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Region-6 North - Day 2 at Ionia

When I looked out the window of the micro-castle this morning, I saw a gorgeous sunny day, with very light winds.  When I went to the 0930 pre-meeting seminar (this morning's discussion was about using SPOT trackers for soaring), I saw gliders being assembled right and left, and smiles on everyone's faces.

Unfortunately, weatherman Bob Fidler (F1) took a little shine off the smiles when he told us that there was a very strong inversion that completely ruled out cumulus formation, and that there was a good  possibility that we wouldn't be able to get high enough for a contest day.  

Out on the  grid later in the day, CD Andy McQuigg launched the first class (Sports class) and the rest of us got to watch all 15 or so Sports class guys stagger around the cloudless sky at release height or below, followed by at least three landbacks.  As time  progressed though, it seemed that the remaining gliders were having an easier time staying up.  At about 2:30, the CD decided that conditions had improved enough to launch the FAI class, so away we went.  Off tow, we were able to find 2-3kt climbs to around 4000msl, and the CD opened the start gate for both classes for a 1.5hr MAT with a single assigned turnpoint at Alma, about 30 miles to the northeast.

Almost the entire FAI class (and several late-starting Sports class guys) rushed out on course as soon as the FAI gate opened, as nobody wanted to try getting to Alma and back on their own.  The first glide out was 'interesting' as the entire fleet descended through 2000' agl without encountering anything to climb in.  Surprisingly however, we soon found a solid 3-3.5kt climb to 4000 msl again, and conditions seemed to improve after that.  Almost all pilots made it out to Alma and back in some sort of order, and the fast guys got in one or more 'extra' turnpoints.  In FAI class, local pilot Bob Fidler (F1) won the day with a respectable 47.53mph raw/41.83mph handicapped flying a LAK-17a, and in Sports class Eric Zapolski (V) won the day flying a Grob G-102 with 33.92mph raw/35.68mph handicapped.

This is the first contest to try the new 'Worst Day Score Adjustment' (WDSA)  rule, and it started showing up on the Day 2 scoresheet (the WDSA factor for a 2-day contest is 25% and goes up linearly to 100% for a 5-day contest).  So, the guys in Sports class with a total score of zero for 2 days got bumped up to 250 pts overall, and other scores were adjusted similarly.  So far we haven't seen any drastic changes in the overall standings, but it seems to make for more of a horse race in the top 3-5 positions.

John Iacobucci (NB) is a well-known local plastic surgeon and was unable to compete today due to prior surgery commitments.  However, he did show up after flying, complete with his signature bowtie (undone at the time).  I had never seen anyone who actually wore a real bowtie, and so I asked if he would show me how one is tied.  John  tied his bowtie expertly without benefit of a mirror, and even though I watched closely, I couldn't tell you now how it was done.  I guess you have to be a surgeon to tie one of those things correctly!

Dinner was at Olivera's again, and I continue to be amazed at the variety and quality of food available in what is really just a small-town sports bar and restuarant.  My crew person Dan Harder had tiramisu for dessert and said it was wonderful.

Anyway, we now have a valid contest with two days in the bag, and we have two more shots at a third (and  possibly a fourth) day.  Stay tuned!


Posted: 6/2/2011


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