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Uvalde Glide 18M / 15M Contest - Aug 8 Report


Plenty of pilots were still raving this morning about yesterday’s great weather.  Several reported achieving their lifetime best speeds on a thermal task.  Ron Tabery (who had the best speed of any pilot) noted that on his long final leg he twice made the mistake of stopping to climb in 8-kt thermals – he’d have saved time by simply pressing on.  (It takes quite a day to make 8-kt thermals a bad bet.)

Weather models disagreed about today’s forecast.  The optimistic view said it would be much like yesterday.  Based on this, we were considering Assigned tasks with distances around 400 miles.  But another model (do we suffer from too much information these days?) suggested that cumulus clouds would be lower and dry up as the day progressed. All classes were thus given Area tasks that allowed for considerable distance variability.  At launch time cumulus were sparse and declining, making the flexibility of the Area tasks look like the right choice.  

I mentioned our dormitory accommodations in the SWTJC.  These have worked well, but not entirely without quirks.  One involved a showerhead that could not be made to spray water lower than a point on the opposite wall about 6 ft above the floor.  This was easily fixed with a large Vice-grip.  But we did wonder what the SWTJC coeds made of this arrangement – my limited experience suggests that Texas college women hold themselves to a very high standard of personal appearance. 

Some scoring quirks have also been sorted out.  It turns out that yesterday’s winner in 15-Meter class was actually Mark Keene (flying an ASW-27 loaned by Karl Striedieck).  He did 140.6 kph (87.4 mph) over 568 km.  And Ron Tabery’s speed in Open class was actually a trifle less than initially calculated (but still north of 100 mph).

Bernald Smith, veteran of many a World Gliding Contest, stopped by for a visit.  He was wearing a vest decorated with an emblem from the 1991 Uvalde contest, at which he officiated.  He told an interesting story from the 1970 contest at Marfa, Texas:  He was SSA President at the time, and during this contest helped with “scrutineering” (the pre-contest process by which gliders are weighed, measured and checked for rules compliance).  It seems an Austria SHK showed up with customized wingtips (this was well before the days of winglets, but glider pilots then had much the same tendency as today not to leave well enough alone). In several attempts, the wingspan consistently measured 5 inches above what the rules allowed.  Faced with disqualification, the pilot quickly decided that amputation was preferable, and Bernald was happy to help saw 2.5 inches off each tip.  It is said that he was duly nominated as president of the “Sawing Society of America”.

Compared to yesterday, cumulus clouds today were indeed sparse.  But temperatures, lift and altitudes were still good, and pilots managed to post some commendable distances and speeds.

Dick Butler was first in Open class with 85.8 mph (138.1 kph) over 348 miles.  In 18-Meter class it was Brad Edwards with 124.5 kph (77.4 mph) over 656 km.  And in 15-Meter class (with a few scores not yet calculated) Baude Litt sits at the top with 122.9 kph (76.9 mph) over 570 km.


- John Good

Posted: 8/8/2011


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