Saturday, February 11, 2012

Horsham Week Competition Day 7 - I won the day!

Now we're talking! 
I finally managed not to make all the mistakes from previous days again. It resulted in the daily win. I'm very pleased with that especially after the day before when I was already considering redirection of my interests towards playing chess or designing jewelry ;-)

ready for marshalling

The day started with very early Cu's popping all over the place and everyone was concerned about over developments in the afternoon. We could already see pretty high towering Cu's and some spread-outs over the Grampians.

task area looking brilliant

I decided not to wait too long and started my task shortly after the gate was open. It payed off and I followed a great street straight to my first turn not stopping at all for almost 100 km (!!!). This gave me an average of 127 km/h by then and I was higher than I started. What a run.

Cloud base wasn't really high (about 6000-7000 ft MSL) but this caused the clouds and therefore thermals being close together and enabled me just flying the lift without stopping. Half way down the second leg my thermalling was still only 6%. There was no streeting anymore.

I figured I have to fly about 300 km in 2:30 hrs task time and that's what I did. I basically flew a nice FAI 300 km triangle and finished 3 minutes over time. Another thing I got right yesterday - wow!

much better the the previous day

I ended up with 114,5 km/h off the stick with 11% thermalling and 9 thermals over the whole task. Not too bad for an empty (300 kg take off weight) SZD- 55. It would have been much better with water.
Not everyone was so lucky with choosing the start time and clouds already started spreading. This is also why my speed is so much better than others.
I was flying fast, following the lift patterns, didn't get low and kept the optimistic attitude till the end. It just had to work :-)

providing shelter for Foka 5 in case it rains during night

Yesterday's results:

and total for now:

Today is the last flying day and it looks like we'll try to fly. It doesn't look nearly as good as it did yesterday though ... We have an extremely short 2 hrs AAT task all around the place. The forecasts are very pessimistic and there is a chance that the day will be cancelled due to very strong winds. I really want to fly and could really need some more points.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Horsham Week Competition Day 6

One more lesson learned yesterday: there is enough energy coming through even under a thick layer of mid and high clouds in here. My mind still hasn't switched from European flying. By the look of the sky yesterday I was certain that this will be a matter of coming back home and not the matter of speed.

sky to the south

sky in the task direction

It still looked good in the morning and during launching but right after the gate was open it turned into this:

here we go again

It took me a while to figure out why my performance was so poor while Tim managed to fly over 90 kph. I came to the conclusion that it really takes a while to get used to the conditions in here and realize that as long as it's not bucketing rain there will be some thermals somewhere.
I was flying very cautious, staying high, taking whatever I could find on the way and desperately following all the sun patches on the ground. They then got less and less and I exhausted the last sunny climb to the top and headed under a thick dark layer.

this doesn't look like fun

I then discovered that it was working even there. No strong thermals but nice and regular 4 knoters. I would have never said that it's gonna be that regular and reliable over such a huge shaded areas. It's disappointing that it took me that long to make this discovery but as they say better late than not at all.

XT on the grid

Today will be tricky again. There is a weather change approaching from the SW and by the look of the sat pics it might get here in the afternoon and make it even more complicated. Geoff is predicting clouds and  OD's. The task is short and we should be able to work out the weather development and adjust to it. We have again a 2:30 hrs AAT (153 km - 422 km) to the north and east.

Results from yesterday:

and total after 5 days:

There are some more competition pictures on the Wimmera Mail Times web site:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Horsham Week Competition Day 5

Yesterday was an extremely challenging day for me. It was very difficult to choose the right tactic for the day. I didn't have problems staying up and moving around but I just miscalculated the development of conditions. This task wasn't easy since there was no clouds.

yesterday's grid

There were some clouds in the morning but disappeared quickly as soon as we started gridding and it turned blue. There were some very nice climbs in the blue and the first leg run was reasonably fast. I turned more less as planned and headed for the second area moving across the wind. That was where my troubles started.

on the grid of day 3 (by Steve Schneider)

I never connected with any gliders and was all by myself trying to figure out what was going on. I couldn't find the nice and smooth thermals I had on the first leg anymore. It was all broken up and I had to keep myself satisfied with 4 kts. I arrived in the second area and was heading toward my chosen turn point. This is when I met few Std and Open class groups. Most of the gliders were really low. This made me think that the area was soft and the day was probably slowly going to an end.

on the first leg

I was 88 km from home and decided to turn some 7 km earlier than planned and make my way back home with the groups that I've met there. I was 8 minutes over time by then and the way back home was supposed to be against 16 kts wind. I thought there was no way I can speed up ... but ... There was streeting in the blue and we all kept hitting very good climbs one after the other which in the end put me 7 minutes under time. Yes, I did it again although I really didn't want to.

final glide

I thought I had a fairly big margin on my final glide but then another surprise came across my way. Wind was stronger at lower altitudes and all my margins started to melt away. I kept going knowing that I can land straight ahead almost everywhere and in the end made the airfield completing the task.

