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Seniors Championship - TA Report

At the morning meeting today, Andreea Alexandrescu received a standing ovation from the assembled pilots and crews for the outstanding job the entire Alexandrescu family has done hosting the 2011 Seniors. 

Ace weatherman Ray Galloway gave us the news on the weather for the day. Basically more of the same – blue, blue, and more blue.  The prediction was for significantly better/higher climbs to the north, and significantly poorer/lower to the south.  So, the call was for a 4-turn TAT with a big 25-mile circle around Ocala, two small circles around Green Swamp and Osborne, and then another big circle around Winter Haven.  The Winter Haven circle was large enough so all the pilots had to do to get into the circle was get to the south end of the field at Seminole, clip the circle and enter the pattern.

The day got started a bit late, and so the Task didn’t open until almost 2pm – not a good thing with a 2:30 min time and the banquet scheduled for 6pm 20 miles from the field!  Pilots started streaming out shortly after the Task opened, but the fast guys held back until about 2:30pm or so.  The run up into the Ocala circle was well marked with gliders, but it became quickly evident that the actual weather wasn’t anywhere as good as our now-not-so-trustworthy weatherman promised us this morning – just can’t trust anyone with a southern accent!  Anyway, we all kept going and we all kept getting lower and lower, and then we started taking 3kt thermals to 3500 instead of the 5kt thermals to 6000 we were expecting.

Pilots started turning early in anticipation of more trouble on the way home, but the faster guys pressed on.  I spotted KS turning hard and going up like a rocket, just about a mile north of the Ocala airport.  When I got there I ran into a 6kt thermal to 5700’ – wow!  The amazing thing was, no one else got into this thermal – you would think two gliders banked up at 45 degrees and going up fast would have been like a great big sign saying “HERE HERE HERE!”  KS went south, and I went on north, figuring I would be able to use that thermal twice – great idea, but my execution sucked.  When I got back to the same spot, the thermal had apparently gone back to bed.  Surprisingly, conditions got a bit better as we continued south, making me start to wonder if Ray had got the weather forecast right, but had switched ‘north’ for ‘south’ when he gave it to us ;-).

In the end, almost everyone made it around (there were only two landouts), and everyone (except the landout victims) made it to the banquet on time.  The scores were a state secret until banquet time, so I am writing this from the banquet room between bites at my dinner.  The winner for the banquet day was perennial winner Ken Sorenson with a speed of 60.43mph raw / 53.69mph handicapped, followed (very!) closely by yours truly Frank Paynter with 60.15mph raw / 53.01mph handicapped.  Third for the day was John Seymour with 60.55mph raw / 53.01mph handicapped.

After 6 days of superb weather, fine flying, and excellent sportsmanship, the overall result of the 2011 Seniors was a very close race.  Tom Kelley took first overall on the very first day and defended it successfully for the entire 6 days with a total of 5767 for 6 days.  Apparently the rest of us couldn’t hit the target that Tom was convinced was painted on his back!  Tom was followed closely by Karl Striedieck, only 52 points back at the end with 5715.  Another 51 points back found John Seymour for third place overall with 5622.  Fourth place overall was yours truly just 42 points off the podium at 5622.  Fifth place overall went to Dick Butler with 5568.  Local Florida boy Henry Retting was 6th with 5524.  National champ Chip Garner was seventh with 5457, Ron Ridenour was eighth with 5443, Robin Clark was ninth with 5431, and World champ Doug Jacobs flying a borrowed Discus 2 was tenth with 5425

The first order of business at the banquet was the ceremonial retirement of the infamous ‘Uffda’ award (meaning ‘oops – or something like that’), and the institution of the ‘O Mare Greşeală’ award (meaning about the same thing in Romanian).  Rick Fuller was the inaugural recipient of the OMG due to his failure to make the distinction between a good landing field and a phosphate mine! ;-).

As I write this, the 2011 Seniors has come to a close, and pilots who were at each others throats a few hours ago are sharing a beer and lies at the banquet.  We will all be heading for different parts of the country, but we will always remember this contest as one of the very best in the history of the Seniors Championships.

TA

 

Posted: 3/19/2011


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