Friday, 19 April 2013

Artist F3F Re-visited

Well after the sad demise of my trusty Cyril last weekend, I had no choice but to dig out my old Artist F3F and prepare for this weekends race down in Wales. I have a Xenon (Ambrosia) F3F which will be my 'A' model, so the Artist will be my backup model again, just like back in the day when I first started racing back in 2011.

How things have changed, I used to fly the Artist bank and yank, then I learnt to fly reversal style. Now that I am learning EM style, it was time to find out how the Artist would fair.

The forecast wasn't brilliant with light winds forecast from the West, but I decided to risk it up Barbon although the lift isn't brilliant, its good practice for F3F in difficult conditions. I arrived at the bottom of the hill to dead calm and bright sunshine, I looked towards the Lake district to see the Windmills were a turning, so decided to stay and hike up the hill. With all the heather still dead from the long cold winter, I spied a new secret sheep path that went straight up the front rather than the normal long path that goes to the right hand side of the fell, so I managed to get up there in double quick time.

I was rewarded with 10 - 15 mph winds at the top, so I put in half ballast and chucked off, straight away it was apparent that there was a few degree's of South in the wind which always kills the lift despite the strong breeze. She's no Cyril and she struggled to pick up any speed or grip in the corners, so I landed and put full ballast in her (she doesn't take very much, about 840g).

The second flight was much better, with a few clicks of down trim she started to grip on the right hand base, back into wind and a fantastic EM sling shot off the left hand base. I started to get my confidence back after last weeks dumb thumbing the Cyril into the slope and started frightening myself with the Artist. Her roll rate is a little slower than the Cyril and she's not as settled, but as the thermals cycled through she picked up her heels and started blasting up and down the slope, she seems to suit EM quite well.

I landed for a rest and the local friendly paraglider showed up, so we started chatting and swapping stories before I got the third and final flight in for the day. With the wind dropping off as evening approached, the Artist will reward you if you fly carefully to maximise what lift is there and execute the turns well. You cannot pull the turns too hard though as she scrubs too much speed off, you have to let her find her own way around the turn. Finally the lift started to fail and I beat a hasty retreat to the upper landing area. I managed to catch a thermal to lift her high enough to go for a landing, no landing out on this rocky slope.

Heavily ballasted models are always difficult to land in light conditions, on the first attempt she sailed past me with full crow on with no signs of stopping, oh well with only 15ft of altitude left, I went around again and she disappeared over the top of the hill. Whoops, luckily she had landed herself perfectly and missed the occasional rock hidden in the grass as well, bonus!

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