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Seniors Championship - TA Report

Day 3 here at the 2011 Seniors was a boomer in every sense of the word.  Clouds to die for in all quadrants.  Cloud bases at about 4500’ at the start, rising to above 6000’ in the last turn area.  Cloud streets and 5-6kt climbs were common.  There was an early concern about a band of mid-level cirrus coming in from the west, but the band dissipated just after the start gate opened and did not affect the task.

The launch went off without a hitch again today, and scorer Rick Sheppe reported that he continues to be amazed at how well the tow pilots and ground crew worked together to get it done.  Quite a complicated ballet with 50-odd gliders, 5 tow planes, and an entire crew of Japanese flight students acting as runners.  The result of the dance today was 51 gliders launched in 51 minutes - well done, guys!!

Local Florida boy Henry Retting won the day with a 71.32 mph raw / 65.68mph handicapped.  Second place went to another local boy, Billy Kerns with  70.24mph raw / 64.42mph handicapped.  Third was Tom and Doris Knauff with 71.73mph raw / 64.12mph handicapped.  For those of you not familiar with glider racing, this means these guys had to be cruising at well over 90kt between thermals, and not stopping very often for climbs.  Henry told me that he started out the west side of the start circle, waiting for a good cloud lineup.  He maxed out the first small cylinder and then headed SE toward the SW corner of the second cylinder.  He says his first three climbs were all better than 6kt, so he deliberately started going lower between climbs, not stopping until crossing through 3000 in order to cut down on the number of climbs.  After turning in the second circle, he headed north along a conveniently forming street, running along the ‘Florida ridge’ (a north-south section about 100’ higher than the rest of the terrain) until time to turn for home.  Well done Henry!

Something my crewperson Scott Manley pointed out to me today that we competition pilots don’t always appreciate is how interesting the typical mass glider return and landing is to the crews and spectators.  We are always interested in how fast the launch occurs, but he points out that most if not all the entire fleet returns and lands in about half the time of the launch, meaning there is a glider landing about every 30 seconds for roughly 30 minutes – interesting.

Tomorrow is the mandatory rest day (special rule for the Seniors).  My crew is abandoning me for the day (got a better offer – a much better offer), so I plan to spend the day as a software geek and a wannabe book author.  Tune in Thursday for more racing action!




Posted: 3/15/2011


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