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Sports Class Nationals - Day 7 at Chilhowee

Day 7 is in the bag, and so is the 2011 Sports Class Nationals at Chilhowee.
The weather forecast for today was actually quite bleak at the 10am pilots' meeting (that s-apostrophe is just for you Manfred).  There was a visible alto-stratus layer above us, and more apparently inbound from the west.  Winds were predicted to be light out of the south-southwest, so there  wasn't much chance of the ridges working.  We knew we were going to assemble and grid, but there didn't look like much of a chance of launching or flying.  CD Rick Sheppe was reluctant to call a task in marginal weather on the last day, for fear only the "final four" pilots would be back for the banguet.
However, at grid time, the layer that was above us was off to the east, and the incoming layers to the west had miraculously dissapated.  For the moment at least, we had sunny skies with cu's popping over the high ground and over the valley too.
Launch started at 12:45, and we were all scratching around the Chilhowee ridge by 1:30pm.  The gate opened at about 1:45, and most pilots were on course by 2pm.  The task today was a 3-turn 2hr TAT, south about 10 miles to Sugarloaf with a 5 mile radius, north about 20 miles to Spring Creek with a 10 mile radius, and south again about 40 miles to Dalton with a 22 mile radius. The short minimum time and close-in turn areas was designed mostly to get everyone home for the awards banquet, so we started out with a heavily devalued day.
Out on course, conditions turned out to be some of the best we have had in the entire contest.  The high ground to the east of the main ridge offered start gate climbs to around 5000' to get everyone going, and then for the first time, we had some nice cloud streets setting up out in the valley.  Most pilots had no trouble making good distances for the 2-hour minimum, although conditions did get soft on the 3rd leg (from Spring Creek south into the Dalton circle).  The "Landout Nationals" did manage to claim one more victim, as Tim Larson (1FL) was shot down near Hardwick, a well-known Chilhowee sinkhole.
At the end of the day, Sean Franke showed how its done in an LS-1f by winning the day and clinching 2nd place overall (that's 3 day wins out of 7 for the Franke father and son team) with 48.53mph handicapped.  Robin Clark was second for the day and 5th overall with 47.35mph handicapped, and Karl Striedieck took 3rd for the day and 4th overall with 44.99mph handicapped.  Sarah Kelly (in first place overall by over 300pts) took it easy, finishing 6th for the day with 43.58mph handicapped, giving up all of 66 points to Sean Franke.
So, at the end of the 2011 Sports Class Championships, Sarah Kelly-Arnold (RK) was first with 5754 points, Sean Franke (HA) was 2nd with 5407 points (doubly impressive because he lost 300 pts to Sarah on Day 5), and Ryszard Krolikowski (RW) was third with 5386 points.
The awards ceremony and banquet took place in the pole barn/wind tunnel, and there was a real podium for the winners to stand on, courtesy of Jason Arnold's carpentry skills (it probably helped that his wife was the one that was going to occupy the top slot).  The banquet food was great, the beer was flowing freely, and most folks had an excellent time.
As we were waiting around for the launch to start today, we had an informal poll for how to tell if you are flying at Chilhowee:
1.  If you are 3000' above ground only 10 miles to the east of the home airport, and you are still scared to death of all the trees..
2.  There is a field with "Jesus" written in it, and it saves you.
3.  Thermal etiquette includes the folowing "The radio tower at the top of the main ridge has right of way in all thermals".
4.  Free dental filling removal during launches and landings, especially to the south
5.  Landout fields are smoother than the home runway.
6.  Contest launches start after the sniffer has been shot down (twice).
I'm writing this from my micro-castle, already mounted on the pickup for an early start tomorrow.  I'll be at home a day or two to see if I still have a wife, and then it's off to Mifflin for the Region 2 contest.  See you at there!

Posted: 5/12/2011


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