Traditionally Ace of Base is the last aerobatic competition of the year. This year, as in 2015, it was held at Vereeniging. Although the weather was extremely hot, for a change it played ball and held until just after the prize giving when the clouds started building, heralding the start of a typical Highveld storm.
Seventeen entries were received, a number not seen since the last Nationals. The competition was fierce with most of the top aerobatics pilots present. Boding well for the future of the sport of aerobatics was the large number of upcoming younger entrants.
The safety briefing held in the Gem Aircraft hangar. Barrie Eeles welcomed all present and explained the rules and safety procedures.
The day's action started when Jonty Esser took to the sky in his Yak 52 in his first foray into sports aerobatics. From then on it was action all the way; with seventeen entrants each flying two sorties, time was of the essence. Whilst one competitor was flying his sequence another was taking off.
New competitors start at Graduate level and proceed in complexity through Sportsman, Intermediate and Advanced, with Unlimited being the top competition level. The categories vary by difficulty of the individual aerobatic manoeuvres they contain, as well as the combination of those manoeuvres within the sequence.
The format of Ace of Base differs from other aerobatic contest. Competitors compete for the title of "Ace of Base" with the winner based on the best percentage possible achieved. The format makes it possible for any entrant, irrespective of class entered, to win the coveted title.
The unenviable task of judging rested on the shoulders of Contest Chief Judge John Gaillard assisted by Quintin Hawthorne, Laszlo Liszkay, Mike Stark, Johnnie Smith and Bruce Clark. Natalie Stark again had the hot seat of Scoring Director.
After the scores were compiled the results were announced during the prize giving ceremony.
Nigel Hopkins in his Extra 330SC was one of three pilots that flew in the Unlimited Class. His 80.20% was enough to win the title of Ace of Base.
Elton Bondi flew his Extra 300 in the Advanced Class and finished in 2nd place with 76.08%
Breathing down Elton's neck in in 3rd place with 76.05% was Paul Coetser who flew the Goodyear Pitts Special in the Sportsman Class
Advanced Class participant Gary Glasson in his Pitts Falcon took 4th place with 74.93%
In 5th place, with 74.24 %, was Adam Pucjlowski who flew his Zlin 50 in the Intermediate Class
6th place went to Dennis Spence with 73.19% who flew his Goodyear Pitts Special in the Sportsman Class
Unlimited Class entrant Barrie Eeles in his Sbach finished in 7th place with 72.26%
Sportsman Class entrant Roger Deare in his Extra 300 was placed 8th with 70.39%
Ivan van der Schaar, with 69.19%, who competed in the Sportsman Class in a Pitts Special, finished in 9th place
In 10th place was Sportsman Class entrant Dustin Hughes in his Zlin 50 with 68.81%
The next competition, the SAC Judge's Trophy, will take place at Tzaneen on the 21 - 22 January. For more information contact Annie Boon e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org