Drone Worlds 2016 - The Journey

Firstly I’d like to apologise to those in advance who were maybe looking for a shorter post with lots of nice pictures :) there will be a ton of pictures but it’s probably also going to be quite a long post! I’ll be doing the main event posts in reverse order of date, so this will be the first post, followed by the ERSA Euro Cup, and finally the British Championships hosted just before that. If time had allowed the other two posts would already have been written up for you guys to read, but with the events being so close to each other it was just not possible without neglecting other key things I needed for the next events.

Way back when

Around a year ago when Drone Worlds was announced it sounded like a bit of a pipe dream - drone racing as a whole was really in its infancy with small events starting to appear up and down the UK. For me it had begun a few months before as myself and a group of friends started looking at the environment differently and trying to create simple courses from the natural obstacles we were flying around - we had no gates or timing systems but knew that we wanted more than freestyle could offer. We started flying in car parks which provided simple but strict layouts for us to fly around, and was the turning point for me to entertain the idea of going to an event and competing properly. By this point the UK Nationals had already taken place and I’d missed it; when it was announced all of the qualifying events had already happened - it was done in a bit of a rush to tie in with the UK’s largest RC Model flying event, and also to become the center stage of drone racing as it was the first qualifying event for Drone Worlds. A little frustrated with not being able to make it I immediately signed up for the next available event - FormulaFPV. This was the first big event for me, 36 pilots who at this point were all new faces to me, with gates, a timing system prizes and all the stuff we’d now expect as a minimum from a race event. This event truly kicked off the racing buzz for me, after obtaining a good position and relighting that competitive spirit into something I could do with ease (quad racing isn’t really that expensive and it has plenty of places to practice unlike other racing sports).

Back in Queens Cup

Anyway, sorry that was almost a bit of a history lesson - for me the thought of being able to compete was really non-existent - we knew already that 3 of the 5 places available to the UK had already been taken and with only 2 places remaining at an event to be held in the future the likelihood of being able to compete was low. Fast-forward through a whole ton of racing events, practice and everything in between we move focus to Queen’s Cup - where I’d managed to do just that - gain one of the two places remaining to enter. For me, it is still the pinnacle moment so far of my ‘drone racing career’ if you will - it has been my most consistent and most rewarding event so far. So with that in mind I’d now scooped up one of the remaining places, with Gary taking the other.

FuriousFPV

After a few weeks it soon dawned on me that actually being able to afford to compete in Hawaii was looking unlikely. I’d also qualified for the European Championships in Ibiza which was much more attainable budget-wise, especially when considering bringing my fiancé, Becky. With that in mind a few months prior to now I’d started to have communications with various companies who were offering sponsorship of various levels, none of which really suited what I wanted to achieve or were the right kind of deal that benefited both parties. That was until I was contacted by FuriousFPV to become a Factory Pilot (fly using their components and represent their brand at events for doing so), which included Hawaii as part of the deal. For me, it was really the ultimate sponsorship deal I’d ever seen. FuriousFPV are a new company that are really taking the FPV community by storm and have already come out with some truly innovative products, with no doubt plenty more to come as they expand into the drone racing market. Being able to be a part of that (including testing and development of new products in order to further drone racing) was really a no-brainer, even ignoring the proposal of covering Hawaii. So there it was, in one foul swoop I’d obtained a great new sponsor that believes in me, and found the ability to compete in Worlds! As I say, from hearing about the event around a year ago it really just seemed unattainable as everything including myself were so new to it, but I’d somehow made it!

Pre-Worlds

Flights and accommodation were booked from the 14th of October right up until a day after the competition on the 23rd of October, meaning we had a ton of time before the main competition to check final quad preparations, go fly in some awesome locations and if interested spectate the Aloha Cup - the final qualifying event for Worlds to be held at the same location for pilots who had not qualified already.

