Monday 27 August 2018

Competition Summary

When I compare this year to last, the main conclusion is that I was in a good place this time. Whilst work is complicated at the moment, things are going well and I am less stressed. Also last year my mother was very ill and I was rushing about with that.

This year I was able to stay relaxed throughout the competition, even when things were going wrong in the air. I am sure that a relaxed mind translates into a relaxed hand on the stick and objective decision making.

The glider was also well fettled. I had cleaned the blow holes and the sealing was good. It went well. There were two JS3s in the class and neither out climbed or out glid me. All my instruments were working well and I was competition ready having just flown the Booker Regionals.

Looking at the two flights there are lessons to learn:

I have to be more patient on the survival days. Had I taken 1/2 knot to cloud base and made the same decisions thereafter I may well have got back on the first day. If I had, and scored distance points only, I would have been enough to be National Champion today!

I have to be true to my own self. Too often I fly well until I meet up with others. Then, thinking that they are more skilled or experienced than me, I have a tendency to change my flying style to theirs. This is a mistake if I am going faster than they are. On the second day I made up 20 minutes on Watty by half way then followed him a while! We flew the second half at the same speed and I ended up less than 2 minutes behind the day winner.

Finally, I need bigger cajones. My final glides are too generous.

So for next year:

1) I will practice ridge flying in weak weather. Especially on the Cotswolds edge. I think I will go down to Nympsfield a couple of times next season.

2) I will make sure I am well prepared again.

3) I am going to practice marginal final glides and tune my flight computer to better match the glider's performance.

That's all folks. See you next time.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Saturday Result

Good morning. At last I feel like a proper competition pilot. Yesterday pretty much everything went right!

The organisation set us a 400k TET MOT RAD CLH ANX AD2. I had never been as far W as Culmhead and didn't feel that is was the right direction. 15s were at the back of the grid but we got launched around 12:30 and the start line opened at 12:47 or so. The weather man said that the day would be over by 5pm so I wanted to start before 1pm. Unfortunately, it was a bit tricky in the start area and I fell down low and it took me an age to get back to cloud base. In the meantime nearly everybody went!

I started at 13:16, some 30 minutes after the pack and 8 minutes after Tim. I was so excited to get going I went in the wrong direction and had to throw in a 90 degree turn to the energy line. This line was awesome and took me all the way to Newbury with just two climbs and runs of 22k at 96:1 and 36k at -427:1 (I gained 280ft).

Around MOT and same again starting back up the same street over the higher ground 78k at 437:1 (costing just 600ft) 27k at 87:1, and 23k at 200:1 got me to Radstock where I had caught up a lot of the early starters and overtook Tim.

Then it was a matter of flying with the early starters DW and Y around the last two turns. Coming home was reasonably straight forward so I set off ahead with everyone following. A shower near Bristol was negotiated with a good climb in the rain at the front then an edgy final glide home. I came home a bit hot which cost me a place against Matt Cook and Tim, Dave Watt, and Owain Walters overtook me on this leg landing just ahead. Very happy with 4th place, beaten by Roy, Ed, and Matt.

This puts me 6th overall and is probably the final result as we expect rain today. My best yet. I will try to summarise the competition tomorrow.

BTW well done George at the Juniors. Top 10 is a good result.

Saturday 25 August 2018

Day 2 Part 1

Yesterday Friday we were hopeful of getting a task on a blustery and showery day. Unfortunately the organisation waited for better weather to launch us but the sky went to worms and we were scrubbed at 2pm. Not everybody was happy but part of the problem was the strong crosswind. Nearly all the tugs are tail draggers and the tuggies were understandably anxious!

Looking forward to a good race today, Saturday.

Friday 24 August 2018

Day 1 Part 6 Race Day

Yesterday we went racing for the first time in the competition. I say race but actually it turned into a survival exercise. We launched just after midday into a poor and deteriorating sky. It was important to get going quickly as the day was forecast to end early with a front approaching from the North but really tough to get above 2000 and into the start zone.

I was pretty much the first to start (and glad to), I dipped into the zone at 2,200ft and went at 12:54. First turn was NOS and I found good energy lines going over the Cotswolds but never high. I trickled along thinking that I would be soon over taken but also surprised how well I was running. Looking at the trace I never got high operating between about 1,800ft and 2,700ft but achieved many long glides and good L/D: 15 to 25K at up to 114:1.

Having dodged Hinton which was right in the middle of a street, I turned NOS OK but the weather was in at Rugby and we had to fly in and out of RNE in the clag. Later starters were not able to do this and landed out here.

Back to BUC and BIC where I got mobbed by the Standard class that was flying around their task as one! Now it looked really awful down track and I even considered flying to Oxford and round the S of Brize to get home.

Sneeking along low under 8/8 spreadout, but managing a couple of weak climbs, I found myself going NW. My plan was to try to get over the ridge into an area of sun.

There was nothing wrong with the plan and I did get there but just too low. I tried to use a short ridge at Honeybourne but got really scared. With no obvious places to go and now down to 600ft I decided to land. I was looking up at a great sky 50k from the finish and convinced I would be last.

As it happens only 2 pilots finished and I came 7th. Satisfactory result but I was disappointed I didn't get that last thermal to cloud base which would have got me home for third place.

Showers today.

Thursday 23 August 2018

Day 1 Part 5

What can I say? Rig, grid, squat, scrub.

Today we are between frontal systems. The rain has stopped and the sun is starting to peek through. If they can get us away early then we will have a race but we will be coming back into wind under a lowering cloud base and, possibly, dead air. My chance to shine?

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Day 1 Part 4

Same again, except 15s at the front this time. Set short task up to Banbury and back via Bicester then scrubbed. Half a dozen of us took a launch anyway and it was probably the right decision as there was just a knot or two up to a hazy cloud base at 1,800ft or so. 20+ gliders in the start zone would have been problematic.

A couple of Opens went on task and we saw at least one come back. Tim Jenkinson proved once again what an arse he is by barging onto the front of the launch line ahead of all those who were queuing nicely for a tow without the launch marshal's permission and then refused to give way when challenged. He thinks he has a chance of representing the UK in the British team but forgets that you need to be voted on the team by your peers. Even if he were a good enough pilot I doubt anyone is going to vote for him!

Rant over. More of the same today. On the upside, the shorter the comp the greater the chance of J1M doing well!

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Day 1 Part 3

Someone was wearing a T shirt that had 'Rig Grid Squat Scrub...Repeat' written on it. So it was to be. We were set a variety of short tasks then scrubbed at around 3pm. The Opens were sent on 150k to DID and back causing all to either land back or land out.

On the face of it Pete Harvey didn't go at all which means he is now 220 points behind Andy Davis. In this game at this level that probably is his competition done! I will update you when I know.

My favourite trace of the day above. The pilot scored roughly 35 wingspans distance for 1 point!

Tracey and I went for a drive down Waterley Bottom. Just a little valley near Dursley but might as well been Outer Mongolia! But right in the middle of nowhere we found a pub (closed Mondays). God knows how that works?

Played another 9 holes of golf at East Cotswolds GC. Naff course. May fly today?