The 2012 WHF World Championships, Saalburg, Germany.

added by Emma on September 16, 2012 at 14:33

 

Well, the 2012 Hovercraft World Championships have come to an end in Saalburg, Germany with a fantastic awards ceremony but it’s fair to say that on Friday, it looked questionable as to whether the event would even continue.

Following a horrific racing accident in Friday’s Formula Two race, German driver Michael Feulner was pronounced dead.  The shock waves it sent around the world were enormous and I have no doubt, will reverberate for a long time yet. Despite its high speeds and spectacular viewing, hovercraft racing is very safe in motorsport terms. Events are well run, well marshaled and there are well practiced procedures in place which are all geared to making participation as safe as possible. Michael, a 52 year old, very experienced driver from a family that has raced for many years was unbelievably unlucky and is the first driver to have lost their life as a result of a racing incident in the 40 year history of the sport.  It wouldn’t be overstating the case to say that the reaction from the hovercrafting community to Michael’s passing reminds me of the tragic loss of Ayrton Senna in 1994, albeit in a much smaller sport.  The German authourites immediately and thoroughly investigated the incident, response and procedures and found everything to be in order, for which the WHF and local organisers should be commended.   Racing was of course cancelled for the rest of the day.

Following discussions between Michaels family, organisers and drivers, it was decided to continue racing the following day and it was a subdued paddock that prepared to race on Saturday. Thankfully, there were no more accidents and some safe but exciting racing decided the World Champions for the next two years.

Overall then, a very sad but significant World Championship, which showed what a close community spirit exists within the sport. Thanks to Keith Oakley and the brothers Sweetman for providing live coverage of both the racing and the awards ceremony – it was fantastic to be able to watch the racing as it happened. Congratulations to the drivers who took away well earned trophies, and to everyone who kept going despite the awful events of Friday. Our thoughts of course, are with Michaels Friends and Family.

Final results and new World Champions.

Formula One : Michael Metzner – Germany.

Formula Two : Denis Ragot – France

Formula 50 : Fabien Santoulange – France

Formula S : Chris Barlow – England

Formula Junior : Lucas Hall – Sweden

Formula 35 : Janke Cooper – England.

Next stop for the racers is Claydon House, Buckinghamshire on the 29th/30th of September f or the last round of the UK National Championship.

Hovercrafting as a hobby…Where, What & Who!

added by Emma on September 11, 2012 at 05:54

 

As you can imagine, we get asked all sorts of questions from interested onlookers when we're using hovercraft or exhibiting at boat shows - they range from those that have absolutely no knowledge of hovercraft, for instance…

"Does it float if you stop on water?" is pretty common but my favourite was when I explained to a lady at the London Boat Show that hovercraft run on a cushion of air and she commented that it was very clever…"because most vehicles run on petrol…"

via the folks that tell you you're doing it wrong

"What it needs is wings like that Caspian Sea Monster." (Google it…!) to "That’s an extremely dangerous machine… it has no seat belts!" (Seriously, the guy advocates seat belts on motorbikes too!)

Anyway, the  recurring theme is that many potential hovercraft owners don't actually know what they'd do with a hovercraft.

 

Well, in the world of recreational hovercraft, there's two very clear options of what you can do with your machine!

 

Racing or Cruising

 

Racing events currently take place all round Europe with the strongest support in the UK, rounds of the National Hovercraft Championships taking place in every corner of England throughout the summer months. Anywhere from 30-50 hovercraft race in differing formulas from entry level low-cost 'F35' via fast 'control engine' formulas such as F503 up to the mighty 200bhp Formula One craft (figure 0-60mph in 4 seconds!)

 

Events are held in grassy fields with a pond or lake to make a course which covers both surfaces - races last around ten minutes and the craft are built light with limited flotation and freeboard and no concession to comfort! These craft (apart from some F35's) wouldn’t survive an outing on the sea as they'd be mis-firing in no time and couldn’t handle any chop at all. However, they are very fast and for a motorsport,  a relatively safe and inexpensive hobby. To be successful, you'll need a fair bit of knowledge to build, maintain and repair the craft and there's not too many places where you can buy a racing craft off the shelf.

 

Cruising is the side of the hobby for which Flying Fish supply hovercraft.  Craft are built stronger and heavier to deal with an uncontrolled environment and must - obviously - be able to float as well as a boat. Priorities are low noise, good fuel economy and performance and superb reliability. So, to answer the original question of 'where, when and who' the basic answer is...'just like a boat of the same size.' I've operated boats and hovers for many years and generally, I've found that a 3-4m hovercraft is capable of pretty much what a boat of equivalent size is. In the UK at least, hovercraft are catagorised as boats, so you're not restricted in areas where PWC's (Jetskis) are banned and there's very few places with any specific restrictions (notably Langstone Harbour.) Remember, you have a common law right of navigation on tidal waters, so drive sensibly and with consideration towards nature reserve's SSSI's and other water users and you'll find no more issues than a boat owner.

 

So, where do you use a recreational or cruising hovercraft?

Well, the best starting point is to join the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain at www.hovercraft.org.uk

The HCGB is the UK hovercraft club which arranges both race meetings and recreational events all over the country. Whilst there are other clubs, they tend to be predominantly for those that wish to build their own hovercraft from plans or kits - the great thing about the HCGB is that whilst it fully supports this, it's also a club focused on usinghovercraft, either for racing or cruising. The Hovercraft Club of Great Britain has been in existence pretty much since the hovercraft was invented by Christopher Cockerell and the 700 odd members have a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer. Throughout the summer of 2012, the HCGB has organised over a dozen events and covered hundreds of miles of cruising in the Thames, Medway, Solent and French Rivers.

It costs just £27.00/year to join and there's branches all around the country who  hold regular meetings or you can ask for advice on the club internet forum. You can contact the hovercraft club via the website or email membershipservices@hovercraft.org.uk. If your interest is in cruising, I've been asked by the HCGB to head up the recreational side of the club so you can contact me on russ(at)flyingfishhovercraft.co.uk and I'll be happy to tell you what's coming up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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