Friday, January 4, 2013

Groundhog day

We tried even harder today than yesterday to complete a practice task, but we got the same result. The wind abated a bit, which was good, but so did the lift, which wasn't.

The result was the same as yesterday, with all the starters turning around somewhere on the first leg for a return to home base. At least this time we had more starters, a couple of dozen in the World and Standard Classes. The Club Class had no chance, and their Task was scratched while most of them were still on the ground.  The call was for 3 AATs, but that hardly matters.

At this contest, most of the teams' base stations are situated in the campground. All the shady spots have been taken by tents (and a gargantuan bus belonging to Team Germany), so the radio stations tend to be out in the sun, shaded by awnings. Such is the case with "USA Base." When Phil and Peter called in to say that they'd had enough, this groundhog stepped out from under the awning, looked around, and couldn't find his shadow. The cirrostratus continued to thicken all afternoon and into the evening.

One of the features of this contest site is a robust public address system. In one corner of the operations building is a table manned by a frustrated DJ-type. In front of him is a microphone on a stand, and behind him is a kilowatt amplifier that definitely goes to 11. The guy is frustrated because both the hours and the volume of the music he's allowed to play have been reduced by unanimous request of the Team Captains (probably the only unanimous vote taken so far). The system is completed by several giant weatherproof speakers strung up in the trees throughout the public areas, including the campground.

The reason I bring this up is that this is an ideal system for announcing Task opening times.  They probably have a plan to do this during the contest, but so far it hasn't happened. Today they opened the World Class Task on the radio, and I missed the call. (It's my job to relay this information to the pilots on the Team frequency - the pilots don't listen to Operations). My fumble caused Tom to miss an opportunity to make a favorable start, a mistake that we will not make during the competition. We now have a plan to employ our new bicycle to make sure that official information gets from the Organisers to USA Base. Even the backup plans have backup plans at this contest.

Every evening around 7pm an overnight weather forecast booms out from the speakers in the trees, in both English and Spanish. You can't miss it. Tonight they told us that a front will go through with possible squalls. This caused us to run around and derig gliders, which, in turn caused this blog post to be late.

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