What a week we had. Matt and I maintained our rankings and have placed first and second again at the Australian HAB Championships which were held during the first week of September. Northam, a small town in the Avon Valley, Western Australia, certainly turned it on again for us for the 2017 National championships following a great event in 2015. Having had a little shake out in Austria to remind us just what competition ballooning was all about I had been looking forward to getting into my own balloon for the week and back in the sky.
The field for this year was the strongest we have seen for many years (ie. the strongest I have ever seen!). As well as the national title, there were two spots for the 2018 World Championships in Austria up for grabs and a number of pilots who wanted them. I had already earned my place from my 2016 Women’s Worlds win so the pressure was off. Well, in theory ;-)
We flew 8 out of 10 slots with only 2 afternoons flights cancelled. The morning winds were quite swift so most flights were less than 90 minutes duration. So, shorter flights, but on the plus side it meant our turnaround times were fast and allowed for a nice long nap in the middle of the day.
Here is a little graph thanks to watchmefly.net that shows my scoring throughout the week. What is crazy is that I won 30% of the tasks for the whole week, more than any other pilot! However, that also shows that you don't necessarily have to be winning these tasks to win a competition and consistency is key.
As I mentioned in my quick update previously, I was frustrated by my inconsistencies in scoring and not keeping a nice constant average. This continued through the week my main problem was that I was getting myself into a good position but then not finishing off. We don't really get an opportunity to ‘practise’ at competitions, as we simply don't fly enough so when we are competing we are generally participating in a National or World championships. So for this week, given I already had my spot for the world championships, I decided to try a few different things with my flying, all with the goal to get a little lower in to the goals. Previously I have found I can get there, but have not been able to finish it off, this was the difference between a 4m score or a 1m score. I really want some of those sub 1m, scores! haha! This didn't quite work out for me…but I will carry on trying.
These are the scores for the top 5 placed pilots:
- SCAIFE, Matthew- 17 970
- SCAIFE, Nicola- 15 596
- KAVANAGH, Sean- 15 561
- ROBERTSON, Andrew- 14436
- WRIGHT, Peter- 14 076
Some highlights from the week:
- I loved the tight competition at the top. It’s fun to have a challenge and to be jostling rankings with a number of balloons. Besides Matt running away with the lead, there were 3-4 of us fighting it out for the 2 remaining podium places.
-Team work. Having people to work with and great teamwork adds so much enjoyment to the competition. Not only did ‘Team Scaife’ on the ground and in the air run really nicely this week, we also had radio communication throughout the comp with Andrew Robbo & Sean Kav (who came 4th & 3rd, funnily enough!). At the end of the day the best pilots will prove themselves with their flying skill, so why not share information and learn from each other, it’s only going to make the pilots and Aussie team stronger for the future.
-Seeing new faces and more participants. This event had 21 Australian pilots participating. At the same event two years ago (our last nationals) there were only 12. How great is that!? I hope that this trend continues as people don't put competition ballooning in the ‘too hard’ basket but see it as a fun challenge and a way to improve flying skills. It was also great to have some international pilots, from Russia, Japan and the UK come and join us, the more the merrier and I’m sure they enjoyed their week!
-The event. Australia is a little low on balloon events, with one or sometimes two if we’re really lucky! It is great to have an event of such a high standard being run in Australia and we can only hope that Northam will continue to bid for events in the future (maybe even a Women’s World Championships…? Wink wink?). The organising committee and actually, the community as a whole, clearly work very hard behind the scenes and it really shows.
Female pilots rock! Just saying.
I was 4 months pregnant while competing this year. I wanted to go all out, think ‘Serena Williams winning Wimbledon while pregnant’ style, but unfortunately Hubby was a bit too excellent this week. Ah well. It seems I’m carrying on a tradition as I competed at my first ever Nationals when Hugo was in my belly too.
That was a too short but sweet little competition ‘season’. I have another two months of commercial flying in the Hunter Valley and then have the summer off as I focus on growing a little baby. Somehow this new babe has been perfectly timed between competitions (!!) and I will start back again next year with a competition in Europe in July before heading to the Women’s World Championships in Poland in August, followed by the open worlds in Austria.