Long flights ahead

The travelling to get to Worlds was a long and exhausting one - 3 hours in the car to the airport for a 12 hour flight to LAX (from Heathrow), followed by a 6 hour connecting flight to Honolulu. Around a day later with all travelling aside I’d made it - with an 11 hour time difference compared to back home in the UK it was a bit of a shock to the body. Due to not sleeping on the plane the first night was relatively easy to break into. For the first few nights I stayed at the designated accommodation for the pilots - Ala Moana hotel. Being based in Honolulu it was a good 40 minute drive to Kualoa Ranch situated on the other side of the Island which seemed like a weird choice - but Honolulu really just had everything you wanted as a tourist area and I think that’s why it was chosen. Lucky for us it also had some great flying locations too with some public parks just minutes away where I spent the first few days. We had a group chat on Facebook Messenger which had nearly all of the pilots involved - something very useful to organise meetups and generally see what people had planned to do in their spare time. Despite getting to the hotel around midnight and running on empty (in terms of energy) I still made it my priority to get as many lipos charged as I could with a few of us agreeing to meet up the following morning for some flying in a park just 5 minute walk from the hotel.

Aloha

We were blessed by the sheer support of some of the local pilots who had invested a ton of time in creating a Google Maps overlay that featured a list of around 20-30 flying spots all over the Island that were deemed as both safe and local-friendly. It really is worth emphasizing how friendly these guys were (Jamie, Honorio and everyone else I haven’t mentioned but truly appreciate), they were doing everything they possibly could from volunteering as event staff to creating a Google Maps map with all possible flying locations and hosting meetups at these locations including picking up and dropping off people who had no transport or who could not afford to go. I’m sure I can without a doubt say that not a single pilot will forget their generosity and hospitality while we were on their island, and they’re also epic pilots too. I guess I should never say never considering how far I’ve come in the past year but I really hope we get to show these guys how we do an event in the UK, or at least meet up in the future at some other event elsewhere because I’d love to get to fly with them again and catch up.

‘Open Practice’

Feeling pretty refreshed despite only getting 6 hours sleep I was up and ready to go! Hawaii seems to only get around 11 and a half hours of daylight (around 6.45am - 6.30pm) so I had been woken up by forgetting to close the curtains (oops) and the great sunrise. After breakfast I packed up all my gear and walked down to the field where I was greeted by Honorio, Shaun Taylor and some of Team Australia. It was great to meet Shaun Taylor, I’ve been following his progress for a while now and have been witnessing his sheer speed on some of the US event livestreams and listening to his podcast on QuadTalkPodcast. He’s such a great spirited and humble person, and he was extremely welcoming to meet other UK pilots having competed against Luke and Gary in various international events over the past couple of months. I also got to meet Teng, Shauns partner in crime in the drone racing scene, who is also really nice but also super fast...! More on that further on.. :)

Ala Moana Park

We had a nice open field with a ton of trees (palm trees and others), and naturally we decided to create a course from it. For me it was a good chance to see if I could get my quads anymore tuned. Since changing parts just a day before British Championships, if you have read my previous blogs (I know I know, this is the first of them out so maybe you can't yet) you’ll know I had some pretty bad oscillations (at weird points in the throttle range) that I didn’t get time to tune out before competing in British Championships and the European Championships which arguably cost me some places in both events. As soon as I took the first quad up in the air on the first pack the oscillations came back to haunt me - but in this location they were even worse! Out came the laptop to start doing some more PID tuning to remove these oscillations, I knew I had 4 or 5 days before the main event to get my quads in order and in a flyable condition so I could show the rest of the world what the UK had to offer. I was the only pilot competing in Worlds, and while not the fastest compared to Luke or Gary, have been consistently featuring in the top 6 in our UK events. Fast forward a few hours later with much frustration and getting nowhere I moved onto just having a bit of fun with my AstroX X5 I’d brought along purely for freestyle. Weirdly what I was normally used to doing with PID tuning to make the quad fly well was not working, in fact I’d gone around in circles across 3 of the 4 identical quads I had brought with me and so far only made things worse! By the end of the day I'd gotten absolutely nowhere with it, so we went to the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk just next to the hotel and got some great food. Featuring over 30 different food kiosks the choice is endless, what a cool little place (little is by far the biggest understatement in this post, it had seating for 900 people)!