Tim in D1

The results are as usual here:

The task is out for today. We are again going for a 3 hrs AAT (170 km - 400 km). This time though we are heading SE then to the W and to the NE for the last area. There is hope for some clouds and we'll see what I can mess up today ;-)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Horsham Week Competition Day 4

Well, my tactics seem to work ...
The day started up with two layers of clouds coming into the area from the south: a solid mid altitude layer and very low Cu wannabes. The morning briefing didn't give much hope for a flying day but the decision was made not to give up. Max was convinced that it will break up around 2 pm. Since he is the local weather guru we were all patiently waiting on the grid till Colin decided to send Keith up to do some sniffing.

blue holes = time to send the sniffer up

Keith is flying a PW-5 called the "fixed object in the sky" and it's well known that he can climb in almost anything. Bernie admitted he offered Keith a bag full of empty Coke cans to not find the lift. After a while we heard on the radio: 5 kts up to 3500 ft. Not really believing it could be true we had to get ready and go. I guess the bag was not big enough. My class was the first on the grid and by the time I was towed there were gaggles below release altitude. Great ... where are your 5 kts Keith? I think I didn't just say it to myself but also pressed the PTT button. 10 minutes later the sky opened up and I got a nice climb up to 5000 ft and crossed the gate shortly after opening.
I made a plan considering the strong southerly winds aloft and decided to stick to it. The first leg was booming. I was able to follow the lift patterns and stop only for the very good climbs. After 80 km my average speed was way over 120 kph. I was tempted to go deeper into the area down wind but resisted this temptation.

far from perfect but good enough

I turned as planned and continued the good run with crosswind. I managed not to get too low and was comfortable all the time working the best height band. I also tried to fly the lift doing it a bit faster than previous day. I was doing 80 kts and it worked for me. I arrived in the second area and made the turn exactly as planned being few minutes over time. I didn't notice though that the McCready setting was 0 ... I was playing with Altair to see how it modifies task based on McCready setting and just forgot to put it back up ... Bugger! Half way back home a nice lady voice from the speaker announced: "Expect early task arrival". This was when I realized the setting but it was already too late to do anything.

lesson learned: don't play with settings while on task!

I wasn't happy with that at all and finished over 3 minutes early again. There is room for improvement though and I'm not gonna make this mistake again today.

enjoying my evening beer with the boys

I mentioned the "Phil riding my folding pushbike" story the other day when we all ended up in the Emergency. A week and a half after he looks like this. Tess is a very smart dog and feels for him so she decided to use one leg less as well:

good dog

And here is the proof that my flying is moving into a better direction:

sunset at YHSM

I just got the task sheet for today. 3 hrs AAT (150 km - 370 km) to the NW and NE. It's windy on the ground and it looks like it's gonna be an interesting day again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Horsham Week Competition Day 3

6:30 am sky was blue, first Cu's showed around 10:00 am and at noon it looked like this:

grid on 26

Almost everyone thought we'll be practicing gridging today. Then the weather recycled one more time and served us the sky full of extremely flat Cu's at 6000 ft. I decided to experiment a bit and reduce thermalling to the absolute minimum. I ended up with a total of 9 thermals over 233 km that I've flown on task and the average glide was 24 km. My speed off the stick was 96 km/h. I should have been flying a bit faster between the thermals though. I think that the "flying the lift" worked out all right cause I ended up with only 18% thermalling. Weather should be similar tomorrow and I'll try to correct the mistakes I made today.

Here are today's results:

and total after 2 days:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Horsham Week Competition day 2

Day 2 of this years Horsham Week Comp is unfortunately as predicted a non flying day. We have a cold front passing through with extremely strong winds (43 kts on the ground) creating dust storms. It's a horrible experience to feel the dust between your teeth and have the whole nose blocked by it but there is nothing you can do about it.

"what you see is what you get today"

Mike - Safety Officer and tow pilot

Colin & Sel - CD & Scorer

Ziggy & Keith - polish glider lovers

Keith's T-Shirt

Horsham Week Competition day 1

The Horsham Week Competition has started. We had the first flying day yesterday. Despite the approaching cold front weather turned out to be better than predicted and we all had good fun flying.

morning of day 1 on the campsite

We had the same 3 hours AAT task for all classes. The first leg against strong wind was in the blue but the Cu's developing in the first area were already visible.

D1 & XT on the grid again but with different contents

Ziggy is not flying this time (he has to work). It is so much nicer and comfortable to fly knowing there is somebody waiting on the ground and will come and get you if needed.

No. 1 crew

I reached the first area without any trouble and connected with clouds. Some of them were better than the others but in general it was all working nicely and I was able to move forward (with 20 kts tailwind) staying high. Interesting, the life cycle of Cu's was fairly short but even the ones already falling apart were still working nicely. The 120 km run down wind was a good one. I didn't want to penetrate the last area to deeply cause I was concerned about my way back home against the wind and with the frontal clouds approaching. I turned with 20 minutes over time and ... had to stop only once on the 96 km way back. There was some nice streeting, no strong sink between clouds and I definitely had my final glide with a huge safe margin 65 km out. Although I didn't make the best speed (about 100 km/h over 300 km task) I enjoyed the relaxed flight. It was also my first flight in the 55 for a long long time.

flying doctors