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Region 5 East - May 8 - J4 Report

Today was a day that no glider should have been on the ground, in its trailer, or hangared.

While the contest has had some earlier weather challenges due to blue conditions and wind shears, today was a classic soaring weather day which rewarded all those who worked so hard the past few days. Nobody landed out, and there were smiles all around as pilots landed and opened their canopies. One guy summed it up with "A day like today makes us remember why we do this sport!"

Right at launch, a ballasted glider could climb easily in 4 knots of lift, and it built to 6kt in a few thousand feet. The top of the start cylinder was at 5500msl and pilots not accustomed to achieving such climbs and altitudes all week suddenly had to contend with that rule. "Uhhhh....was that 2 minutes under start altitude, or three?" One leading contender in the mixed FAI class told me he lost 5 minutes because he busted the altitude limit by 50 feet and didn't know it. Starts out the top and from the back of the cylinder were common.

Out on course lift was plentiful and often strongly turbulent, but also often large and smooth. One pilot reported an altitude of 8000ft and still climbing but left the thermal as it was getting weaker. (Out West guys can quit laughing).

The racing task had most pilots going deep into the first two cylinders (10 miles radius) to avoid having to go too far downwind into the third (20 mile radius) and last turnpoint. In addition, the third turnpoint was over mostly forested terrain with a rather large river meandering through it. Not a place you'd want to get low. In addition, the lift was softer here and that combined with a moderated headwind on final glide had even the faster pilots going only to the center of this last circle.

All the fly boys successfully came home today and to a delicious pasta dinner catered at the airport, with Rick Sheppe handing out instantaneous score sheets with each new flight submitted, and it was a festive evening. (By the way, the efficient organization of this regional speaks emphatically that Bermuda High is ready to host the 18m nationals next year. The grounds are in wonderful condition and even
surrounding tall trees have been removed from the perimeter of the airport.)

One of the last to land, Frank Paynter (TA)rolled right up to the Clubhouse and received an instantaneous beer from his crew and teammate John Mittell (BZ) upon opening his canopy. He then handed his flight documentation over to be scored like he had just driven through a fast food lane while his friendly competitors stood about and waited for him to be scored. Frank barely had time to stand up from the cockpit
before he knew his contest standings and his day's performance rating.

Coincidentally, his beermeister John Mittell had won the day again today in the FAI combined class, his second win in three days.

In 18m class, Jerzy Szemplinski won the day handily, and if you've not noticed, Jerzy's scores are usually a statistically significant range well above the other pilots in his class. He was 4th in the world last year (almost 3rd by 11 points), and watch for him to win as he competes for Canada in his native country of Poland in the next Worlds. The rest of us rinky-dink get to use him as a measure of our abilities against a world class pilot.

Rumors tonight of an impending weather system which might spell the end of this great contest which has seen 5 sunny weather soaring days and 1 extra practice day so far. Sunburned and tired (and happy) we will go to sleep tonight and wake to see what the weatherman will bring us tomorrow.


Posted: 5/8/2014


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