The XIX European Aerobatic Championship took place at Matko Airport, Hungary, 90 Km. south of Budapest, from 23 - 30 August 2014. It was organized by the FAI, the Hungarian Aeronautical Association and the Hungarian Aerobatic Club.
A total of 36 pilots from 14 countries participated in the most extreme and demanding aerobatic competition of the year. The best Unlimited pilots of each country had the opportunity to show their aerobatic skills and their training results in front of the most prestigious aerobatic judges in the world. Nick Buckenham as a FAI contest chief judge and his team of judges were the responsible to assess more than 150 flights during the event.
In this edition the weather was pretty fare with only some few windy days therefore putting off some of the flights, but at the end, the four sequences were flown.
|Overall men's podium|
An international competition is thrilling in itself and betting for a winner an impossible accurate prediction because anything can happen. But we could say that this edition was one of the most challenging, thrilling and surprising international events in the last few years. The top three ranked pilots were battling and changing their performance technics flight after flight in order to try to get as much points as possible and have more chances to get the title. As usual, the competition flights started with the Known compulsory sequences and it took two days to finish the 36 flights.
Castor Fantoba (Su-26M), who took two years break with his teammates in international competitions, came back with plenty of energy and flew an excellent sequence obtaining the first place with the amazing score of 3614,97 (80,691%). The Russian pilot and former European Champion, Mikhail Mamistov (Su-26M) came in second place with a score of 3561,90 (79,507%). François Levot (Extra 330SC), the current World Champion, finished third with a score of 3523,73 (78,655%).
The Russian pilot defeated both Castor and François in the Free sequence with an average score of 82,352%. The French pilot got the same second place with a score of 81,409% and the Spanish pilot finished in the third place (81,313%).
The Free Unknown was the third flight, a very technical and physical sequence that put pilots’ skills and physical conditions to the limit. Le Vot obtained the best score and won the sequence (79,337%). Castor Fantoba followed the French pilot very closely with a sharp difference of 0,157% (79,180%). Mamistov, who changed the aircraft due to mechanical problems in his Sukhoi, finished third with a very good percentage (78,771%).
|Free Unknown 1|
The Free Unknown 2 was the last flight of the competition and it would decide the overall champion. The pressure of the top three pilots was at its highest level and any tiny error would reduce the options of becoming the champion. As expected, the three pilots were able to deal with such pressure and performed an incredible demonstration showing why they are the best. All three pilots obtained above 80% of precision in their flights. There was a minimum difference of 0,103% between the first, Le Vot (80,459%) and the third, Fantoba (80,359%). Mamistov finished second with 80,359%.
After computerizing the scores of all the flights, Castor Fantoba was proclaimed European Aerobatic Champion and he got the gold medal for the first time in his career with an overall score of 80,381%. Mikhail Mamistov won the silver medal with a percentage of 80,253% and François Le Vot obtained the bronze medal.
The scores of the three best pilots of each team generated the overall classification of teams.
France was proclaimed European’s best aerobatic team, obtaining the gold medal thanks to the scores of François Le Vot, Mikael Brageot and Alexandre Orlowski.
|Team results podium|
The Russian Federation got the silver medal with the scores of the highest performers, Mikhail Mamistov, Oleg Shpolianskii and Svetlana Kapanina.
Castor Fantoba, Juan Velarde and Anselmo Gamez won the bronze medal for the Spanish team.
Svetlana Kapanina was proclaimed the Women’s Aerobatic Champion after an excellent battle against Aude Lemordant and Elena Klimovich. Once the scores were tallied, Aude took the silver medal and Elena Klimovich, the bronze.
|Women's overall podium|
In the “smoke on” modality, Martin Sonka (Extra 330SC) won the 4 minute Freestyle after flying an incredible performance and getting the top score of 84,920%. Olivier Masurel (Extra 330SC) finished second and Alexandre Orlowski, got the bronze.
Snap&Roll had the opportunity to interview the winner of the championship, Castor Fantoba, and that is what he said:
|Castor Fantoba after one of his competition flights|
Castor for your first European title… What is your most memorable moment of the Championship?
For me, after my first unknown program flight. It was a really precise and solid flight. Then, Juan told me that Mikhail was going to fly with the Extra instead of his usual Sukhoi. They (the Russian Team) were having mechanical problems with the plane, and Mamistov decided to change. This meant that in order to gain performance with more power, he was going to risk precision. Very difficult to achieve. But he did it. What an impressive flight he did! Also, Francois flew a really good first unknown, so again, we were in the same situation as before, and with a final program to fly. Lots of stress, very good flights, competition outcome was undefined -anything could happen… And I was still ahead, with only a tiny advantage in points. All this made that moment very very special.
What was the atmosphere during the competition?
It was really good in terms of relationship with the other competitors. We received lots of congratulations from pilots, Teams and CIVA Officials for being back again and competing as a National Team. And, as to be expected, the competition was really intense, because due to minimal difference in points between Francois, Mikhail and me, every flight was like a "Final". I must admit that the stress reached "extreme" levels sometimes. Its where you really notice the power of a strong team, our team is incredibly close and support is absolute between all of us, its a great competitive advantage.
How did you prepare yourself for the European Championship?
This year the technical training schedule was in essence, very similar to last years: three training camps of some 10 days, and a short - but very intense - one in the run up to the EAC. With regard to physical preparation and training, I do my best with programme of weights and cardio when I am working abroad with the airline, and my trainer in Madrid makes the "final touches" to the overall progress, when I am home.
Who has been your biggest supporter? And your inspiration?
My biggest supporter is my wife, Alejandra. Without her, none of this could have happened. Equally, Nikolai Nikitiuk, our trainer, always confident and giving us the absolute best of himself, and my friends and team-mates: Juan and Anselmo. Success, in my experience is mostly thanks to teamwork, cooperation and constance.
Inspiration?. Well, Vytas is always there. When I received the big medal, my first thoughts were for him.
|Castor Fantoba taking off to fly his sequence|
How does it feel when your opponents are pushing so hard?
It is difficult to maintain concentration, stay focussed on the right things. You can loose lots of energy thinking about the possibilities, how to proceed, if you must change tactics, the variables, the "ifs" the "buts" the "maybe's". In this, Nikolai is of great help. He was always, clear and confident. After my Free program, I was really disappointed, because I was not flying strongly enough, and Mikhail and Francois' flights were superb. He came and said to me with a smile: "...you don't decide, the judges must score the flight first. Not so bad." And he was right, third position and still on the top of the classification, amazing!. This really helps.
As a member of the Spanish team, that won the bronze team medal, is there anything that you would like the readers to know?
Well, I would like to highlight the huge success of Juan and Anselmo at this Championship. Juan finished 8th in the Overall, which means that he is in the group of the top pilots. He flew very well, demonstrating that he is one of the best. The Judges are now going to be eagerly waiting to see his flights. With these results, Anselmo shouldered all the responsibility of getting a good score to get the Team the Bronze medal, and I can tell you that this is really really difficult. He was strongly penalized in the first flight due to being one of the first pilots flying, but his resilience, and mind-set to fight right the very end paid off. His last flight was really the flight that gave us the Team Bronze Medal, getting his best personal score ever in an international competition. What a way to finish!!
And of course, one of the main reasons for our very successful return to international competition, and as one of the strongest teams in the world, as proven by this championship, is Repsol, who has been supporting all the way, waiting for this moment, so my most sincere gratitude to them.
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Pictures thanks to EAC 2014.