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2019 Region 11 FAI Class - The First California Grand Prix Task

The weather prediction for the day was 1000 - 2000 ft lower than yesterday, with the stronger conditions out towards Air Sailing. With little option, the task committee called a one turn point MAT at Air Sailing. Once in the air, even the experienced pilots doubted a return from Air Sailing, so task B was declared in the air with a 13:45 start time. 

Task B was a what we are calling a California Grand Prix, as was run in practice on Monday: fixed start time, handicapped turn cylinders, first to finish wins. The task was to Hallelujah Junction with a large radius allowing a turn near the north end of the Verdi ridge, across the valley to Donner Summit, then to Mt Rose, with a second lap ending at Martis Peak rather than Mt Rose and finish. This would keep the gliders close to the airport for most of the course.

No one was able to get higher than the start cylinder ceiling of 12,000, most starts were between 10,500 and 11,500. There was quite a gaggle near the start and again at Verdi, then the gliders strung out a little acting as markers for each other. By this time clouds had formed on the ridge and over the White House and good climbs could be had there. The glide towards Donner Summit was in still air, but Hal Woodruff (HW) leading the way was kind enough to find and mark a good thermal going into the turn point. Again a still air glide over the airport and to the house thermals at the Hot Rocks. After turning Mt Rose, climbs were difficult to find as the day began to decay. A few found a thermal at Verdi, others carried on around the Hallelujah turn point and on to Donner Summit bumping through the small areas of lift. Hal's thermal of the privious lap was nowhere to be found.

That left most with not much better than a final glide to the airport pattern, the 15m gliders in particular arriving at the Hot Rocks too low to connect - only one 15m glider completed the task (Matt Herron, J3). The 18m gliders arrived with enough altitude for a turn or two, and several connected, took the Martis Peak turnpoint just beyond and finished. 

The finish determines the ranking, and it was Noel Wade (98) in the lead, followed by John Cochrane (BB) 32 seconds behind and Hal Woodruff (HW) in third by another 5 minutes. However Hal (he explained later...) was distracted by calling the airport tower for clearance, and neglected to mind the finish cylinder floor, finishing low by 584 feet. While perfectly safe (the airport is the finish and the finish floor is 1000 ft above pattern), the rules provide a time penalty for a low finish of 150 seconds/100 ft, and so his elapsed time was increased by 15 minutes. This moved him down the scorecard and put Jon Fitch (L6) in third for the day. 

Other finishers were Sandy Coleman (2XX), Matt Herron (J3), and the USAF team Duo Discus 4AF (apologies - not sure who was in it that day). All others missed one turnpoint, most of them the last one and were considered landed out. The rules give credit for distance to all turnpoints made, plus any progress towards the last one to determine ranking below the finishers. 

To be compatible with the SSA 1000 point scoring system, elapsed times and distances are entered into WinScore and the SSA system applied. As the task was a short elapsed time with many landouts (though all at Truckee), the day was devalued. Everyone enjoyed the task, it turned a day that might have been scratched into a fun and challenging task. This is the first time a California Grand Prix type task has been flown for points in an SSA sanctioned contest - all of the participants where positive about the experience, and would like to see it again.

For those interested, the basic rules are listed below.

- Jon Fitch (L6)


California Grand Prix Task Rules:

1) Course will be an assigned task with defined turn point cylinder radii for each turn point.

2) Each glider will have turn point radii calculated based on their handicap, such that the Raw Distance x Handicap is a constant for all contestants. Thus every glider will have a different cylinder radius at each handicap turn point.

3) No credit for distance or speed is allowed for any flight into the turn cylinders. The most efficient course will generally be to get one GPS fix inside the cylinder, then turn. 

4) There will be an 100 second elapsed time penalty for each 0.1 statute mile short of the cylinder wall, up to 1 mile. If missed by more than 1 mile, no credit for the turn point will be allowed and the contestant will be considered to have landed at the furthest point achieved on that leg (not to exceed leg length).

5) A specific Start Time will be called by the CD. A start before that time will result in a 10 second elapsed time penalty for every second early. Contestants starting on or after the Start Time will be considered to have started at the Start Time when computing speed on course. 

6) As handicaps are made up on each course leg, the first glider to cross the finish line (without penalties) wins. Equally flown gliders starting a the Start Time will all arrive at the finish line at the same time, regardless of glider type and handicap. For purposes of SSA scoring, a 1000 point system based on handicapped speed will be used. 

7) Contestants that do not complete the course will be scored for achieved distance after the finishers.

8) Finishers who finish below the finish line altitude limit will be assessed an elapsed time penalty of 150 seconds/100 ft or fraction of 100 ft.

9) Contestants must remain below the Start Cylinder ceiling for 2 minutes prior to the declared Start Time. A penalty of 150 seconds/100 ft or fraction of 100 ft above will be assessed. 

10) SSA rules regarding SUA airspace are in effect.

Posted: 7/17/2019


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