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Standard Class Nationals - Day 1 at Std Class Nationals

When I looked out the window of the micro-castle this morning at o-dark-thirty (actually 0630) as I got ready to go to the field, I saw a completely overcast sky with very low clouds.  Uh-Oh, the bad weather must have followed me from Ionia, and now the Cordele contestants are going to want my hide!

Fortunately, by the time I made the  10-minute drive to the field, the low overcast was starting to burn off, and I was able to convince everyone that this was completely natural (not mentioning that it is only completely natural for Uvalde,Tx).  And, in fact it *did* burn off, just like Uvalde.  Weather forecast by imminent weatherman (and CD) Ray Galloway was for 5000-7000' cloudbases and decent lift.  No mention of thunder-bumpers, but there might be some small rainshowers and/or cu-nims.  The fly in the ointment for today was a somewhat brisk wind from the southeast - 10-15kt that caused the Buoyancy/Shear ratio to be in the single digits (bad).

This was the first day for the Std Nats guys, and they got a 3hr, 4-turn TAT with Dublin, Rochelle, Tifton, and Montezuma (hmm, if you land out at Montezuma, is that 'Montezuma's revenge'?).

By grid time we were seeing some anemic looking cu's that were forming and then dissipating in about 30 seconds (well, maybe a little longer), indicating that the buoyancy/shear problem was real.  However, by launch time cloud base had risen substantially, and some clouds were actually hanging around long enough to work.  The gates for all classes were open by about 2:15 or so, and most pilots were out on course by 2:30.  Conditions out on course were quite variable, with some really good climbs in 5-8kt category, and also some really bad areas of sink.  Thermal locations under clouds were a complete mystery to me throughout the day, and sometimes there were multiple cores under the big ones.  Later in the day I finally figured out that the big, dark clouds with light rain coming out were the best, but it was a bit scary driving into rain to find a thermal!  The fast guys in the 15 and 18m class managed to figure out the streeting on the long upwind leg from Perry to Hazelhurst, and the rest of us paid the price for not figuring it out ;-).

Henry Retting (R) won the day in Std Class Nationals with 72.93mph, but his toehold on the top overall place is slim to non-existent.  Enrique Mertins (BN) was second for the day with a 998, and even 12th place for the day scored over 900 (how would you like to be the only guy in the fleet who *didn't* score at least 900 on day 1?  Better than repeatedly landing out on day 1 like some pilots I know, I suppose ;-)).

The popular weather forecast for the rest of the contest reads as follows:  "Sunny, high in the 90's, calm or very light winds from east or southeast".  I think we can live with that ;-).

TA

Posted: 6/7/2011


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