Bruce Brockhoff—An Australian Champion (Updated)

Bruce Winston Brockhoff

Bruce Winston Brockhoff was brought up on a grazing farm near Dromana in Victoria, Australia.  He attended Osborne State School followed by Red Hill Consolidated State School (learning sheet metal and wood work ... and, wait for it ... apple packing!) At his secondary school, Huntingtower, he was elected School Captain or Head Prefect in his last year and was awarded Blues in Football and Athletics. He matriculated with two first and two Second Class honors and was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend Monash University in 1961-64, graduating with a Bachelor of Economics & Politics Degree, taking four years to do a three-year course. This delay was caused by a few overpowering distractions normal for a boy 18 years of age. He was fortunate to make many lifelong friends by living in Deaken Hall (Australia’s first coed on-campus hall of residence) and was well known at the famous Notting Hill pub some ½ mile from Monash University.

Bruce studied computers and the then 'dreaded' machine language whilst attending Monash, together with experiencing a very different life style as an exchange student in India for four months. He played on the Monash Intervarsity football team (Australian Rules) and Ski Team.

Bruce  was  employed  as a biscuit salesman, Systems Analyst and COBOL programmer   for   seven   years  in  the  once famous family  business of  Brockhoff Biscuits,  a  household  name  in  Australia 20 years ago.  His  uncle,  Alan Brockhoff,  developed the recipes for  Salada,  Savoy, Chocolate Royals Barbecue & Cheese Shapes, Cheds and Chocolate  Ripples  some  of  which are  still manufactured and sold under the Arnott name. He co-founded The Cargo Hold chain of shops, which he ran for over 20 years.

More Biscuits

Brockhoff Biscuit Truck

He spent a week in a military hospital in Siberia (30 km from the Chinese border) during the Sino-Soviet dispute on the way to the Munich Olympics via the Trans Siberian railway. He also demonstrated, flew in air shows and sold Maule aircraft to outback stations for use in cattle mustering (round up), selling nine aircraft single-handed in one year.

Bruce was three times Australian National Champion in 15 m racing class sailplanes. He won the last day in the World Gliding Championships in Hobbs, New Mexico in the 15 m racing class in 1983 and the Pre-World Gliding Championships in the Standard Class at Benalla. He also won a day in the Pre-Worlds in Rieti, Italy.

Brockhoff represented and competed for Australia in nine international gliding events, including one in the Gobi Desert of China, which he won. He served as Team Captain for the Australian Gliding Team at the World Gliding Championships in Borlange, Sweden and managed to obtain free shipping of gliders two years in a row to Sweden and back. He obtained  brand new Volvos for pilots and crew—the biggest team ever of eight pilots. Nearly 650 faxes went through his fax machine over three years to organise the team for the Pre-Worlds and actual World Championships in Sweden. On a sour note, only one pilot wrote a note of thanks for either year. He was asked to be Team Captain for the next World championships but declined.

Bruce was Convener of the Rules Making Committee of the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) for over ten years.  He   was  Australian  (GFA)  delegate  to  the  International  Gliding Commission (IGC) held each year in Paris in 1987 and 1988.

He was awarded the Federation Aéronautique' International Airsport Medal number 84 (Paris France) in 1993 for 'service to the sport of gliding'. He organised and ran many cross country training competitions known as the Tocumwal Teams Challenge with the aim of encouraging young pilots to participate in racing gliders with the emphasis on flying in pairs in a relaxed and casual fun way.

Bruce is an enthusiastic sailor of solar powered sailing catamarans. He built and launched Dream Catcher, a 48ft sailing catamaran in 1998. He won a Victorian Land Care Award for raising from seed and planting over 30,000 Australian native trees on his family farm at Dromana (three rows of trees in plantations 10 m wide double-fenced totaling over 13 km long).  He was a breeder of Angus bulls and Super Fine wool Merino sheep and an enthusiastic and keen grower of exotic, full flavored, aromatic, heritage and purpose bred tomatoes. Bruce is a devotee of the modern pressure cooker (using heaps of bay leaves, rosemary, time, cumin & lemon peel where appropriate).

Brockhoff is currently experimenting with solar heat collection systems, including evacuated glass tubes from China in a project entitled "More BTU's for your Buck$". The few ideas that have come to him regarding the world's desperate need for more use of solar energy have come about by an accumulation  of  knowledge  and  skills that he has been fortunate to acquire from using solar energy in gliding and the effect of the sun on growing pastures & crops along with solar heating a greenhouse. These ideas been drawn together with a lot of input and guidance over the years from many mates, notably mentor Bill Riley of Tocumwal NSW and Ellis Rowe of Benowa Waters QLD.

Bruce photographed with The Federal Shadow Minister for Environment, the Hon. Greg Hunt in front of his Invention Solarflume

Such is his love of tomatoes that he claims, “If you cannot smell them, don’t buy them and tell the shop keeper why - they will be tasteless and cardboard like for the convenience of everyone except the consumer, hence his latest invention, SOLARFLUME www.solarflume.com.au , which heats his tomato growing greenhouse. He sells up to eight different varieties of tomatoes at a stall at his farm's front gate, grown hydroponically in a greenhouse heated by his invention. The outside vegetable garden has its soil heated by the same method. Vegetables, including tomatoes, believe spring has come two months early and autumn extends into winter by two months. It’s all to do with soil temperature rather than air temperature.

