Rather a strange day today.  The forecast called for blue conditions, but with better lift than previously.  The launch was again delayed: lift in these unfavorable conditions takes a good while to develop.  Once things got going, the Club class did fairly well on a short task of 167 km: 31 of 36 pilots finished, and the winner – Uwe Wahlig of Germany – actually managed a speed greater (though not a lot greater) than the stall speed of his glider.  (Thus far, this is a notable achievement at  WGC2021.)

The 15-meter class had a longer task (but still rather short, at 202 km), befitting their presumably higher performance.  They managed just 4 finishers, none of whom can confidently claim a task speed above stall speed.  Matthew Scutter (aka Mr. SkySight – Australia’s only pilot here) finished second, but suffered a gear collapse on landing which he assumed must put him out of the competition.  Yet with the help of many – including some of his top competitors in 15-meter class – the glider was repaired overnight and is again airworthy.  I expect there are few world-level competitions where this sort of cooperation and mutual support is not only possible, but indeed routine.

Standard class, with a 171 km task, was the problem child today.  A few pilots started early, most notably Luca Urbani of Italy.  Most hung around the start for about an hour, then set off east into what was forecast to be a weak area.  It was.  The first half of this short (63 km) leg went well, but approaching the first turnpoint things got grim. Essentially everyone got stuck here for a looong time.  Some rounded the first turn, and just a few made the second.  In the end, there was just one finisher (Luca, with his early start – a risky strategy under IGC scoring rules).  Only one other pilot made the minimum distance that at least 25% the class must achieve for a valid  task.  Luca’s notable, near 3-hour flight thus counts for nothing.  In my opinion, this seems wrong – by finishing the task, he should have received at least a small score advantage.  If the aim of the World Championships is to recognize soaring skill, it just seems wrong to let a flight like this be flushed down the drain.

After 4 possible contest days, this contest is reminding us of the extent to which soaring is hostage to the weather.  On the 7 valid tasks achieved this far (of 12 possible, in 3 classes), the best winner’s score has has been 625 of a possible 1000.  I count 117 complete tasks against 132 outlandings (and I think some of the finishers with low-finish penalties were not high enough to reach the field, and must have landed close to home).

We all hope the weather improves