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2019 Uvalde Invitational - Report for Contest Day 4 (Aug 8)

After discussion with the pilots and the encouragement of Steven’s father David, the contest will continue.


Contest Day 4 started with a layer of low stratus clouds which is the typical sign of good soaring weather in Uvalde. It could only have been a better sign had we seen dew on our windshield so spirits were high with the cloud ceiling so low. Interestingly, both SkySight and XC Skies were very pessimistic for the day predicting a mid-level overcast sky late in the afternoon with no potential for cross country soaring. We nevertheless opted to go with our hunch and set an aggressive task. We really enjoyed the Grand Prix task combined with a Turn Area Task from Contest Day 3 so we called another with the GP race on the front end instead of the back end. Today’s task would be a 271 km Grand Prix race on top of a 3 hour 30 minute Turn Area Task with a nominal distance of 621 km. We set 50 km circles around the last 2 turnpoints to give the pilots plenty of flexibility in the event the day did not develop like we felt it would.


The Grand Prix course, and the beginning of the TAT, was a 5 legged course of about 50 km’s each leg returning to Uvalde with a minimum finish height of 3000 feet. Each of the turn areas had a radius of 1 km so that everyone flew the same course and distance and with a racehorse start there would be a lot of interaction. Legs 3 and 4 of the task took the pilots into the Hill Country for the first time in the contest which generates a little bit of apprehension due to the rising terrain and less hospitable landscape but the lift proved to be strong and predictable. Dan Mockler flying “F8” crossed the GP finish line first there was a very close race between the two Arcus’ “G” and “MH” with Team Bennet / Krolikowski flying “G” nudging ahead of Team Huffstuter flying “MH” but a winspan. Next through the gate would be Mark Keene in “TX” followed by Bob Holliday in “3D”.


Crossing the finish line at tow release altitude created a bit of anxiousness as the sky was drying out as the day developed and the nearest cloud on course line was about 10 km away. Most of the pilots congregated under a single cloud and worked their way back up to near cloudbase before starting out on the next leg down to Glass Ranch almost 100 km away. The faster pilots were faced with the decision as to go deeper into this next turn or the last turn to avoid an undertime penalty – they conflict being flat ground now or clouds later. Conrad and I opted for a little of both and went about 15 km into the southern turn and headed north to the last turnpoint. These downwind legs at high altitude were fun at very high groundspeeds at times exceeding 150 mph due to the density altitude and strong tailwinds which did a lot to bump up our average speeds.


The last turn in the hill country had good clouds and we arrived about 30 minutes ahead of the self-prescribed “better be on final glide” time of 6 pm so venturing further north into the cylinder was appealing. Another 20 km into the turn we picked up our datapoint and headed for home with an easy glide in.

Posted: 8/8/2019


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