Scott Fletcher's weather forecast for today was about as iffy as it could get and still be called a forecast. Apparently the weak cold front that was supposed to pass last night got too weak to travel any longer, so it stopped to rest for a while, right over us. None of the normal weather models had any idea what was going to happen, so Scott's prediction was for either blue or cloudy, good lift to 4000' plus or poor lift to 2000'. The only constant in the various predictions was for a small chance of T-storms in the afternoon. CD Rick Sheppe called a 2.5hr MAT for both classes with three mandatory turnpoints (28 Pageland, 07 Bermuda High, 20 Kirk), but with a twist - the last mandatory turnpoint had to also be the last turnpoint before the finish. This meant that pilots had to either return directly to the field after the last mandatory turnpoint, or hit at least two other turnpoints before returning to Kirk and going home. Adding to the excitement and head-scratching was the fact that landing options are a bit sparse in the 15 miles or so between Kirk and home!
The day started later than normal, with Cu's starting to pop around 1pm, with the first launch at 1:25pm. The launch went very smoothly, except for a minor excitement during one takeoff that was handled very professionally by the pilots on both ends of the towrope. It was scratchy for a while, but we were able to get to about 4500-5000' MSL at the start. Most pilots reported getting into trouble at one time or another, with a number getting below 1000' AGL and getting away again (and some that didn't!). The winning strategy for the day was to find a good climb at Kirk, and then go south where the cloud bases were significantly higher and good climbs could be found. Jake Alspaugh won the FAI class with 44 mph, and Sarah Kelly won Sports with a smoking 50mph, flying a borrowed 13.5m Silent 2 ultralight! When asked about her flight, she said she had a crummy first half and a good second half, and was also troubled by an intermittent PDA/recorder setup and no sleep, having arrived here at 3am from Chilhowee. Man, I'm just glad she's flying in Sports class and not kicking our butts in the FAI class!
There were a couple of landouts, including 1-26 driver Kevin Anderson's (192) adventure at a nearby open-pit gold mine (yep, a gold mine in South Carolina - who'd a thunk it?). Kevin's landing options were reduced to trees or an open field in the gold mine complex, so he naturally chose the field, only to find that it contained high grass and some high vent pipes. After dealing with the high grass and avoiding the vent pipes, he next found that he was locked in and no way to get out! After a futile search, Kevin contacted the retrieve desk, who called the local sheriff, who arranged for the site caretaker's son to rescue Kevin and bring him back to the field to get his trailer. Happily, Kevin was able to get back to the field with glider and soul intact, and in time for the wonderful catered dinner put on by the Reids (the brownies were scrumptious!).
The only other items of note for the day were the loss to minor elevator damage of one of our three towplanes when it lost an argument with a golf cart, and the return to active duty at the retrieve desk of Bermuda High regular Sally Campbell after a bout with cancer - welcome back Sally!
All in all, an exciting first contest day. Scott promised us a better soaring day tomorrow, and I sure hope he's right! See ya at the airport, Charlie!
Standard/15 Meter Class Day 1
|4||836||TA||Frank Paynter||Ventus 2Bx||39.86||39.86||110.63||110.63|
|9||212||J4||John Bojack||LS-10 S||40.82||40.82||MD|
|1||918||DU||Sarah Kelly||Silent 2DU||50.55||43.21||130.76||111.76|
|4||691||WB||Wally Berry||H-301 Libelle||32.24||32.80||87.50||89.01|
|6||648||HK||Ron Sutton||Jantar 17||20.00||20.75||48.64||50.45||MT15|
|7||631||56||Jay Campbell||Ventus 2B||33.36||37.74||82.72||93.57||MT TP||63|
|8||238||PE||K. & C. Haney & Cook||PIK-20D||45.18||47.56||AB|
|10||145||192||Kevin Anderson||SGS 1-26||30.75||18.63||MD|