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Sports Class Nationals - Day 2 at Chilhowee

You know that story about how as a teenager your parents seem to be dumb as rocks, but they somehow get a lot smarter as you get older?  Well that was the case for the CD's call today.  I'm sitting at the back of the grid cussing out the CD for tasking us in a direction that looks like a straight 'death glide' under an ominous-looking cloud shelf, but by the end of the day Sheppe was looking pretty smart after all!

The day started with thick middle-level clouds obscuring the entire soaring area, with what appeared to me more of the same coiming in from the west.  The task call was for a 3hr MAT with  three assigned turnpoints.  The first turn was about 20 miles to the west (the afore-mentioned 'death glide'), then south for another 40 or 50 miles, then wherever we wanted to go to use up the time.

By the time the gate opened, the weather (and my opinion of the CD's IQ) had improved considerably, from downright gloomy to pretty darned good - cu's everywhere with nice black bottoms and bases around 5000-6000'msl.  Pilots were seeing 3-5kt climbs to above 5000' msl over the high ground, although the flats weren't as good.

The gate opened at about 1:30, and most pilots were on course before 2pm.  I was wandering around  trying to figure out when to start when I ran into a tremendous thermal.  Bottom-to-top average was 7.8kt - I gained almost 2000' in 2-1/2 minutes, going right throught the 5000'msl Max Start Height in less than a minute!  If there ever was a definite "START NOW!!!" signal, this was it.

The first leg was pretty much into the wind (about 7-10kt from the west) and there were some pretty good streets.  However, my personal experience was that they weren't entirely trustworthy.  I never saw another climb like that first one, but I was able to find climbs in the 3-4kt bottom-to-top average range.  The second and third legs were crosswind, and conditions seemed to get weaker as we went further souith, with cloudbases noticably lower.  Most pilots elected to head directly back to Chilhowee after the last required turnpoint, with the idea of tuning up our times on the Chilhowee ridge.  I almost landed out (again) on the way home, getting down to under 2000'agl before (thank you lord) finally corralling a bottom-to-top 4.3kt 3400' climb to 6000'msl and a straight shot to the Chilhowee ridge.  After that it was off to the races as the local ridge was working (not great, but certainliy ok). I did 3 laps to max out the turnpoints (11 allowed excluding the start and finish) to turn in a respectable 2nd place for the day.  Sean Franke won the day in his LS-1f, showing true 'Club Class' ;-).

No social event tonight, so I took Gary and Chris Carter to the local mexican resturant as partial repayment for Gary retrieving me on Day1, and to keep my retrieve Karma in the black.  We drank beer, ate very good mexican cuisine, and talked about gliding and 'Words with Friends' (an Iphone Scrabble app).  Several other glider groups were there also, so it was a pretty good time.  

Tomorrow looks like another good day.  The popular weather says sunny with mild winds, so we'll see.


Posted: 5/6/2011


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