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18-Meter National Championships - Stars and Stripes Forever

What’s with these Canadians!  That has been one of the topics of conversion during the US 18 Meter Nationals.  It seems like the boys from across the border have found some holy water sprouting from the Great Lakes!  The pilots meeting started like usual, right on time.  Thanks John!!  After Richard gave the weather brief it looked like another fast day in central Florida.  Gridding was delayed to 11:30 due to the weak conditions immediately surrounding Seminole-Lake.  The sniffers got another work out again today as Jim Lee and Bill Gawthrop took their JS-1’s airborne to sample the air.  We finally started the launch around 12:20pm and the conditions were just starting to pop.  Right around task opening time, cloud bases were already around 6,000 feet and the lift was steady at 6 knots and getting better the higher you got.  Within 20 minutes everyone was on task and speeds were high on the first few legs.  Cloud bases were getting higher and lift was stronger.  I thought I needed to find a climb around turnpoint 3 but I was already at 5,000 feet!!  When the course went by Seminole-Lake for the second time, smoke had filled the task area choking off lift.  You had a decision to make at Grass Roots to the north.  Do you return early (like some folks did and accept a time penalty) or risk flying in the smoke and weak lift to the next turnpoint adding over 20 miles to your task.  You couldn’t see down track very far due to poor visibility so several people took weak climbs to stay high.  Unfortunately, there was a great climb at Green Swamp that got everyone home who made it that far.  Eric Nelson flew a flawless flight and traveled 243 miles at 76.63 mph.  Gary Ittner finished second less than 1 mph slower than Eric.  Jerzy cruised home 1 mph slower than Gary in third place.  The top 3 at the contest has not changed for a while.  Sergei, Jerzy and Dave have the overall podium right now demonstrating a combination of very good flying with sound racing strategy.  The next time SOSA does a racing camp, I am definitely going to go!  The Americans (this is the US Nationals), are closely spaced at the top.  Gary Ittner is in first but Eric Nelson has come on strong in the later part of the contest.  Only 36 points separate them and Robin Clark is right on their heels.  At dinner tonight with Gary, some one wrote on the wall, “You can’t drink all day unless you drink in the morning”.  Something tells me there won’t be much drinking until this contest is in the box.  I can tell you, Captain America (Dennis Linnekin) may need to brush up on his rendering of Oh Canada for the banquet.  Dennis could be the Secretary of State of our great country, but as a retired Delta pilot, I don’t think he could pass the background check.  I know I can’t! 

I feel like a winner tonight because everyone on this score sheet are good friends of mine.  I feel very lucky to be involved with every single one of these fine pilots.  On final glide today, Jerzy joined up on my wing (yes, he caught me again!) and flew the last few km home with me.  There is no greater honor for a fighter pilot than that!

So, tomorrow is the last contest day before we adjourn to the Mission Inn and Golf Resort for the banquet.  As it is tradition at Seminole-Lake, we do not share any results until Virginia does the big reveal at the dinner.  Do not expect a race report until late and there may be a few more misspelled words than normal.  As we were talking about documenting the banquet festivities, Ben Mayes (Team 98 Crew) was heard to comment “what kind of video are we talking about”!  You will just have to wait and see.  We hope the weather is beautiful where you are and we wish you were here! Good Night All.


Posted: 5/9/2018


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