Ala Moana

After two days of going down to the same park and trying stuff in between (changing FC and mounting with foam tape to soft-mount it), I found myself in the same predicament. I got speaking to Preston and Kalyn of Raceflight who was more than willing to help, so we spent the third day at his accommodation getting some Revo's put back into the quads and on Raceflight firmware. We noticed similar issues test-flying and viewing the flight via the Blackbox recording and found some very weird yaw jitters. After a quick diagnosis we found lots of loose arm bolts meaning you could physically move the arms sideways due to the play in the screw holes. Sadly after playing around a little more and tightening said bolts we still had the same issue, but it felt a little better with some of the filtering and pids adjusted to suit.

Raceflight HQ

On the last spare day before the racing was due to start it was much of the same - further testing and adjustments to see if we could sort out the issues and get some quads flying properly. We were still seeing the same weird oscillations not just on yaw but on other axes also, luckily for me a special super secret batch of Revolts were due to be delivered to their apartments that day, and around 30 mins after arriving they were here! We installed one into one of the Shrikes and got back to testing, it seemed to have the same sort of issues but after a bit of tuning the oscillations were greatly reduced. Again the test area was even windier today and quite small so I couldn't test that much but it felt like I could race it at least, much of an improvement on how it was before. Whether it was the gyro itself or 32khz, I had then witnessed myself what kind of differences you can still get out of a flight controller - bearing in mind I was getting the issues on FCs with the MPU6000 so we knew it was pretty bad!

Aloha Cup

The following day we decided to go and checkout Kualoa Ranch on the first opening day of the event - part of the Aloha Cup. This was a two day competition that featured the last chance to qualify for the World Championships. Shaun Taylor and Minchan were just two of the many familiar names in the lineup competing for the 10 places up for grabs. We all knew this mini competition would be a good one to watch purely because of the competitors involved.

The entrance to the event

The event was ran well and everything went smoothly, with the racing finishing well within the time limit. One thing that shocked probably all of the racers here was that Minchan had not managed to make it through as a finalist in the Top 10 due to crashing out in both of his key races in Double Eliminations. He had not qualified elsewhere in the world despite making appearances in many international events so for him his racing was over. He was in the team racing but didn't get to show his stuff in the individual.

Minchan

Aside from that shocking result we had some key pilots who made it through and were now ready for the individual racing such as Shaun Taylor, Bapu Madhu, Cain Madere, Chris Garza, Johnny Schaer and Brian Morris. The individual racing was now hotting up with even more big names being entered into it, the next day was going to be a fun one!

Day 1

Individual Racing

So with no luck on fixing my quad issues I entered into Day 1 of the official competition with some very interestingly flying quads. At this point it was all I had so I just had to go with it. Preston had said if I still got issues then I could break down one of his Orca's that he brought with him to build up as at that point we thought it was an issue with the frame itself. I did have an issue with the Aluminium hardware on the Shrike stretching, to the point where the arms could be moved with your pinky finger! Sadly, that was not the only issue and all of the oscillations persisted.

In the morning we went through the safety briefing and we got a long walk of the track, this did take around an hour I must admit where rules were formed on the spot about sections of the course such as the power loop. Having dealt with it in Ibiza we pointed out that very specific rules had to be made in order for it to work properly, and in this case they opted to do so; you must fly OVER the bamboo or it counts as a missed gate, and you must redo it. A much better solution than Ibiza, which was not strict enough in its ruling of the new race track item. After the track walk we were informed that the second, much smaller track, would be open and we were split into groups with half doing one track, and half doing the other. The plan to switch tracks for each group on the following day, giving both groups equal qualifying runs on each track that would be used to seed our individual times.

This track was much better in my opinion - smaller, tighter and with more turns. It missed some of the fancier items we commonly see on tracks nowadays but it was better than nothing. I was looking forward to seeing what sort of times I could put down on this track - being based in the UK this is a relatively normal size track and had relatively 'easy' gates that only really existed in straight lines, there was not really any tough corner gates or Split S sections. This was my time to shine and get a good place on the leaderboards. I was in group 5 which took around two hours to run through before I got to fly due to technical issues in setting up the hardware as this was not setup beforehand.

