Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Good report - Seis

WGC2013 report - 08 January

Compared to the forecast, yesterday's weather was just a bit disappointing, but still produced plenty of completions and valid competition days in all classes. The fine-looking cumulus clouds that covered the contest site at launch time were pretty much the only ones seen by anyone on any task leg.  Lift was occasionally very good (6 knots), but after the start no one found that consistently. The wind abated during the afternoon, but was still something of an issue (as evidence suggests it is most days at Chaves).

It was generally a tough day for US pilots.  Sean Franke (VN) had a very good run in Club Class, finishing 6th, but Sarah Arnold got slowed down in the final turn area, and wound up 28th.  In World Class, Tom McKnight was having a decent run until an extended sink street had him on the ground during the second leg.  Peter Deane (YG) and Phil Gaisford (PG) got slow on the second leg and had to work hard to get home as the day was dying, finishing 22nd and 23rd.

The finish procedure here seems a trifle quirky to some of us.  The finish cylinder has a radius of 3 km. The minimum height for a penalty-free finish varies by class; in standard Class it is typically 60 or 70 meters above ground level, and a pilot who has done a good job of optimizing his final glide will be at that altitude flying only a moderate airspeed.  From there, he must fly about 2.2 km and cross a busy road with lots of truck traffic, at which a penalty is promised to any glider lower than 15 meters.  This requires a glide ratio of at least 40:1 while waterballast should be dumped and landing gear extended (both of which degrade performance).  Finish direction is always chosen to be upwind, and with typical Chaves wind velocity (can easily be 20+ knots) your chance of consistently pulling this off isn't great.

There is no penalty for a landing short of the airfield, and that is clearly the optimum strategy on at least some days.  We have scouted the fields short of the runways, both north and south of the airfield, and have found some good options (and some that would clearly not be).  But even the best are fields that should be examined before use - doing a low approach into a field you have never seen before nor been able to scout from the air is not a good plan for any pilot who wishes to keep his glider in one piece.

We gridded on Runway 18 this morning, in anticipation of a southerly wind.  This is the waterfront grid option, as there is a "volunteer" pond just west of the grid area (a product of the wet weather of the past few months).  Yesterday, eight flamingoes were seen here, but they apparently don't care for the bustle and noise involved in gridding 89 gliders, and thus have not put in an appearance today.

Despite a few early wisps of cumulus, today is looking severely blue.  Wind is around 12 to 15 knots - about as low as we've seen thus far.  The scene from the back of the launch grid was impressive: superb visibility and a cloud-free sky showed three or four thermals, each clearly defined by a dozen or more gliders, with the final few gliders on tow headed toward one of these.

Tasks seem a bit short for these conditions - all look to give the winner a bit less than 1000 points.  But it's fair to say that we all had enough retrieve adventures 2 days ago to last a good while (I think I've at last succeeded in exterminating the last of the 500 or so mosquitos that were in our car as we departed the PG/YG outlanding field) and tasks that generate a high rate of completions will not find many dissenters.

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