Lake Red Rock Balloonfest 2013
By Benji Clemmons
The Lake Red Rock Balloonfest has become one of the most popular balloon events in Iowa in just three years drawing many of Iowa's heavy hitters including Scott Armstrong, Cory Bloom, Brad Craig, Todd Isley, Jeremy Rubin among many others. Many pilots use it as their final warm up before the National Balloon Classic or the BFA Nationals. Over the past couple years of the event Bill Clemons has served as the Race Director. However this year Bill stepped down from the Race Director position to the role of Assistant Race Director. Long time pilot and one of the event organizers Kevin Mart stepped in is Bill's place. Along with the change came some changes to the event including beginning the event competition on Friday evening instead of Saturday morning.
When pilots arrived at the briefing on Friday evening there were still high hopes of getting in a task as the winds were right on the edge of the waiver limitations. After a couple of weather holds the winds had come down to the 10 knot waiver limit but occasional gusts and a less than favorable direction with no steering the evening flight was cancelled. Pilots, crews and sponsors then headed over to the "Pilot Sponsor Mixer" at the Bos Landen Country Club.
Saturday brought slightly lower winds and plenty of steering. Kevin called a two part task; Fly in Task and a Hesitation Waltz. The winner of the Fly in task would also win the Marion County Bank Red Rock Cup. With many good scores, the task and cup were won by Jeremy Rubin. The Hesitation Waltz required pilots to then make their way across the dam and lake to their choice of two possible goals, the western one located on a cul-de-sac and the other located just north of the beach. All of the pilots chose to go for the western target and had another good round of scores with the task Winner being Brad Craig. After the first two tasks the top five was led by Christine Bertsch who had second place drops on both targets. She was followed closely by 2nd Brad Craig, 3rd Dale Dommer, 4th Benji Clemons and 5th Jason Jones.
Saturday evening once again brought windy conditions and a less than favorable wind direction with minimal steering. The winds were forecast to drop closer to sunset so 4 pilots, Al Appenzeller, Cory Bloom, Jeremy King, and Ralph Rieck, volunteered to do a small glow for the crowd with fellow competitor Dale Dommer serving as announcer. Dale also set his equipment out for the crowd to get a closer look at what balloons look like.
Sunday morning brought a lot of steering and two more tasks, a Fly in Task and a Hesitation Waltz. There were many different lines into the first Target with pilots taking off on lines ranging anywhere from a 120 to a 150. The Fly in was located at the area just north of the beach that had been used the previous morning. This target proved a little harder to dial in on as scoring was not as tight as it had been on the previous tasks. The Hesitation Waltz gave pilots the choice of the same cul-de-dac they had flown to the previous morning or a large yard a little farther to the Northeast. The majority of the pilots chose to fly to the cul-de-sac as it required a little less maneuvering to get to. The scoring once again tightened up on this task.
When it was all said and done the scores amongst the top five were relatively tight with Brad Craig pulling ahead of Christine Bertsch on the last target. The remaining top five were 3rd Todd Isley, 4th Benji Clemons and 5th Jeremy King. After another successful year the event announced that the dates for 2014 would be July 11th-14th. Pilots were already marking their calendars as they were leaving.