As you can see, a bit of a painful start to the competition - a poorly flying quad and then I got taken out anyway! I'm not sure where the guy was planning to go, but it looks like he had also missed the gate and was possibly just taking it from a weird direction. My first lap was pretty rough, but I was starting to get into the flow of it, picking up the pace towards the end of the lap.

With a few hours passed of waiting around to fly again we'd gone down to the other track to see what was going on as the last few rounds of our group were taking ages to run it was pointless standing around waiting to be called. We saw that the group on the main track were already on their third battery pack! A little worried about the situation I came back up to our smaller race track to see that they were still on the same group still and were suffering with giant technical issues. Around an hour later it was discussed with the pilots that this track was going to close and not be counted into the competition due various issues, which included timing system issues. There were a few other issues such as the track being far too close to the cars and spectators on the very starting corner, which posed a threat to safety as many were running it wide after their first lap. Despite adding a flag on the corner and telling participants that MUST on the inside of it, people continued to overshoot the corner.

By this point Group A on the main track had finished 3 rounds of qualifying and got told they can go enjoy the rest of the day (it was around 3pm), while we were to transfer back over to the main track to get 1 or 2 rounds of qualifying in. With that in mind we moved back to the main track to get a heat in before it got dark and here is my race:

As you can see my first run looked to be pretty good pace-wise, I'd not really made any mistakes on the part of the course that I had managed to complete. It's still a little confusing to work out what happened but watching the footage over as many times as possible it looks like there is a stationary quad sat just after the gate, and I simply hit it.

Flying quads

So, for me, a very frustrating first day. I didn't get too much flying in, and of that flying I did get to do I had collisions. Regardless of whose fault it is, collisions are a very real thing in quad racing so I don't blame the pilots or myself it's just one of those things. I knew that Day 2 HAD to improve in order to get some times on the leaderboard, I was already at a major disadvantage with my quads flying as badly as they were. I could cope with the oscillations, my worry was really the amount of power these oscillations were drawing from my packs. We already knew the track was huge so I needed to scrape together and keep as much of that power as I could in my lipo just to make it around the track.

Later that evening we went back to the hotel where I tried yet further changes and unfortunately got nowhere with it.

Day 2

Day 2 started bright and early for me as I was up building a whole new quad as a backup just in case I could not find any more solutions - a TSX200 built with some spares I had brought with me. Being up at early o'clock meant I'd made an amateur mistake which included forgetting to solder two of the ESCs backwards due to the PDB pads reversing - this made some nice molten XT60 connector which burnt holes in my shorts. A little while longer spent replacing the XT60 on the quad and the lipo and I was ready to go again, with a backup backup quad for my backups. This was becoming a common and tiring aspect of the adventure here so far.

TSX200 built in the early hours of the morning

With day 2 starting we got there relatively early as we were first on the track again after the first group got to race in the morning the day before it was deemed fair that we got the same racing conditions. This side of the island had its' own micro-climate - the wind constantly blew inland covering us in short but heavy showers, and I know for a fact we had got through 4 of the Team Blacksheep timing systems because of it! This meant throughout the day it was constantly windy (seemingly worse during the afternoon), so to get the morning for flying was perfect as it should help remove some of the oscillations at least.

Our base for the day

I made some risky decisions as soon as we arrived at the Ranch and switched to the 1.8mm camera lens that Shaun and Zach had given me. I also switched out to the Racekraft 5051 propellers as so many people were using them with success, but the notable thing about them was they seemed to fly buttery smooth, so it was worth a shot to change them in the hope it would also fix my issues.. With a quick break in the schedule I had around 10 seconds to FPV test my quad and somehow the quad was pretty much fixed! It could have done with a tiny bit of tuning to remove any final oscillations, but let's not push it here - I had a working quad! After a discussion with Zhong Zhong later on (owner of HQProp) he had informed me that there was an issue with the new prototype propellers I was using, which seemed to match up with what I had been experiencing. He had handed me some new sets of propellers rumoured to have fixed the issues but I just couldn't change them. He was my sponsor, he has supported me for over a year now, but I just couldn't risk changing the setup without any testing and so I stuck with the Racekraft props (thank you again Scot) - sorry Zhong!

