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End of the 2000 Season - Charlie's Wrap-up

Throughout the 2001 racing season readers have enjoyed Charlie Spratt's "from-the-field" reporting. Now that the seasonn is over, Charlie has written his final piece full of his usual insights and sometimes irreverant observations. Read-on for Charlie's view of the winners and losers of 2000.

"Hi race fans,

The 2000 season is now in the books and what a roller coaster ride it was. We went from weak and slow to fast and hot and back again. It was a season in which we saw some new names at the top of the score sheet, and a lot of new names in the line-up. It was a year of changes. The one that effected me the most was the end of the gate in National Competitions. The GPS system continues to show how well it works both for starting and for scoring. That's not to say it is perfect but I know that it will be perfected and will serve racing for years to come."

Throughout the 2001 racing season readers have enjoyed Charlie Spratt's "from-the-field" reporting. Now that the seasonn is over, Charlie has written his final piece full of his usual insights and sometimes irreverant observations. Read-on for Charlie's view of the winners and losers of 2000.

"Hi race fans,

The 2000 season is now in the books and what a roller coaster ride it was. We went from weak and slow to fast and hot and back again. It was a season in which we saw some new names at the top of the score sheet, and a lot of new names in the line-up. It was a year of changes. The one that effected me the most was the end of the gate in National Competitions. The GPS system continues to show how well it works both for starting and for scoring. That's not to say it is perfect but I know that it will be perfected and will serve racing for years to come."

If I had to pick one highlight out of the season it would have to be Hank Nixon's win at Mifflin. Hank has been around for a lot of years and has gotten close a couple of times. I could see the tension in his face on the last day when he knew what he had to do. Having Doug Jacobs after you like a run away train will make you tense. Hank did what he had to do and came up the winner. The look of pride and happiness on Hanks face as the gold was put around his neck is one of those moments that make sailplane racing such a great sport.

Watching Greg Chafffee, Bill Bartell, and Rick Walters duel it out for the 18-Meter Championships was another race that was exciting to watch. Bartell was in a new ship (LAK-17); Chaffee was a fairly new name on the National scene and Walters was rusty from being away from racing a year. Bartell was truly impressive holding the lead for most of the race. Walters polished off the rust quickly and begin to shine half way down the backstretch. Chaffee came on like a rocket on the last day to pass Bartell for a thrilling finish to a great race. Uvalde gave us some classic racing days and these guys put the bang in the fireworks. Another highlight of the 18 Meter race was seeing Don Pollard, who is well into his 70's' won a contest day. Don was the only pilot at Uvalde that had flown in the first Dupont Trophy glider race in 1947.

Uvalde has proven to be Sherman Griffith's backyard. Sherm survived the disaster on the first day and went on to defend his lead throughout the race. Sherman is a conservative racer and it paid off at Uvalde.

Littlefield threw us a screwball every day. West Texas had suffered from heavy rain and thunderstorms for a month before the Standard Class Nationals started. I pulled every trick I know to get in six contest days. Two of those days were total land-outs with no damage, thank goodness. Sam Giltner did everything right to win the race. Sam was where he needed to be when he needed to be there. This was Sam's second National title. He is a master of tough weather.

I worked several regionals this season and saw some great racing. Cordele really put on a great show this year both on the ground and in the air. Clyde Taylor and his group have really come together as an organization. The weather in South Georgia was perfect. We saw several contest days with 200 or more miles flown without a land-out.

Watching John Seaborn win Hobbs was a treat. John proved his talent as we flew in weak wet weather that slowly developed into classic Hobbs. Hobbs continues to be a well organized contest with Bob Joann Dittert running things.

I worked the 1-26 Championships down at TSA. This is a wonderful bunch of folks who come to the contest for more than just the race. They are a small group and have known each other for many years. The social events are real fun and the racing is low pressure. I must admit the heat was the biggest challenge for all of us. Watching those guys go out on course in 110 degree heat without a cloud in the sky made me cringe. Pat Tucky walked away with the race. Pat is a real competitor in low performance sailplanes. He is also the PW-5 National Champion.

The race that surprised all of us who were there was Dansville N.Y. The Northeast had been plagued with poor soaring weather all summer. Rain, low vis, and weak lift, had been the culprit. None of us had any real hope for anything different when a huge cold front came charging out of Canada and blew all the crud out into the Atlantic. We saw several contest days with great soaring and great visibility. Another front came right in the middle of the contest and gave us another breath of fresh air to soar in. It was real regional racing fun.

