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15 Meter Nationals - Contest Day 6 May 20

Hi race fans,

Yesterday we were sitting in the same system that we have been since Wednesday, only with predicted modest improvements. The chief weather guesser, Mr. Kellerman predicted that the boundary layer would be higher and therefore we should be able to attain 8,000 feet in some instances. As the sports class has now ended, we had only 15 Meter national tasks to ponder over.

When the task sheet came out, there were a lot of “wows and oh sh-t comments to be heard. The task was a 4 hour TAT with a nominal distance of 264 and max distance of 383 miles. For this to work, we were going to need the day to fire off much quicker than it did on Sunday, as it took some time to find sustainable lift on that one. Like a very well-oiled machine, this day did exactly that. The sniffer was sent up at 11:50, got off tow and immediately reported 3 knots up. No need to wait today. The launch started 20 minutes later and with only 1 class, took just 40 minutes to complete. The gate opened right after that and everyone busted out of here almost the instant it did.

This is where the special treat started for me. Being only a tow pilot, and not glider rated, I arranged for a flight with HW in the Harris Hill Duo. We parked the DUO at the back of the grid and as soon as my last tow, I parked the Cessna and climbed aboard to see what a real contest day was like. Everyone was worried about me getting sick, but truth is, I have never had trouble with this, and yesterday was no exception. We took the last launch, had a little trouble with initial climb, but once up we managed to start out the top of the cylinder and light out on course. This entire flight was an eye opening experience for me. First, I flew with a top rate pilot in conditions that sometimes were dam good, and other times we were low and wondering where the next thermal was. Some of the clouds were honest and some of them could win a prize at our local “liars and loafers” club. They lied, and when you got under them you did nothing but loaf. It was loads of fun for me to sit there and watch what a real racing day was like. I thoroughly enjoyed this and as you can tell it gives me a whole new perspective to report on.

We had an almost perfect flight into the first leg, but the leg between the first and second turns was a challenge. In truth, almost everyone found the same thing on this leg, and some admitted being low and in “where am I going to land” mode. Heinz asked me to start looking for fields only once, then managed a modest climb to get us out of trouble. We ran to the second turn, and had to turn and go back through the same troublesome hole to the third. Once we got through that hole, it was mighty fine for a long stretch as we saw almost the predicted 8,000 around Lock Haven. From there, we turned south to allow us a mostly downwind glide back home as the winds had shifted throughout the day to almost completely easterly. This is unusual  in this part of the country and a sign of what today brings, RAIN.

BB, John Cochran won the day yesterday, and CG, Chip Garner remains in the overall lead. There is much talk now of a US made glider winning the 15 M. nationals for the first time in a very long while. I will say that the night time contest banner about this has been entertaining. This glider has been called everything from the “chicken hawk” to the ugliest glider currently flying. With apologies to anyone who owns one, I tend to dis agree and think the PW5 fits that mold better, but they all get up and fly without a motor, and that is the main point. HW and I flew with Chip yesterday and the little ship really climbs well and does equally as well in a run to the next thermal. These guys are onto something and a win here should do some good things for them.

As you have surmised, the day has been cancelled and tomorrow does not look promising at all. In reality, we have had a darn good contest. The pre contest days as well as practice days were good. We flew 1 contest day, set for 2 then flew nonstop until today. I will report more tomorrow on the final wrap up and in the chance we fly, that as well. Quite honestly, after towing yesterday, then going on a 4 hour task, today is a welcome rest up for me.


More news soon

Brian Glick

Posted: 5/21/2012


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