Scot Phan of Racekraft

With that in mind I went into this run hoping to bank a few laps so I could then push it on my final run. We were told that we would get 5 or 6 qualification runs PER TRACK, so it seemed feasible that we would still get a decent number, but thinking about how much time we had left I knew we realistically will only get 3 runs - so after this I only had one run left to make it into the top 32 if I could bank some laps on this one.

On this run I was planning to just bank the laps but sadly on the last lap we had a huge downpour that resulted in the racing being restarted. I was a little gutted as I didn't have far to go and my lap times were looking ok but it also meant I could increase my camera angle a little more and go for some faster runs now I had got some free track practice.

So despite crashing at the very end of my last lap, I'd managed to land upright and even in the long grass I took off again! My 3 lap goal was complete, and I could focus on just going all out in the next run, hoping to achieve some sort of OK position. Looking at the leaderboards my "safe" laps were around 40 seconds, relatively far off from the pace Shaun Taylor had set on the previous day of around 30 seconds, but I knew I could easily make up some time in tons of places to shave off those seconds. So it comes down to one final qualification run - I had to do well here or I am out, out of the competition and that would be a huge disappointment. With that in mind we got into our third qualification run:

Plagued by the rain again it had unfortunately cost me 2 of the three laps, and the third lap suffered huge voltage loss on the last corner leading to a DNF. The two laps were certainly not enough to get through as I was ranked around 22 in this group, but I knew that we had all the other pilots in the other group. Plus, there seemed to be faster pilots in the other group too - for me that was it! We could only hope that the rest of our team had put in some OK laps too so that we'd qualify for the team racing. I knew that Matt Brimfield had suffered similar issues to me and had not actually managed to complete a single lap after having huge video issues, so at that point it was looking unlikely that we'd fly any more in the competition at all!

Day 3

Despite no longer being in the competition I knew that today would have some great racing to spectate. Fast forward through the double elimination bracket stages of racing as it's really impossible to cover it all, but we had some awesome competitors making it through to the finals. Some of them made it all the way up the brackets in double eliminations which was great to see. We haven't ran any double-elimination style tournaments in the UK yet due to the extra time it takes compared to single elimination but watching it work is great and I will be pushing to get this kind of tournament format established as it works much better and gives pilots who are unlucky a second chance.

In the finals we had a good range of countries and pilots involved, including Shaun 'Nytfury' Taylor, Cain 'Mad_Air' Madere, Paul 'Bulbufet' Nurkkala and Nick 'WillardFPV' Willard.

The finals take off

As soon as that starting sound went everyone was pedal to the metal on the throttle into the first gate. A collision between two pilots going into the first gate meant we had a race restart. This re-run mimicked the crazy fast starts we'd seen in the first race - all out power which settled into a steady lead for Shaun who was pushing a good distance ahead of everyone else. His lines on the corners and the power loop were just so tight, considering the practice he'd had on the course he was absolutely flying through it. Paul was taking a steady pace behind him with Nick following closely and at this point 3 of the 8 finalists had crashed out leaving a good chance for anyone else to clear up a podium place if people kept making mistakes. Adding even more distance between himself and the rest of the field, Shaun kept on the pace throughout all 3 of his laps and was the first through the line to become the Drone Worlds World Champion!

Shaun gives speech

We patiently waited for the rest of the competitors to finish their racing, which was then followed by a huge celebration all around for Shaun and the rest of the top 8 finalists. Shaun gave a great speech during his interview that celebrated racing as a whole, congratulated everyone for competing and gave some inspirational words for everyone around. I hadn't made my mark as the only UK pilot to represent, but I'd had a great time meeting everyone and exploring new places.

Team Racing

A little while after the individual racing had finished we then started on the team-based country racing.

