Saturday, January 12, 2013

Teamwork, USA style

As a gliding country, we may have turned the corner on this pair-flying thing.

For many years, the US competition rules did not allow cooperation by pairs of pilots. As a result, the US Team has been at a disadvantage in international championships, where pair-flying is allowed.

Done well, pair-flying gives both pilots an advantage. And doing it well requires practice, something that is hard to come by back home. Done poorly, pair-flying tends to slow down both pilots, and we have a few examples of mediocre team performance attributable to trying to figure it all out during a WGC.

Our efforts to reverse this situation seem to be paying off, finally.

We had pretty good results at Uvalde, especially in the Open Class - and here at Chaves, we have had so much success that it's being noticed by our European friends.

Sarah and Sean flew together at the 2011 Sports Class Nationals and finished first and second. They invested a lot of time on the ground talking about pair-flying techniques, and last year they were students at the Team Training Camp (hosted by Sarah at Chilhowee) taught by Brian Spreckley.

On two of the days here, they placed high on the score sheet, together, and they both credit pair-flying for their good results. They were well on the way to doing it again on Thursday when they fell into a trap that nearly got them both. By sheer serendipity, Sean escaped and Sarah didn't.

In the Standard Class, Peter and Phil have been practicing together since before last year's Nationals, in which they essentially tied for first. They are doing so well together that on the overcalled miserable days (of which we've had more than our share), they can pretty much count on each other's company aux vaches.

Even when separated, our pairs know how to cooperate. Yesterday, Phil was not in a position to start when the fast group departed. Peter went with them and relayed tactical information back to Phil, who was consequently able to catch the fastest moving gaggle in the world and rejoin his partner.

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