Saturday, July 13, 2013

Medal and podium

As what will probably be my last post, I thought I would send a nice "good morning" gift to all our friends stateside who have followed this blog and have supported Sarah in her quest: There is always only one world champion, so when ties occur at first place, there is a formula to brake the tie and determine who is the champion and who is second place. Apparently, things are different when the tie occurs lower in the rankings. In this particular case there were two second place pilots, and after several meetings and discussions among officials and powers to be, a decision was reached that both were to receive a silver medal, and that Sarah would be awarded the bronze medal and third place in a 1, 2, 2, 3 on the podium. So, we had the pleasure to see Sarah step on the podium, the pride to see our flag fly at the ceremony for the Club Class, and the joy to witness Sarah getting her bronze medal. We are all very proud to bring one of those special FAI World Championship medals home for all of you who have been so supportive of Sarah. Enjoy the photos.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Landed out about 30 Km out

Landed out in a good field about 30 Km (~20 sm) away. Glider and Sarah all OK. We are on our way to retrieve her. Many landouts in the last few minutes (almost 7:00 PM). More when we come back.

About two third of the way at 17:45

Sarah is about two third of the way. Probably with all the late starters.
There are two landouts reported already. On the other hand, we just heard two standard class gliders calling 10 Km out.
The early starters in Club Class, who left about one hour before the gate closure, should be getting close.
The wind is howling, around 15-20 kt at the ground, similar to yesterday.

Mid-afternoon Day 10

Of course, all the leaders played start gate roulette, waiting to be the last to leave and have the markers ahead. In this case, it meant that they all watched each other and waited until the very last minute before the 15:30 closing of the gate. Remember that at WGC, the IGC scoring is used, and on a day like today, each minute may be worth about 10 points. Sarah is 8 points behind third place, 16 behind second place and 47 points behind first.

Since I did not include any photo recently, I thought I would show you our "little sacred place," a set of trees that we found to setup the hammock and that we reserved for pilot relaxation time between pilot's meeting and grid time. After coming back from the grid, it is literally taken over by the crew to do "important" stuff like checking e-mail, facebook, calling boyfriend or girlfriends, etc., as you can see on the photo, while the Team Captain has to monitor for the pilot's start, turn in the pilot start time to the office within 30 minutes, then check on competitors start time, and monitor the radio to relay any pertinent information or answer the pilot's inquiry, etc. So, typically no chance for a little R&R in the sacred place. BUT TODAY, the crew has gone to the end of the airport access road to try and get a glimpse of the Tour de France... Guess who gets the hammock today... :-)
I better go settle in that hammock before they come back. Talk to you later after the arrivals... :-)

Day 10 is on

They are in the air. All start gates are open. The Club Class is on a 197 Km speed task in the Southern sector. The wind is about same as yesterday, but the top of the lift in blue thermals is just a bit higher than yesterday, nearing 4500 ft.
The height of the finish ring has been raised by 100 ft for the Club Class today. I am not sure that this will change much, since it still is 400 ft AGL at 4 Km, which is probably too low to make it back to the airport in a 20 kt wind. The major twist for today is that the start gates for all classes are closed at 15:30, meaning that if they cross the line after that time, their start time will be taken as 15:30. This is the solution chosen by the organizers to get them away from the airport before the arrival of the Tour de France and associated low-flying helicopters in our close vicinity.
It is a blue day, and the last day of the contest, so we can expect gaggles again, and probably some intense games of start gate roulette.

Notes on yesterday

Just a few notes to explain the anxiety that you probably noted in my last post yesterday and that pervaded over the field during the arrivals and "finish" yesterday: It is not evident from the daily score sheet, but only six of the Club Class gliders actually made it back to the field. Their last leg was straight upwind with a wind at altitude between 17 and 20 kt. When the first arrival calls began, a few 15m crossed the finish ring, 4 Km out, and reached the field, followed shortly by the two British LS4 that have the longest reach of the Club Class gliders. All eyes then turned toward the Southwest from where the finishers would come. The last 3-4 Km before the runway threshold are fields, about 30% of which are now harvested, and before that about 10 Km of forest along the arrival course line. It was a blue day, so the entire fleet was flying in gaggles, 5 or 6 "packets" as they call them here. We heard a lot of "10 Km out" calls and saw waves after waves of gliders reaching over the edge of the forest and landing in the fields between it and the runway, some low enough over the edge of the forest that they must have been very relieved to see something else than trees under their wings and be able to land in a field. You can imagine that the sight generated some anxiety among the waiting crew.
Sarah, the two German Libelles, and Magali were in the last packet/gaggle; and obviously we were able to alert them. They elected to climb a little higher in a weak thermal, which drifted them back in the 20 kt wind, so required more altitude, etc., to insure a safer arrival to the field, and that of course cost them many precious minutes. Although they were a bit disappointed about what it did to their scores for the day, there is no question that it certainly was the right decision, as several others got unlucky in their landings. Among them our good friend and neighbor in the glider parking lot, the Australian Kerrie Claffey, who had a rough touch down in a field and had to be checked for a sore back at the hospital. She is around the campground and all fine this morning, although still a bit sore. The other is the russian pilot, Nina Shalneva, who had to be lowered down from her glider that luckily got caught in branches high in trees rather than percolating down through branches and impacting the ground. We heard this morning that Nina is also fine.
By the time of my post last night when we left the field, we had not yet heard about all the pilots and what resulted from the mass landings. The scores were not out yet either because it was unknown which pilots had crossed the finish ring high enough to get speed points, and which did not. I guess you all found out an hour or so later just like we did.
In retrospect, the day was clearly difficult but perfectly flyable. The wind was strong but the top of lift was about 4000 ft, and they all basically went around the whole task. The final glide in the strong wind was the key to the day's task. There was still plenty of lift to make it back to the airport, as several who elected to take a bit more margin demonstrated. Others either fell to a bit of sink in the headwind or just went for the finish ring altitude with insufficient margin to reach beyond that all the way to the runway. Those really are pilot's decisions.
We had a Team Captains meeting this morning, and all opinions basically were along the above statement. The weather today is expected to be similar as yesterday and a task will be called. The main goal of the meeting was to agree on a reasonable set of thresholds of time, altitude, wind, and lift strength that would support gate opening. The main issue is safety of course, including the need to have them well gone on task by the 3:30 - 4:00 PM time at which the cyclists of the Tour de France, and the associated low-flying helicopters, etc., will be in near proximity of the airport.
I'll try to post an update before going to the line if possible, otherwise talk to you mid-afternoon. Everything can still happen at this point. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

She is home

No preliminary scores yet, but just a note to let you stop biting your nails. She made it home, and in good standing we think. Scores likely very tight at the top again, and we think the gap behind them has now increased further. This looks like yet another day to "separate the girls from the women," as the local contest staff say.
I'll let you check the scores yourself a little later, as it was a long day and we have to rush and find somewhere to eat (it's already a zoo on the road to town, with many caravans already in place for the Tour de France tomorrow) and then get home early.