bout drew near. Anyway, the time came, and I was offered much advice from the combat team, especially John James who was a great help. The bout started and everything was going well. I think I was 2 cuts up, maybe 3, then we had a nasty tangle and a collision. My model came down. Johan stayed up, and so I started to clear the tangle. The next thing I knew, the circle marshal had disqualified me, for letting go of the handle! He obviously hadn't noticed my downed model! I told him, he apologised immediately and declared a refly. The refly came and I was just as nervous as the first time, but I beat him, which was nice! Mervyn also won. Unfortunately, Graham and Mike lost.
In the next round the entire combat team had wins, and then everything went to pot in round 3! I lost, Graham lost, Mike lost, and Merv lost. ARSE! Graham and Mike were now out, and me and Merv had one life left. My next bout was a bit of an anti climax. I took all the streamer from Claude Bernard of France, came down in a collision (and Claude took my streamer in the collision), then had 2 bladders burst, which was a bit pants! I was really disappointed because even though I had taken all Claude's streamer in one, I was confident in my defending, and he didn't really get very near. But the gods of mid air collisions said "sod all that, though shall have thy streamer taken amidst a collision, and then though shall be grounded and be granted with 2 duff bladders!" I can still hear them laughing. Merv managed to win, but lost in his next round, and so the entire team were gone. Much beer was consumed later that evening and I was treated to some "interesting" stories of team escapades at previous champs. I shall say no more.
Andrius Rastenis of Lithuania won the combat final against Boris Faizov of Russia. I didn't see it, as I was fed up of the sun.
Anyway, my 2 wins managed to get me bronze junior placing, and although I still think I should have done better, the rest of the team seemed quite happy with how I flew.
Matthew Hart, the British speed junior won the gold junior medal. However, I think he might think again about winning in the future, after he was treated to the national anthem at the prize giving. The organisers couldn't find the tape, and so the Brits tried hard to sing it. Errm....... Let's just say it wasn't that successful. Poor lad! The speed team also won gold team prize.
For all their help and support I would like to give a special thanks to the entire British team, especially: Graham Ives, Mervyn Jones, Mike Whillance, Dave Riley, Pete Grange, John James and my mum and dad. Thanks guys!
Take a look at the photo's here!
This article was first published: 29/07/2003