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18 Meter Nationals - F2 Report

2013 18 Meter Nationals

May 11th, 2013 (Contest Day 4)

The truth is that Tiffany and I woke up this morning hoping to hear the rumble of thunder. The forecast, as of last night, predicted a 40-50% chance of showers and thunderstorms from 8am - 12pm. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) the sky was clear and the sun bright. We had boxed the glider for nothing!

CD Eric Mozer called a “shorter” Turn Area Task with 3:00, 2:45 and 2:30 options. By grid time (11:15) the upper level sky was still mainly clear and Cu had begun to develop in abundance. The sniffer was soon climbing thru 4000 MSL and the launch was called. I think many of us were still fairly surprised that flying conditions had developed and we were actually launching.

Once off tow (I was 3/4 full of H20), most of us seemed to climb fairly easily under ample Cu to 4,500 and later 5,000 in 2-3 knot lift. Once on task, the gaggle spread out fairly quickly as numerous “lines” were available towards the first turn area. I found several reasonable climbs (3-4 knots) and flew with a fast pack which included YO & JW (DJ started in this pack but soon left us all!). As we nipped the first turn area I found myself in a climb within a couple miles of the Darlington race track (I had no idea at the time). The parking areas were already half full even though the race was not going to start for 6-7 hours. Luckily for me, no TFR was in effect.

After the first turn I lost touch with everyone and was basically on my own for the remainder of the task. On the downwind leg into the second turn area I found several decent climbs and worked to the eastern side of the turn area. Then it was back into the wind for 40 some miles. Conditions were beginning to weaken slowly and spacing between the clouds grew significantly. I saw several gliders struggling low along the way. I had to work hard to make it 25 miles (and 40 degrees south of course line (upwind)) to a localized area of some very strong looking clouds. Unfortunately, once I arrived at around 2000 MSL the lift was fairly hard to find even though the clouds looked excellent.

Down to 1800 MSL, I eventually found a relatively “strong” 3 knot average climb and took it to 4700 MSL with OX. This got me to within 2000 feet of final glide. I nipped the second to last turn area and things began to look very challenging ahead. I had some doubts about getting that 2000 feet! The high cirrus had begun to thicken significantly and the Cu were beginning to get visibly ragged in the general direction required. Large holes had formed but a few clouds still looked to have some structure remaining. This required significant deviation once again.

After a long glide out into the blue to hit the final turn area I took 2 quick junk climbs (1.5 kts) to get high enough to connect with a small “street” and ran it looking for anything. This was basically the last cloud in the area.

Fortunately, I found a couple knots (3 at times) and stayed patient. I wanted to have some reserve for this final glide with absolutely nothing but thick overcast ahead. Somehow I fought myself up to 750 above final glide (3.0 MC) at 19 miles out and set off. I ran through significant sink on this long final glide and finished only 50 feet above minimum at 70 knots. A good result, but a few nervous moments for sure along the way.

DJ won the day and took the contest lead with an impressive 50.73 mph average. P7 was second for the day and moved into second overall with a 49.29 mph average. F2 was third with a 45.17 mph average. There were a significant number of land outs today with tricky conditions and numerous rain showers in the area by the end of the day. This has disrupted the standings a fair bit.

The good news is that the weather for the remainder of the week is still looking excellent. We actually have a good chance of flying every possible contest day! I am obviously a long way from Ionia:-)!

Sean and Tiffany

Team F2

Posted: 5/11/2013


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