Bruce is married to Kristine with whom he has two very young and beautiful daughters: Brooke  (16) and Belle (19).  Brooke was recently judged as among the top 3% of world entrants in ‘The Event’ held in Orlando, Florida on December 2, 2011. The Event is attended by the world’s top film, theatre, and modeling agents along with casting directors. She was later interviewed by 15 agents.

Belle has won eight national titles in seven years, including the US Nationals in Border Cross and is hoping to be chosen for the Australian Team for the next Olympics in Sochi, USSR. Over the last three weeks, she has podiumed three times in the last four races in the USA.  She is presently ranked 2nd in the USA and is attending her most important race this weekend in Canyons, Utah. She had the 4th fastest qualifying time against some Olympians and World Cup winners but unfortunately damaged some soft tissue in one of her knees by a ‘hard landing’ on one of the very long jumps on the border cross course (considered one of the toughest in the USA) and could not compete in the finals the next day.

Bruce’s darkest year and on the downside of a wonderful gliding life, despite winning the practice year in standard class in the Pre-Worlds Gliding Competition at Benalla and favorite to win in the next year’s World Gliding Championships (by the Germans, French and English), he was prevented from representing Australia by twin camera failures in the Australian Nationals and a reluctance of the team selectors to exercise their use of the “exceptional circumstances rule” in choosing the last team member. Most of the top competitors from Europe and the USA could not believe their luck that he was not going to be competing.

The only consolation to this very depressing dilemma for Bruce was that the organizers of the Benalla World Gilding Championships separately and independently invited him to be Competition Director of the World Championships on the basis that he was “the most experienced and current competitor skilled and experienced in international events;” however,  such was his disillusionment with the gliding movement and some of its officers all he wanted to do was to be the ‘daily snifter’ pilot at the world comps and be with his Aussie and International friends in a more casual and friendly task  that allowed him to fraternize to the maximum. His other task was to be Special Advisor to the Organisers.

The World comps at Benalla were preceded by the now famous ATSOP (Australian Tool Shed Opening Party)  held beside Bruce’s caravan at Tocumwal airport, to which most of the notable International racing glider pilots attended, complete with a home grown lamb on a spit from his farm and the odd VB (Aussie Beer) or three.

Bruce last competed in a LS6, in the World Gliding Championships in Uvalde Texas, with a competition number of MS. He was given this number by Greta Musters, the wife of Kees Musters, one of Bruce’s closest gliding friends after Kees was killed in a freak hang glider accident in the European Alps. Bruce met Kees in 1983 at the World Gliding Championships in Hobbs, which Kees won in the 15m class. Bruce also met and formed a very close relationship with George Schuit and Ritz de Luy, also of Holland, which continues today.

Inside the Museum (click to enlarge)

Bruce recently donated a brand new large hangar at the Bacchus Marsh Airfield (known as the Bruce Brockhoff Annex to the Australian Gliding Museum), built to house many a donated vintage glider including all of Bill Riley’s. Bill was Bruce’s most influential and strongest mentor during Bruce’s glider racing career. They did many an informative and fruitful overseas trip to nearly all  the  glider  factories  of  Europe, Eastern Europe and the UK as well  as  the  major gliding airfields of Germany, France and Italy and England.  The  Rumanians were particularly friendly and generous with their home made wines and grappa.

At 69 Bruce  continues  to  graze  440  Angus  Cows & Calves and around 2000 Crossbred  ewes  & lambs on his farm at Dromana/Tuerong one hour South of  Melbourne on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. He uses treated sewage water   from   Melbourne  for  irrigate  the latest pastures & fodder  crops from  Seedforce  Australia.  He  has  just completed a 3 year 'BeefCheque' Diploma course which "is about growing more grass, utilising more grass, growing more beef" and sheep".

Bruce Brockhoff Annex

Click here to download a nice article about the new museum annex from Glide Angle Brockhoff Museum Annex.

View   the   action  and  procedures  at  a  typical   World   Gliding Championship  at  the upcoming event in August 2012 in Uvalde Texas USA

More information about Bruce here soaring.eu

  4 comments for “Bruce Brockhoff—An Australian Champion (Updated)

  1. February 13, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Wow!!

  2. David Goldsmith
    February 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Bruce has been a wonderful supporter of the Australian Gliding Museum and we are pleased to see him receive the recognition he so richly deserves,
    David Goldsmith, President, Australian Gliding Museum Inc

  3. Scott Woollard
    March 4, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Good evening Bruce,

    I want to congratulate you on the wonderful article in the Monash University site. As a student at Monash, it is great to see what previous graduates have achieved in their lives, obviously giving us all hope and the drive to make something of our lives.
    Many thanks,
    Scott

  4. Graeme Spry
    June 26, 2012 at 6:27 am

    This is some record Bruce

Comments are closed.