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18 Meter National - May 16 Report

Today at the Pilot’s Meeting, while Frank Reid was giving his briefing, a shady character snuck up behind him with a bucket of cold water. At the fatal moment, the CD intervened and spared Frank, deciding that we would celebrate Frank’s birthday with a song, rather than a drenching. The shady hit man skulked away, his bucket still full.

After that we pulled a rabbit out of a hat.

Ward Hindman’s forecast was entitled “Adequate Soaring,” which was a step down from yesterday’s “Good Soaring” headline. We were to expect weak lift, few Cu, and thin, scattered high level clouds. He also told us to expect southerly winds at launch time, so for the second time in this contest we gridded at the upwind end of the runway and waited for the wind to come around.

CD Eric Mozer has an open mind about calling MATs in uncertain weather.  Unfortunately, his Scorer does not like them at all. Being a diplomatic sort, Eric listens to his Scorer, perhaps a bit more than he should. The result of this collaboration is a new task type, which we are calling the MTAT, the Mozer Turn Area Task.  In an MTAT, you send everyone to one or two tiny Turn Areas and then to a large final circle.  Like a MAT, this starts everyone racing in a desired quadrant and then turns them loose to make their own decisions about how best to accumulate distance. We called an MTAT yesterday, and it was generally well received. So we did another one today.

On the grid Eric told us that we would not launch until two conditions were met: an optimistic report from our sniffer, Jay Campbell, and a headwind for takeoff.  The proposal to perform an “elephant walk” was rejected in no uncertain terms.

As it turned out, we sat for a long time. The sniffer fell down, the tailwind persisted, and pessimism reigned. As time went on, Eric deleted one of the tiny Turn Areas and downgraded the Task to 2 hours.  Finally, the altostratus parted, and the relaunched sniffer had a mediocre climb. At the next protracted lull in the wind, Eric started the launch.

Once aloft, the pilots were heard moaning about slow climbs, stratus, reduced visibility, etc., but Eric would have none of it.  He surprised everybody by opening the Task at 3pm, but not before enlarging the one remaining tiny area (thereby converting the MTAT into a more traditional TAT).

In fact, the conditions improved on course and lasted a bit longer than forecast. This allowed all but one to get home, and all of them had a story to tell. Dennis Linnekin made a heroic save over the runway at Pageland. Dave Nadler finessed his way into a standing wave and reached 8000 feet. He then made a leisurely glide at redline for about half the course. Sarah Arnold kept looking over her shoulder wondering why she couldn’t see anybody.

When the dust settled, the young lady with the 15 meter wingspan beat everybody. Sarah’s crew Diane was proud of her daughter today. Rich Owen was second and Gary Ittner third.

The scoresheet shows only one FP today, and happily, no one received the CDP.

At the lasagna party in the Briefing Hangar, we continued the celebration of Frank’s birthday with an unlimited supply of ice cream.

Our forecast is for wall to wall rain tomorrow, so May 17 will be a rest day. This call was appreciated by everyone here, but especially by Jae Walker, who isn’t actually in the contest.  Jae rode his bicycle up Mt. Mitchell (elev. 6684) today.

-Shady Rick




Posted: 5/16/2016


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