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Region 5 North - Day 4 at Perry and final report

I'm writing this from my home in Columbus, OH after starting from Perry this morning about 6am.  Last night featured a relaxing pizza and beer dinner with the Tylers and some of us that decided to leave Sunday morning instead of Saturday afternoon.

Day 4 at Perry dawned with heavy fog over the field, but with some encouraging but confusing air mass predictions.  It was either going to be real good or real bad, or somewhere in between.  We all assembled and gridded, and the FAI class pilots were all over the map in terms of ballast loads - nobody had a clue.  By grid time the fog had cleared off and some cumulus-like objects were seen to pop up and disappear *very* quickly - like a 2-minute cycle time or something.   The ones that lasted more than a couple of minutes were also being torn up by a fairly significant wind out of the south - ouch!

Amazingly, conditions had improved by 1:30 or so to the point where CD Ray Galloway elected to launch the first class on the grid, in this case the 18m guys, and most of them actually stuck (we did have at least two relights in the first two classes).  My class (15m) was at the very end of the train, and so we weren't launched until almost 3pm (with a predicted end of the day at 5pm - eeeks!).  Std/15m had a 2hr TAT east to Dry Swamp with a 5m radius, south to Allenday with a 20m radius, north to Ernies with a 10m radius, and then home.  18m had a 2hr TAT east to Orangeburg with a 10m radius, South to Barnwell with a 10m radius, northwest to Aiken with a 10m radius, and back home.  Sports had a 2hr MAT with Williston (15m south) as the only mandatory turnpoint.

With such a late launch, there wasn't much in the way of start roulette today.  Everyone basically started as soon as they could get altitude; no one wanted to be caught out on course when the day died.  In 15m I started out the south side of the cylinder and didn't find anything I could circle in until all the way into the first circle.  By then I had dumped all my water and was wondering if I could make it to the Dry Swamp airport to land.  As I am circling at 1000'agl in  0.5kt getting farther and farther from the airport, I see XC (Sean Murphy) circling below me but another mile or so closer to the airport.  Amazingly, Sean sees me circling and flies downwind *away from the airport* to my thermal. Fortunately we manage to make the thermal work, at least enough so we can go on down course.

Almost everyone struggled, and we had a number of landouts in all classes, but somehow the fast guys managed to decode the weather.  There was some streeting, and if you could figure it out (I couldn't) then you could do well.  In 15m BB (John Cochrane) showed us how U.S. Team members do it with a 65mph run, 5mph faster than 2nd place 5E (Erik Nelson).  In 18m class the scores were closer, but maybe that's because there were more U.S. Team members in that class ;-).  In Standard class, 7K (Mark Keene) won the day with almost 60mph, followed closely by XM (Mike Smith) and TS1 (Tony Smolder).  LBL (Baud Litt) who was in 2nd place overall after Day 3 went all or nothing and paid the price, landing out and dropping to 5th overall.  In Sports, RK (Sarah Kelly-Arnold) won the day again, protecting her 1st overall position by following 2nd overall RF (Robin Clark) around.  Robin said later that in trying to get away from Sarah, he almost landed them both out!

Of the 4 contest days at Perry this year, not one of them was a 'full ballast slam-dunk day'.  Every day presented us with a new and different weather puzzle to solve, and the champions in each class showed the rest of us how it is done; they solved the puzzles each day and made it work consistently in very difficult conditions.  BB (John Cochran) took the 15m title, 7K (Mark Keene) took Standard, RK (Sarah Kelly-Arnold) took Sports (winning every day!) and XG (Jerzy Szemplinski) took 18m (only 27 points ahead of Dick Butler) - WELL DONE!!!

I can't say enough about the facilities and organization associated with the Perry contest.  Al and Rhonda Tyler have such a beautiful place and the rest of us are so grateful that they open their home up to us every year.  Not to mention the absolutely first class contest staff, with top-notch tow pilots from all over the east coast, the superb line crew, Leo and Pat Buckley staffing the scoring shack and retrieve desk respectively, and Patty Smith as Rhonda's alter ego at the CM slot.  And Ray Galloway wasn't too shabby as CD either!

As Al and Rhonda said as we were leaving Perry, "Y'all come back next year!"


Posted: 4/24/2011


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