Friday 17 August 2018

A One Minute Guide to F3F

F3F is the Formula 1 of slope soaring! Or perhaps it's better described as a hill-climb event, since only one person is out at a time (and it does involve climbing hills!). Either way... it's a timed speed event which will test your trimming and flying skills to the max. 

Fortunately you don't need a Ferrari to compete - just a glider, a transmitter... and a desire to join in and improve your piloting skills through friendly competition. 

In this post, I'll describe briefly what you need to get going, safety checks, and how to enter.

F3F in action!

The rules

The rules of F3F are simple. After your model is launched (usually by a helper), you have 30 seconds to gain height. Your task is then to fly ten legs of a 100 meter course as fast as possible. Sounds simple.. but it's difficult to do well!

The ends of the course are marked by two bases. At each base, a 'buzzerman' buzzes you into the course, and each time you cross outside the base. 

Rounding a base. The buzzer man hits a button when you reach the base.

After finishing your run, your time is recorded. The fastest time in a round gains 1000 points, with other times scored pro-rata. Several rounds will be normally be flown, and the pilot with the highest aggregate score is the winner.

Sun powered!

Because conditions vary from run to run, you can still achieve respectable scores even if you're new to F3F. Part of the fun is chasing your own personal best. 

What equipment do I need?

Ideally you'll want an F3F mouldie, however if you're starting out a smaller 60" model will do fine depending on the slope and condition - just check with the organiser first.

There's no particular favoured brand of radio. If you have an OpenTX transmitter, you may wish to use my F3F template, available free.

At a recent English Open. Your model could be in there next time!

Preparing for a comp

Safety is paramount - and it starts in the workshop:

  • Check that the model is mechanically sound (linkages, servo mounting etc)
  • Check the servos for slop
  • Ensure that the transmitter will not require re-programming on the slope!
  • The receiver aerials should be installed to maximise signal strength. 
  • Ensure the batteries are in good shape and fully charged. 
  • Make sure the model is properly trimmed beforehand, with a known target CG.

In short, make sure that all the problems are sorted before you set off, so that you can fly safely and with full confidence in your kit.

Jean-Luc Foucher with own-design Pinguin and FrSky Q-X7


F3F events are typically run over one or two days. Locations include Sussex, S. Wales, Scotland, N. Yorks Moors and Shropshire so you're sure to find a competition within reach of an early start. There's a full list of events on the the GBSRA site.

F3F is not all just about the flying: Whitby harbour after the comp, 2017

Come along!

One things for sure - you'll learn more in a day of F3F than in a year of dodging foamies on your club slope! So why not come along to one of the events and have a blast?

Another run accomplished


Some useful links:

GBSRA - GB Slope Racing Association, with events calendar
BARCS forum - competition updates

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