The team racing format was an interesting one - whoever had their name down to race in this racing (we had to add the extra names for our team as you'll see below) would fly with everyone else on the main track as part of the individual racing and get the same 3 qualification runs we did. At the end of the qualification runs, those pilots not in the individual would obviously not advance in that part of the racing, but these times would be used (just like individual racing) to seed the top 8 teams. In order to do this, all 5 pilots best laps were aggregated together to form a final team score; with the lowest score the better!
With 37 countries taking part it was leading up to be a fun race, naturally team UK had a bit of a disadvantage due to me being the only qualified pilot competing in the event.
Because of this I spoke to Scot Refsland and explained the situation about wanting to compete in the team event but lacked the pilots to do so. He explained that we could give 'temporary UK citizenship' status to pilots that were not already competing as part of another team, and so that's exactly what we did! Matt Brimfield was helping out on the FuriousFPV stand so he was an easy choice, increasing our UK and Team participant count to 2. We then went around the pilot’s village trying to find people who were not competing already and we picked up some great pilots! After speaking to Paul and Gil about our predicament they explained that Chris Garza's frame sponsor, and Turbo Mach's owner David Ganc, was not currently competing in the event but was a fast pilot it seemed like a no-brainer. He was ecstatic to be able to fly with us, so that was another pilot down with only 2 more to go! Around the same time we were also informed that SpookFPV, aka Rafael Paiva from Brazil, was also looking for a team. I've been following this guy on Instagram for months and months. He's an epic pilot so to actually meet him never mind actually get him flying for Team UK was awesome. He could not really refuse and loved the thought of flying with us if we made it in to the races. And finally, I think I've saved the best until last (sorry Spook and David!!), after flying with Shaun Taylor in Ala Moana Park a few days previously we knew that Teng (Shaun's partner in crime) had taken the trip out to fly in the exotic locations and support him in the racing. We knew that she had not qualified for the individual racing but she's a great pilot so we figured she would make a great addition to Team Brexit. I think I can safely say that we made her day when we asked her, she was absolutely over the moon to be able to fly as it means she's no longer just sitting around and gets to fly the same amount as the rest of us!

Team Brexit

So that was it, Team Brexit was created! We had such a mix of people it was great - none of us were really expecting to be able to fly in the team race but it was awesome to get some other pilots included in the event flying. Fast-forward through to the individual qualification racing and they had announced the Teams that had the fastest qualifying runs. We didn't hear Team 8 but just assumed it wasn't us as we were on the FuriousFPV stand, but the running order was as follows:

  • Team 1 - USA
  • Team 2 - Australia
  • Team 3 - Canada
  • Team 4 - Korea
  • Team 5 - Japan
  • Team 6 - New Zealand
  • Team 7 - Mexico

It wasn't until around 30 minutes before the racing was due to start that we were informed that we were racing as someone had asked if we were ready for the team racing to which I just gave them a confused look! After the issues I'd had in the individual racing I was over the moon - one more chance to prove to myself that I could fly the course with some level of speed and I wasn't just making up excuses in my head - one more chance to show what I can do.

Quad in the action

I was so pumped to get racing one last time - for me the team race wasn't about staying consistent but just going all out. I knew that from previous races I could not really go full throttle as the track did not allow it without killing the battery so I knew I had to manage the throttle carefully in order to pull something out of the bag.

I had attended the team race meeting that morning as the team captain (albeit a bit late because of Keith!! :D), but nothing had really happened so I wondered off and focused on doing other things. A bit later on that day I was requested to fill in our pilot flying order - everyone gets to fly one round and you score points based on your finished position, with the most points over the 5 races crowning the country champion.

Qualifying high up in the list of 8 teams offered a significant advantage - the idea was that Team 8 would nominate their first pilot, followed by Team 7. However, team 7 was able to see that pilot so they could base their matchup with someone who was slightly faster than their opponents to try and take the victory. Based on this, if you had qualified as a first place team you had the best advantage of all, as you could see the pilot list for the rest of the teams. We didn't have to worry about all of that being in 8th place so we went with a random order that suited us, some preferred to fly first whereas others wanted to be further back in the racing order.

The team

I don't think we could have planned that order any better if we tried. Some of the match ups were quite nice, but the best was obviously seeing Shaun against Teng! A brilliant but hilarious matchup we couldn't wait for the rivalry to take place, I mean Shaun had told her that next race he was going to let her win - was this to be the race? He'd already won Individual at this point so we could only hope.

