Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Good report - Trece

WGC2013 report - 15 January

Compared to the day before, we got just a bit farther yesterday.   By 1:30 the low cloud layer had entirely dissolved and sun was on the ground everywhere.  The first launch was delayed a couple of times, but by around 2pm World class gliders were on tow, and for the first time in the contest, all were able to "stick" - I saw no gliders relaunch, and indeed none that looked particularly low.  This no doubt had a lot to do with winds under 10 knots - the friendliest of the contest thus far.  Pilots reported altitudes around 1000 meters, and best climbs of better than 1.5 m/sec.

Tasks for Standard class and then Club class were soon cancelled, presumably on the basis that there would not be time to complete these launches and then a task in what was predicted to be a short soaring day.  But pretty much everyone assumed that the World class would now have a chance at their fifth task in conditions that looked well short of booming, but definitely friendly.

So more than a few eyebrows were raised when, with World Class gliders hovering near the start line waiting for the flag to drop, their task was cancelled.  One report had it that this was done because the latest weather report suggested there would not be time for completions, and thus another mass landout day would ensue.  But, while most pilots chose to land, some stayed in the air and one was seen in the landing pattern after 5pm, which suggests the day may well have been long enough.  And we've certainly seen that in this task area lots of landouts can be done safely.  The result of all this was our third straight day without a task for any class, and a general sense that time is running short with more flying needed for this contest to be considered a fair test.

We continue to enjoy good wildlife sightings.  The pond just west of the Chaves runways has shrunk a bit in the recent dry weather, but still has an area of several acres and a good amount of bird life.  Yesterday's included Franklins Gull, White-cheeked Pintail, South American Stilt, Southern Lapwing, Cinnamon Teal, Plumbeous Ibis, Great Grebe, and Maguari Stork. Seven Chilean Flamingoes made a low approach in tight formation, but - perhaps deterred by dozens of strange white birds camped on the lawn nearby - pressed on east toward quieter neighborhoods. In the campground we've discovered the nest of a pair of Whistling Herons, which so far seem undeterred by a high level of human activity 40 feet below.  A less welcome critter is the armadillo, unadmired for his habit of digging holes in runways, glider parking areas, fields, and elsewhere.

Fortunately, we have a much better looking day today: sun, a few high clouds, light northwest wind, cumulus likely.  The marplot [? Ed.] seems to be a chance of afternoon thunderstorms creeping in on Chaves from the southeast.  Because of this, the first launch is scheduled for 11:30 - the earliest we've yet seen.  Tasks (of which each class has been given four possible) mostly head north, where conditions are forecast to be very good: climbs of 3+ m/sec to over 2500 meters.  The general thought among pilots is to try to carve out the best 3 hours of flying that the day offers (that's about how long the announced tasks should require), aiming to be on final glide before encountering problems with late afternoon overdevelopment or storms.

12:30 update:  Launch is now complete (a large fleet of towplanes consistently achieves this in around an hour) into an absolutely gorgeous sky, dotted with cumulus whose bases are above 5000 ft.  Winds are around 10 kts.  Looking southeast we see thicker cloud and some tendency toward vertical development that could prove troublesome later.  But for now it's easy to think that we at last have the conditions we came for, and that today will yield a high rate of completions and brisk speeds.  In view of this, tasks may not be quite long enough: in Standard class, for example, the task distance is 339 km which a fast pilot on a day like today should complete in around 2:45 or so - whereas a minimum of 3 hours is required for an undevalued day.  But perhaps this can be seen as a buffer against possible bad weather late in the day.  In any case, this day looks to produce distances and speeds to make pilots smile.

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