This task was in the Provence region of France and used new Condor scenery for that area called Provence 2. I liked the scenery a lot and just went out and flew the first leg taking numerous screen shots which are shown below.
The task was a lot of fun. I skipped the first two servers in the 1:30 time slot and waited until 2:30. This server was well populated but not overly crowded. I thought I did fairly well for the first 2 and a half legs but things suddenly went sour and I landed out about 13 km from the finish. This still put me thirty out of 58 as a lot of pilots didn’t finish, including Sandor Laurinyecz.
Date: Mon Dec 05 2011 13:30:00 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time) (05 Dec 2011 06:30 PM UTC)
Class: 15 Meter
Task: Bad Ragaz LSZE – Sargans Bf – Hoher Kasten Ber – Brunnen Bf – Zuerich LSZH – Bad Ragaz LSZE
The task yesterday used the alps_XL scenery of Switzerland which was very nice and very realistic! As you can see from the map below, this was not a simple triangle task. There is an extra turn point added, creating a sort-of figure 8 course.
The take off and finish are in the town of Bad Ragaz shown in the photo on the left.
I believe I probably had about my best result with this MNS Europe race. I posted 20th out of about 60 racers. I didn’t seem to make any major mistakes. I got some excellent ridge/thermal lift on the second leg a few minutes from TP 1. I also caught a very strong thermal not far from TP 2. After that I could only find weak thermals and that really slowed me down. Below, I compare my track with Sandor Laurinyecz and Dmitriy Balykin who finished first and second. Probably my big mistake was not to fly south to the ridge half way down the second leg where I had planned to go. I need to study more carefully though. I might have been better off to fly slower on the last leg and not take the extra thermal that I did.
I left work at noon to do the MNS Europe race today. The race was in New Zealand. It started in Omarama, took a short jag to the East, then north northeast to Glentanner south of Mount Cook. There was a little ridge going north where I found some strong blue thermals off certain parts of the ridge. Mostly it didn’t pan out though and it was largely a thermal race with thermals in the 2.5 to 3 meters per second range.
What was notable about my performance in this race was that I didn’t make any major mistakes except for the start. I crossed above the minimum start altitude and had to circle back and restart.
Some US pilots started up a new race series on www.gliderracing.com, the site that hosts the Monday Night Soaring Series. The U.S. race is held every night at 9pm. That’s usually too late for me, but you can download the flight plan after the race and do it offline. I did that this morning. The race was an AAT with a distance of 150 km and a minimum time to complete of 1 hour.
Below you can see the task with the two large 12 km areas at TP1 and TP2. The object is to fly as far as possible within the designated area in a time of one hour or greater. Your competition speed is calculated by dividing your time on course by the distance made good between the start, TP1, TP2 and the finish. In the graphic below, the solid red line shows my actual track around the course. The dotted red line shows the straight line distance between the extremes of my track. On TP2 I went outside the area for a few kilometers. That distance doesn’t count, so you can see that the dotted line stops at a point intersecting my track and the outer perimeter of the TP2 area before turning back to the finish. From this I can see that I would have been better off continuing south before turning toward the finish on final glide.
Here was my strategy and mistakes that I apparently made. The wind was from 316 degrees so I was flying directly into the wind on the first leg (TP1 is the upper left circle). Because of this, I wanted to make this leg as short as possible. Ideally, I would fly only to the nearest edge of TP1 (You have made the “turn” wherever you cross the perimeter of the turn point.) I didn’t do this because I needed to average 20 minutes or more per leg so that my total time would be equal to or greater than one hour. My time to the perimeter of TP1 was about 19 minutes but, because of flying upwind, this leg should take more time to fly a given distance then the next two legs. It’s OK to fly longer than the minimum time as long as you can maintain or increase your average speed. What you want to avoid is flying a shorter duration than the minimum time. If you fly less than the minimum time. your average speed will be calculated by dividing your time en-route by the minimum time, rather than your actual time. To avoid this scenario, I extended leg one a bit beyond 20 minutes and planned to fly deep into the TP2 area to extend my distance before turning on final glide for the finish. If I could have continued leg two straight to intersect the perimeter further south, I think I could have had a little better average speed. I would like to have been able to turn on final glide a bit sooner. I had almost enough altitude at the point that I turned East and caught my last thermal a bit outside of the perimeter. The problem is that I would have arrived early at the finish.
This was a fun task with strong and plentiful thermals. It allowed me to concentrate on my AAT strategy rather than survival.
It seems like I screw something up in this series of these races almost every time. Last week I was too high over the start line and didn’t realize it for a couple of minutes. This week I forgot to add ballast! It made for some great thermalling and I kept up with the pack for quite a while but it really killed my final glide and average speed. My average speed was not much over 100 kmph for most of the race. I ended up a little under 110 Kmph. Other than that it was a fun race although thermalling was treacherous with often six to eight other gliders in a thermal. I had some close calls and heard two explosions which must have been from a collision. This was before the start.
Winds were not strong but there was some ridge lift that could be utilized a long the way, especially the southern part of the first leg. There were some steep cliffs on the East side and the wind was from 328 degrees.
My thermal average for the race was around 2 mps but, without ballast, I was well over 3 mps for several thermals.
This was a really fun race but I screwed up the start badly. It was a regatta start which means that your time begins as soon as the start gate opens, so you want to cross the line as close to the opening time as possible. In other words, if I’m flying toward the start and 30 seconds before I arrive the gate is open, I will have had an elapsed time of 30 seconds by the time I reach the gate, so if it takes me 1:30 (one hour and thirty minutes) to complete the task from the moment I cross the start line, it will really take 1:30:30.
Anyway, I thought I had the start timed to perfection but after I crossed the line, even though I was heading on course for TP1, the PDA (flight computer) was pointing elsewhere. I stupidly didn’t put two and tow together and thought there was some malfunction so I continued on course for several minutes before I realized that I must not have made a valid start. I was pretty sure that I had seen a message that I had started the race but maybe it was for someone else. I was either a fraction early of I had climbed above the start max altitude of 1500 meters before I crossed the line. I should be able to determine that by examining my ICG file in SeeYou.
When I realized that I had made a false start, at first I was going to resign from the race, but a few seconds later I decided that I would race anyway. I’m glad that I did because it really was a fun race with enough wind to get some good lift on the high ridges. There were also some decent thermals and race strategy determined utilizing a combination of ridge lift and thermals.
My other big mistake in this race was to head for some lower ridges about half way along the second leg. There was a higher and steeper ridge to my right which I should have gone for instead. It turned out that the ridge I followed had only a gentle slope on the windward side. R. May passed over me near the end of the ridge. I decided to dump the ridge completely and was able to exit it to the right and point my nose down. If I had stuck with the ridge I would have had to fly much lower since I wasn’t far above ground level.