Here's my only run from the team race, it's a little sloppy with much time that could have been saved across the run, but considering the lack of track practice I'm relatively happy with it. What is most amusing now is looking back at the forced power-loop gate re-take based on the judge’s decision. It seems my bad habit method of taking the powerloop gate had crept over from the same manoeuvre found in Ibiza (at this event it was a legal method), meaning I had to retake the gate as at this competition it was not allowed.

Team results

So from my run I'd managed to get third. Spook put on a cracking first run, such a smooth and solid performance he deserved 1st place but alas USA were just a little faster. David managed to get a blinder of a run and took first place! Whereas Matt Brimfield got taken out in his race at one of the very opening corners. Teng was pretty unlucky but flew awesome during her runs. The first run a gust of wind blew her into one of the gates after the up-and-over section, but the race was restarted due to an outburst of torrential rain. Upon starting the re-run she faced a similar gust but at an alternate location on the track. Nevertheless she put on a great race and in my opinion deserved to be flying in the individual racing also.

Team Brexit

And with that we had third place!! :D

The racing was concluded with a prize ceremony right up until the rain hit again so we quickly packed up our belongings and headed back to our accommodation to celebrate. Team Canada hosted a party that had many attend, but it was sadly on the wrong side of the Island for us and we were all feeling the tiredness after some very long nights.

Final Thoughts

So, what a journey, what a cool place. A competition full of mixed emotions but absolutely no regrets about going. International racing events so far have proven they leave a lot to be desired when it comes to actually flying though maybe I’m just unlucky. Whether it was down to a disappointing race result, the interesting weather I seemingly bring with me (more on that in the British and European Championship posts), or organisational issues that impact on the racing. Getting 3rd in the team race was just absolutely epic, we did not know the results until the final prize ceremony so when we got announced as the runners up I was just ecstatic. Combine that with getting to hangout, meet and party with so many familiar faces that I’d only been able to chat to online before the trip was absolutely awesome and one that I will never forget, as well as meeting new faces that will be life-long friends. I think it’s the community that truly makes this sport unique, and I really hope that as it grows this does not change (at least not for the worse).

I regret not getting chance to fly in even more epic locations around the island as I had to spend most of my free time trying to get my quads race-ready, but that just means I’ll have to make another trip over.. :) it’s such an awesome place that I am so lucky to have experienced I really just want to thank FuriousFPV for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. And on that note I’ll leave it here with just a few final words - see you at the next one..!

Extra Shoutouts

These are in no particular order, for you judgemental folks :D

Honorio, Jamie and all the other resident of Hawaii - These guys are legends - from volunteering for the DSA, to ferrying people around to some of the flying locations they had planned out for us. They also helped with quad retrievals, taxi services and spare parts to people in need. These guys are just epic, I really really hope we get to fly together again! Aside from that, thanks to the rest of Hawaii for having us, what an awesome and unique location.

Chris Ballard - Without Chris there would have been pretty much NO outside coverage of the event to anyone, anywhere. He did a fantastic job of Facebook livestreaming the entire event which cost him money out of his own pocket, and what a great job he did. Friends and family back home got to watch the action although they couldn't be here and they were so grateful for Chris giving up his own events time to do this. I sadly didn't get to see a Freedom Class drone as he didn't bring one, but next time!

Drone Sports Association - Now I know that there will be mixed feelings about this one, due to how the event went (you can find those other reports elsewhere online) but regardless of everything that happened without these guys we wouldn't have even been there. Through all the failings I hope something good can come of the event, and look forward to the coverage we'll see on ESPN.

FuriousFPV - I've already thanked these guys but it goes without saying that these guys really shine through for me, I would not have made it otherwise. On that kind of note, thanks to Sam and Keith (especially, Mr Driver :D ) of FPV-Direct who were great out there and also Trace who was travelling alongside these guys.

Team UK - While we couldn't have all our pilots out there, thanks to everyone who stepped in and made the Team Race for us - it was great fun in which we all got to race more and had a great laugh so thank you David, SPOOOOOOOOOOOK and Teng. Of course cheers to Mat for stepping in too, and saving me on numerous occasions (inside joke).

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Worcester, United Kingdom Website