David Glover was his usual entertaining self at the pilots meeting. He always has a least one Jamie Sheldon joke to tease her, and I think she enjoys the attention. The meeting was over after just 1/2 hour, at which time most of the pilots headed to the scoring office to get their waypoints downloaded into their GPS's. There are 171 possible waypoints for this meet.
I don't know what it was like in past years since I did not camp here, but this year the mosquitoes are both abundant and thirsty. Just entering my tent at least three of the little buggers followed me in. I managed to vanquish all of them to what ever mosquitoes call the the next life as I did not receive any bites last night.
I had a decent night sleep so I may just stay where I am camped. The day dawned clear with an east wind lowing 5 to 10 mph. The pilots meeting today was scheduled for 9:30 am. The atmosphere is a little more laid back this year than last year.
The weather for today was predicted to be clear with lift at 500 fpm to 5500'. The task was from Quest to a waypoint called CHIN then to goal at ZHILLS (Zepher Hills). The course was to the west for 30 miles and then southeast for 30 miles to goal. They did something nice this year and they are having the rigids start before the flexwings. We (the rigid wings) also get to stage at the front of the line since we will be launching first. The mad dash for the staging area was not as crazy as years past.
While we were waiting to launch, they found out that the Zepher Hills airport (goal) was very crowded with the overflow planes from the Sun-N-Fun fly in. They changed goal to a circle one mile in diameter so we could stay away from the south end of the runway. Then a few minutes later they changed goal to a 5 mile diameter circle. What this does it makes it difficult to use our final glide computer to determine when we have the final glide to goal made. There was a lot of grumbling from some of the pilots. Ollie figured out that if you went on glide when the computer said you had -1900' to goal and the number climbed to more positive as you were gliding, it should work.
I was the third rigid to tow and was able to climb slowly to 3800'. The best position to be in (in my view) was to the north of highway 50. All of the rigids seemed to be staying to the south of the highway. This did not make sense. The starting line was a circle 25 miles from the first turn point. I found myself across the line at the start time and used up a lot of altitude flying back to re-cross the line. When I turned back toward the waypoint I was well behind everyone else.
I went ahead and flew to the north of the highway. I could see all the other gliders to the south of the highway. I flew by myself for the next 15 miles or so, just enjoying the day and not worrying about where all the other gliders were. The lift was 400 to 500 fpm up to 4000' and then would drop off dramatically, so I would leave the thermals at 4000'. At 10 miles from the turn point I caught up to lead gliders. I flew with Ollie many times for the next 20 miles or so. His glider has a Quest Air decal so it is easy to spot from the air.
Once I started flying with the lead gaggle, I found it a little to crowded for my liking. I decided to leave the thermals as soon as the lift started to slow down. Most of the pilots would take the lift another 500' and stay above me. There were several times I felt like I was pulling the gaggle from below. I was about third to the turn point and again near the front but lower than most.
I got down to 2300' and had to waste a lot of time scratching up. Most of the main group caught and past me. Luckily I hit a nice thermal that was 800 fpm up all the way to 5,000'. I went on final glide 10 miles out with a head wind. At one point I was well below my glide needed to make goal, so I made one 360 in lift. Soon I was hitting constant lift and I ended up crossing the goal line 1200' up. I could have finished anywhere from 4th to 15th. I was hard to tell because the goal was a circle and glider could have been crossing a couple of miles away. I am happy with the way my glider is flying. I adjusted the trailing edge again and now I have less bar pressure, but not too little, and I feel like I am able to stay up with the other gliders when we go on glide.
I was glad to cross goal so high because there was no designated landing area and I did not know if there would be a place to land. We were told not to land at the Zepher Hills airport due to all the traffic. There was nothing great at the goal line so I thermaled up a little and found a nice field 2 miles away. I had a nice landing there. I was the first in this field. Several other pilots landed there as well including Alex Ploner (flying the Atos VX), David C. (the French pilot flying the Tsunami), Johan Posh and a couple others.
Ollie and Stump, the two other rigid wing pilots I am riding with also made goal. Somehow Ollie managed to fly another 9 miles south while trying to locate were Mark and I had landed. We managed to get everyone picked up (we also have John, a flex wing pilot on the truck). We arrived back at Quest a little after 7:00. By the time I downloaded my flight at the scoring table, unloaded my gear, put my batteries on the charger, and worked on this report it was quickly approaching 9:00pm. Not much time to socialize. This is the case when the goal is away from Quest.
I don't have the background map on my computer, but you can get the idea of the task from my track log.