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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

13.5 Meter Super Regionals Day 1

Well Day 1 is history and it was an interesting one. We woke up this morning to overcast skies and a generally pessimistic forecast. Still the possibility of unlimited development if it got hot enough and a forecast temperature of somewhere between 87 and 95 degrees depending on which weather guesser you believed. Daniel Sazhin, our weatherkid for the contest was on the pessimistic side but perhaps that was because it wasn't his day to fly #428, he was leaving that to team-mate Ron Schwartz.  We decided to grid at 1PM.

The sniffer struggled at first and launch was delayed but eventually everyone was up and interestingly no one landed for a relight until the entire grid had launched. Unfortunately though there was something like 6 relights, including one pilot twice. Conditions were weak and it was tough to get two good thermals in a row before the start. I got lucky at 1500 AGL just west of the airport and caught a good one just as the gate was opening. Off I went to the west, gaggling with Bob Hurni (190), Tom Barkow (264), and Pete Vredenburg (483 Bulldog) along the way.  The 1-26's kept heading west but I turned more southwest down towards Lake Whitney.

It seemed to me that it was fairly blue back towards TSA but further to the south there were more clouds so I decided to continue running south-ish until it looked like I had a good line back. I also wanted to get to the point where I would be solidly over time because I felt that I would be able to make decent speed back into the wind using streets and the like and make up some time.  I was doing very well going downwind and was averaging 53 mph when I finally turned back.

I saw Francois Pin out by Lake Whitney, on his way back to TSA. He commented after we landed that I was headed the wrong direction :) He managed to find some great lines and smoked us around the course.  Running back into the wind was very challenging for me and for the 1-26er's as I started to hear more and more land out chatter on 123.3.  The first landout had occurred right after the start opened and more and more gliders were getting collected.  From the sounds of things the retrieve desk and clubhouse in general were an exciting place to be.

On the way back the only glider I ever saw was Ron Schwartz, 428 Team, just northeast of Itasca. I was taking a thermal for everything I could get, he took a few turns and continued on. I was sure that I was going to see him in a field somewhere along the way but sure enough he made it home.  Perhaps he really does have some magic in those wings.  I made it to the final steering point, Maypearl, without enough altitude to comfortably make TSA. I needed a few hundred more feet to be able to get a good finish at 500 feet. I could see Bill Vickland (238) in a field just a few miles from the finish and I thought I was going to join him! I had the Leger private airport in range and it seemed I was just on the edge of a straight in landing at TSA, but I needed to be at 500 feet 1 mile out to get a good finish. I managed to find a few puffs of weak thermals along the way and squeeked in at 600 feet and comfortably made a straight in landing.  What a flight!

Turns out there were about 5 of us that finished the task, including 2 1-26's.  Milt Moos (578) wasn't sure if he was going to make the finish until just a mile or two before and was very pleased to make it.  Francois (FP) showed us all how it was done, beating me by 5 handicapped mph. I'm sure tomorrow morning we'll get plenty of good landout stories. When we left the club house this evening many were still out on retrieves. Supper this evening was full of interesting stories about retrieves gone good and bad.

Weather is supposed to improve from here on out so hopefully we'll have more finishers and fewer landouts as the days go on.

Todays flight:

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