Ionia had just the opposite. Day after day we were confronted with weak hazy conditions. Many days were unsoarable and for the first time we did not get in the required three days. The loss of Jerry Benz was on our minds as we arrived at Ionia but the new owners put all of us at ease. They had the contest organized with the help of Pete Smith and all was in place. They were not discouraged and will hold another next year.

New Castle did not have good weather this year but who cares? It is one of those races where the camaraderie of the Racing community is at its best. The site is breath takingly beautiful and the hospitality unsurpassed. It is a classic way to end the season.

I've got lots of news about some of the people in Racing. Here goes in no particular order.

Charlie and Bryan Hoke have graduated from college with honors. Both of these guys are now commissioned officers in the Air Force. Bryan and Charlie worked many gates during their teenage years. They were the best that ever came down the line. Both started when they were 12 working at Ameriglide. From there they worked gates at Hobbs Livingston, Montaque, and Uvalde. As a team they could nail any starter coming from any IP. Both guys have flown gliders since they were 14 and both have competed in the Air Sailing regional. I have known these kids since they were born and they are straight arrows who have a real future. All of us in Racing can be proud of what they have accomplished.

I got a chance to spend a day with Dick Schreder. He is doing much better and is comfortable with dialysis. We talked about the "good ole days†and had lunch with Angie and Carol. Dick has given all of his prototypes and unfinished projects to the Penn State Soaring Club. Mark Maughmer is the godfather of the club and tells me they plan to donate as much of Dick's stuff as is useable to museums and other clubs. It was a great gift.

Another young person that traveled with me in the past was Randy McMaster. I got a note the other day that Randy is getting married. He is marrying Renee Melear. They plan to live in Plano Texas.

Sam Zimmerman's daughter Fielding has had her first baby. He was a 7 ½ pound boy named John Pringle. Fielding was a great gate worker and crew when she traveled with her dad.

This is an editorial. There were 8 pilots total in the five regionals I attended this season still using cameras. I think the time has come to go completely to the GPS start and scoring system in all classes in all races. This system takes a lot of the aggravation out of organizing a contest. It is also time to stop using film as a back up for the GPS system. All of us who have been working contest for years are ready for the scoring system to go to one system. The transition has gone on for eight years, and it has been tiresome mixing the two. The GPS system is clearly the best choice for scoring and starting. The freedom that the GPS system will give organizers and CD's in scoring and task calling will be a boon to racing. No more being restricted to ground targets, no more assembling and printing turnpoint books. GPS will give us the chance to go to airports that are not established contest sites and use them without the huge pre contest prep that it takes now. I am sure that in the future tasks will be flown to lats. and longs only. The cost of these recorders will continue to come down and they will get better. Now there is software to support some of the less expensive GPS loggers for regional contests. This along with the fact that the IGC has added several new loggers to their approved list make the system the one to use in racing. With 99% of the pilots using GPS, with its proven reliability, it is time to make it the only system and clean out the rule book of all the old camera rules.

Ok I am now off the soap box.

The National Soaring Foundation in Hobbs changed its charter at the last NSF Board meeting. It will now concentrate on building a contest organization that can be moved and used no matter where the contest site is. I am on this board and I am thrilled with this change. We feel that the number of contest sites are shrinking in the US and this is a way to gain some new sites. The first test of this organization will be at Reese Air Force Base next season with a regional. If we can make this work we have plans of going to Marfa, Brady, and Los Vegas N.M. We have the basics already in place. The Ditterts, Charlie Minner, Bill Ruehle, Tom Pressley, and myself are all a part of the team.

Speaking of contest the following sites and dates have been set for 2002.

The Standard Class will be at Hobbs July 2 - 11.

The Open Class will be at Reece near Lubbock Tx. July 30 - August 8.

Because the 15 Meter should be in the West the Board is giving the folks trying to get Tonapah Nv. together a chance to do so. The dates to be announced.

I will get the other races dates as soon as possible.

The rules committee will meet in November. Some of the subjects that will be covered are as follows:

Sports handicap management.

Modified Assigned Task for Nationals. (Currently used in regionals only).

Review of mandatory preflight safety check.

Expanded use of radio communication by competing pilots.

Area turnpoint tasks.

Should scoring programs be SSA certified?

Current balance in the US Team Fund is approximately $27,000.

John Good has been replaced as the head of the Contest Committee due to his moving into working for Soaring Magazine. Aland Adams has replaced John.

The season is over and all of us now face the cold and gray of yet another winter. I am already thinking about the sun and Cu of next season.

See you at the airport.

Charlie

 

Posted: 10/10/2000 By: General News


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