Nathaniel Kuchel has qualified for the Australian Drone Nationals after finishing in the Melbourne Multirotor Club’s top four times at the qualifying meet earlier this month.
Kuchel had some mechanical issues with his drone earlier in the day but was able to overcome that to record the third best time, which guaranteed him a spot at the nationals at the Gold Coast in July.
He said he was worried he might not get the drone on to the track at all.
“It was a really good feeling to qualify, I was very surprised because of how many problems I had and was very happy to get third,” he said.
“On the day I thought I got fifth, I had a lot of troubles with the video and image so it was quite stressful early on.
“It was really windy on the day, so everyone was having a bit of trouble.”
Kuchel competed against 14 other racers with the top four guaranteed a spot to represent the club in Queensland.
The 16-year-old had been practising for weeks on a track he set up at Ararat’s Kokoda Park after he was sent the dimensions ahead of the qualifying meet.
The hard work paid off, as he was only able to complete three laps, compared to the 50 laps most other racers did but still record a fast enough time.
The Marian College student said he will now focus on practising with a new drone on different tracks in the lead-up to the nationals.
“I had one company approach me to sponsor me and they are going to send me a frame that has not been released yet,” he said.
“The new frame has vertical arms, so the plates for the arms go upright instead of horizontal which creates less drag therefore it will go a bit quicker.
“If I can get a few more sponsors, then I will be able to get a few more batteries and others and am fairly confident I will be able to train really well and perform at a high level at the championships.”
Kuchel said he is looking forward to testing himself against the country’s best drone racers and will learn a lot from the experience.
“I am just going to try and make the most out of the experience and take it seriously but still have as much fun as possible during the nationals,” he said.
“I do not want to take it too seriously that I do not have fun.”
The 2017 Australian Drone Nationals will be hosted at the Gold Coast from July 5-9.