British Air Racing Championship Season Summary 2023
Cliff Hawkins in his Cessna 180 lines up next to John Kelsall and his navigator Ian Scarbrough in their AA5-A
We’ve had a fine season of racing with only one weekend cancelled owing to weather.
The first event of the year was our free to attend Race School hosted at Popham Airfield in April.
Race School set us up nicely for our first racing weekend at the super friendly Sherburn in Elmet in May. The Saturday race saw hot favourite, three times British Air Racing champion Jonathan Willis in his RV-6 paired with Jon Hunt aka The Flying Reporter. Jon (who is a thoroughly nice guy as well as first class race navigator) was navigating for Jonathan to provide material for a documentary. However, the race winner was Martin Gosling in his beautifully flown Robin DR400, second place went to Dave Moorman in his CAP10 and Jonathan Willis with Jon Hunt came third.
The Ginger Lacey trophy was the prize for Sunday’s race. First over the line was Dave Moorman, second Gavin Connolly in his RV-4 and third was Bob Johnson in his Stolp Starduster. Martin Gosling was disqualified for crossing the finish line on the wrong side of the windsock. Oh Martin! In your seventy plus years, have you still not worked out your left from your right? Jonathan Willis and his new navigator Daria Bonanno were disqualified for missing scatter point three which was a sewage works. Jonathan who’d got it right the previous day had picked the wrong sewage works. Jonathan! You should’ve gone to Specsavers!
June saw the British Air Racing Championship move to the stylish airfield Leeds East. Victorious in Saturday’s race was Dave Moorman who was closely followed by Bob Johnson and then Gavin Connolly in third. The no longer hot favourite Jonathan Willis had been knocked out by a technical problem that developed after his arrival and so he jumped into Bill Leary’s classic PA28-140 to navigate for him.
Sundays’ victor was yet again Dave Moorman! Dave’s style of keeping super low to maximise his acceleration until the very end of the runway before popping up to steer for the first turn point appeared to be putting him in good stead. It is said that in a previous life, he was a U-boat commander. Gavin Connolly rocked into second and taking the bronze in their Grumman Cheetah were John Kelsall and his navigator Ian Scarbrough.
Dave Moorman demonstrating his “keep it low and accelerate quick” technique at the beginning of a race
Rain, rain and more rain summarised the next race weekend in July. This was to be run at Fishburn but alas, it was cancelled owing to the weather. This was a great shame especially for Craig McCleod who had gone to great lengths to organise it. It was also the only race he could make which was a double shame because he is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with in his Christen Eagle and Cessna 210. Despite the cancelled race, competitors, officials and social members barged past Noah’s Ark on the A177 in their four wheeled chariots to a village near Fishburn for a social evening not to be forgotten!
The championship was hotting up with Dave Moorman clearly becoming the man to beat and August meant the King’s Cup! Aviators have been competing for this cup for over 100 years! Sherburn In Elmet was once again host to the races. Saturday’s Stewards Cup was won by Martin Gosling, in second place was Jonathan Willis and in third Dave Moorman. Sunday’s King’s cup was won by Jonathan Willis, second place went to John Kelsall and Ian Scarbrough and in third was Martin Gosling.
August also saw the Royal Aero Club Records, Racing and Rally Association (who run the British Air Racing Championship) organise their first FlyBall Navex competition. Alas, despite a great amount of interest from both aviators and airfields, poor weather on the day greatly reduced the number of entrants. The winners of the multicrew category were Nicholas Rogers and Gemma Hodgson in a C172 and the winner of the solo category was Martin Gosling.
The last race of the season took the British Air Racing Championship to Sandown for the equally prestigious Schneider trophy. This together with Saturday’s Merlin trophy was to be raced in the fairly new time trial format. This format allows only one aircraft at a time on the race course and this was to be over the Solent. On Saturday it was the talented Ian Harding in his RV-7 who claimed victory with his navigator Roger Scholes. Second place went to Jonathan Willis and third to Dave Moorman.
In Sunday’s race with every competitor secretly visualising themselves in the cockpit of a Supermarine S.6B, they set to work flying as efficiently and as quickly as possible between and around turn points. When the results came out, Jonathan Willis quickly wished he hadn’t told Bob Johnson to tighten up his turns, as it appears that he’d listened and had pipped Jonathan into first place earning him the Schneider trophy. After Jonathan’s second place came Martin Gosling in third. Richard Parris, a new racer, did very well to earn fourth place on Saturday and fifth place on Sunday. The participant of greatest merit had to be the charming Gabriel Gomila Frau in his Jodel D1050. This long-term racer had flown up from Majorca. He was disqualified in Saturday’s race for excessive gate entry speed and cutting a turn point and then had to withdraw from Sunday’s race owing to a technical problem. Sometimes things just don’t go your way!
The Schneider Trophy time trial course sees Richard Parris in his RV-7 crossing the finish line abeam Ryde pier just as Jonathan Willis in his RV-6 positions his aircraft to enter the course. In this snap shot, Jonathan has yet to accelerate to his maximum allowable gate entry speed of 168kts. This speed is derived from each aircraft’s handicap.
What a fantastic season 2023 has been. The full list of awards for this season can be seen below. However, the winners of the main three categories are:
The British Air Racing Champion (Jubilee Cup) 2023: Dave Moorman
British Air Racing Navigators Champion (The Gaelic Hunter) 2023: Ian Scarbrough
(Minimum) Excess distance trophy 2023: Martin Gosling
Congratulation to them all.
The next free to attend Race Scool is being held at Popham on the 20th and 21st April 2024. For more info, see https://www.britishairracing.org/post/become-a-race-pilot