The SAPFA Secunda Speed Rally - 12 September 2020

By Rob Jonkers. Photos by Rob and Willie Bodenstein

A group photo of the participants, orginisers and officials.

This year we returned to the birth place of the Speed Rally, this being the 3rd time that this event has been held here and its appropriate that our Speed Rally event during these unprecedented times has come back to its roots, with 8 months having passed from the last one held in Witbank. Although this would have been the season finale, SAPFA had decided to extend this 2nd season up to the end of the year to also include Springs, which will be held on the 28th November. We will then at least have had 3 events in 2020 and can start afresh with a new season in 2021.

The Speed Rally Trophies are without a doubt the best that we have ever seen at aviation events.

Once after lockdown level 3 we wwas announced, we were granted the means to hold events, planning started for Secunda, with competitors having snapped up the open spots of 23 teams within days, given the popularity of this event. At least under Level 2 Covid guidelines, overnighting could also be done, with arrivals and test flights on Friday the 11th, as well as the extended briefing on steroids with the race number handouts.

Saturday morning at Secunda Flying Club

Our host club with Chairman Johan van Niekerk went all out to support the event, making arrangements for food on site, contacts for accommodation, and the use of club facilities. Arrivals started coming in from just before midday with flight tests commencing in good conditions under the guidance of Mark Clulow and Sean Cronin. The wind however started to pick up with gusty conditions, which at least settled down in the late afternoon.

Aircraft moving into starting positions.

At 18h30, Jonty Esser as the MC introduced Rob Jonkers, who took to the stage and provided a briefing on what to expect for the next day in terms of the planned route, how many turnpoints, distance, departure and arrivals protocol. He also elaborated on how the scoring system would world work and the expected weather conditions.

An impromptu briefing Saturday morning.

ATC Rouvierre Roux had his brother Rousseau to keep him company.

Mary de Klerk proudly displaying her Pilot's Post T-shirt.

Jonty Esser then took to the stage in his signature competing crew introductory theme song, videos and race number handouts, and also included introductions to the event and team sponsors, which has unfortunately reduced over this last period, but was great to see that some sponsors were able to maintain their support for their teams. A scrumptious braai was laid on by the club to end the evening with around the fire stories on a high note.

The Author and Jonty Esser at Saturday's pre-race briefing

On Saturday, the briefing started at 8h30, which was a shortened version just to cover the basics of the route, radio procedures and weather, which turned out to be pristine conditions with very little wind.

Mark & Shane from Century Avionics were on hand to also block off / seal Aircraft GPS and autopilot systems

Teams plotting prior to taking off.

With the briefing over, teams prepared their aircraft, while the organisers got the papers ready. Each team would then receive an envelope with a map,, turnpoint photos, a minute marker and a GPS logger to record their track. Aircraft were then also scrutineered with all portable electronic devices sealed up in bags. For this event, Mark & Shane from Century Avionics were on hand to also block off / seal Aircraft GPS and autopilot systems.

More teams plotting prior to taking off.

We've got friends flying together, husband and wife and father and son teams and on Saturday we had another speed rally first, Jan Hanekom and grandson Rikus participating.

Scrutineers Chareen, Lizelle and Sean were on hand to seal up all portable GPS capable devices, handing out papers at the allotted time and also ensuriing that fuel tanks were full. Chief Marshall Adrian Cronje and Starter Mark Clulow set up at the starting line adjacent the threshold of Runway 29, who would release each aircraft at their allotted time slot. Each team then received their envelopes with their loggers at 20 minutes prior take-off time, taxi to the starting line within 10 minutes of brake release. 1st take-off was at 10h10 for the slowest aircraft and last take-off at 10h40, with a planned arrival at 11h30.

Saturday morning and the race is on.

Some of the competing aircraft taking off.

With all the competitors off towards the north west, the route had a mix of easy and challenging turn points. In general, the competitors found the course easy enough this time round, with the photographs now in larger format to identify the ground features more prominently, which can be seen in the results where many had a clear round in their tracks. At just before 11h30, the first aircraft over the line was a little early and was then followed by at least three quarters of the field within 1 minute, with tail enders after that.

Proof that the handicap system works.

Some participants returning.

After all teams having returned, the scoring team got to work to analyse the results, completing the individual scores by 13:30, with prize giving at 14:00. MC Jonty Esser thanked everybody in the Speed Rally series for their contributions which was followed by Rob Jonkers showing some interesting tracks for the day.

Trophies were handed out to firstly the host club for hosting the event, their club house now sporting 3 of these trophies. The most interesting track flown was awarded to Rob Osner and Hilton Wolff and the best crew spirit going to Lourence Matthee and Christo Erasmus.

1st place

2nd place

3rd place

The winners in the handicap category were father and son Hendrik & Jandre Loots in their Sling ZU-IHK. Second place went to Eugene van Staden & Manaf Mubarak in their Sling ZU-IBH and in third place Leon Joubert & Sandi Goddard in their Lancair ZU-LNC. The first thirteen placings were the only crews who managed a clean penalty free round.

1st Place

2nd place

3rd place

The winners in the accuracy category were again father and son Hendrik & Jandre Loots in their Sling ZU-IHK. Father and son Johan Whiteman & Quintin Kruger in their Cherokee 235 ZS-FVV bagged second and in third place Phil Wakeley & Mary de Klerk in their C210 ZS-CNY.

All the winners

Many thanks to the Secunda Aero Club for hosting this fantastic event, the SAPFA team of Adrian Cronje as the Chief Marshall, Nigel Musgrave as the Safety Officer, Dirk de Vos doing the scoring, Mark Clulow & Sean Cronin doing test flights and starting, Marc & Shane for Century Avionics for Scrutineering, Chareen Shillaw, Lizelle Kruger for handing out competition papers to the crews as well as Scrutineering, Jonty & Lizelle & Sandy for putting together an awesome Friday evening launch event and also the ATNS team for managing the ATC for the weekend.

ZS-CNY - third in the accuracy results.

One of the tracks having gone a little pear shaped.


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