Friday, January 11, 2013

Good report - Nueve

WGC2013 report - 11 January

Yesterday's wind actually moderated during the afternoon - one of the few times we've seen that happen.  Against this was the fact that the inversions (there were more than one) didn't break as expected, so lift was both lower and weaker than predicted.   The result was another tough day of low speeds and some landouts.

Among these was Sarah Arnold, who got low shortly after the start and couldn't dig out of that hole.  Sean Franke did manage to recover, and went on to finish second for the day, which has him standing third for the contest, just 4 points out of first.  In World Class, about two-thirds got home - the winner did a bit less than 50 kph (i.e. areound 30 mph);  Tom was again among those who landed out (this time fairly near to one of the good paved roads).  In Standard Class, nearly everyone got home, but speeds were decidedly moderate:  best was just over 70 kph; Peter and Phil did around 63 kph.  (When the best pilots in the world, in state-of-the art gliders, struggle to do 43 mph over tasks of under 100 miles, you know the flying is difficult.)

As is normal at World contests - especially when weather is blue - there has been lots of gaggling at WGC2013.  This puts a premium on the ability to climb through a gaggle and thus tends to encourage a level of aggressive flying that pushes (and occasionally crosses) the boundary of what's safe.  This reliably leads to talks at the morning pilot briefing about the importance of proper thermal etiquette, the dangers of inconsiderate flying, etc.  But it's difficult - perhaps impossible - to enforce safe flying behavior, and no doubt the pilots who are good at pushing the boundary understand this and are not much impressed by exhortations to mend their ways.

Angel Garcia is crewing for Tom McKnight and thus has had some varied retrieve experiences.  As a good crew should be, he's resourceful - as was seen the other day when the gate to Tom's field was locked and the farmer could not be found.  What would be a problem for many was opportunity for Angel - he disassembled the gate, then after the glider was disassembled and the trailer was out of the field, re-assembled it, good as new.  This definitely fits with the Argentine attitude toward life: problems will arise, and then we will work out a way to solve them.

Angel Garcia, our teammate from Texas

This is about the windiest day yet seen during the official competition - we rigged glider PG this morning in a north-northwest wind blowing a fairly solid 25 knots.  This is a job for at least 3 (4 is better) and requires techniques such as stationing one person to manage the canopy while it's open, lest it slam shut and cause injury or damage.  There was plenty of blowing dust (fortunately the major sources of this are not directly upwind of our trailer parking area).  We have learned that on the (today rather long) haul to the launch grid it's important to attach the wing wheel to the downwind wing - we saw several crews that had this wrong and had the wind upset their glider.

Today's forecast calls for more of this: wind is expected to increase, and the only cloud is likely to be cirrus (already visible by 10:00) which may thicken and reduce heating.  If this holds, I'm skeptical that it will be possible for World Class gliders to achieve a valid task today, and indeed both Club and Standard classes may be hard put to fly the necessary distance.

Update at launch time:  The forecast wind increase has not yet happened, so we're still dealing with around 25 knots.  The first two classes to launch (Club and Standard) seem to be doing okay.  The area around home is now entirely blue; to the west we see an area of thick cirrus which may be moving our way, but so far slowly.  So the optimistic among us - now a furtive and dwindling band - can hope that today's rather short tasks are possible.

1 comment:

  1. We live in hope that you will one day awake to a calm morning with the prospect of launching gliders into a blue sky decorated with cumulus. We are cheering Team USA from England and enjoying all the reports, pictures and tweets. Thank you!!


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