2000 Sports Class National Contest
by Brian Case
Saturday July 1st Pre-Practice Day.
Today my goal was to attempt my Diamond Goal Badge flight. This is a 300km flight for which I must declare my destination. I initially chose to fly a triangle from Ephrata to Chelan to Davenport and back to Ephrata for a distance of 310km. After discussing the flight with some local pilots I decided to modify the flight to Ephrata, Waterville, Davenport, Ephrata for 307km. Both my observer (Tom Dixon) and I are new to using a data logger for recording the flight. We decide to make the attempt if we are really lucky we might do everything right for me to get my Diamond Goal Distance. I launched at about 1:00 and struggled for about an hour to get up to altitude, not uncommon for the day. Finally I reached cloud base at about 9000ft msl but was now 10 miles from the Ephrata airport for which I had to fly over to start the task.† I raced in over Ephrata and headed out for Waterville. I had a good run under a street of cloud until about 10 miles from Waterville, which was in the Blue. From about 9K I left the clouds, turned Waterville and head back for the clouds. I decided to deviate south a bit to head for a Dust Devil. At about 2000 AGL I finally contacted the Dust devil, which was rough, and hard to work, I stuck with it until I was about 4K AGL and then headed for the cloud. I worked some marginal lift under the clouds and then finally hit a good thermal that took me up to about 9K at about 6knots. After that is was just fly the cloud street downwind to about 20 miles from Davenport. Here the cloud street turned north while I wanted to go east. There were a few small clouds on course to Davenport that were working but not very well and I bounced from one small cloud to other and finally made it to Davenport which had a good cloud there until just a few minutes after I got there at which time the cloud disappeared. I headed back up wind to the west toward Wilber. This is where the Cloud Street began and I could also see some dust devils on the ground. It was slow but I never got very low working my way back to Wilber, Just south of Wilber I contacted a 6kt Thermal to 9500msl and headed down the cloud street to Ephrata. The Street wasn't working very well but was giving some small bumps to cruise through. At this point my computer said I need another 5000' of altitude to make it back to Ephrata. By the time I got to Wilson Creek I was down to 2500 AGL But only needed 2500ft more to make Ephrata. I finally contacted a 3kt thermal that got me just high enough to make Ephrata. I flew over the Ephrata airport at about 6:30 and did an awful 'bounce' crosswind landing. Oh well I have 13 more days to practice. After reviewing the flight data It appears I messed up the flight declaration in the flight recorder. I thought I had changed my declaration from Chelan to Waterville but it appears that this never took in the Flight Recorder. So perhaps I will try the flight again tomorrow.
Sunday July 2nd 1st Practice Day. 175 miles - 58 mph
Today the task was a 3 hour post task with a mandatory 1st turn point of Mansfield. Like yesterday getting up initially was a bit of a challenge but eventually I made it to cloud base of about 8K. I was about 7th or 8th through the start gate and headed out on course. Climbs seemed to be only about 3-5kts but I made reasonably good time to Mansfield. I headed for Chelan again under good clouds and plenty of lift. After turning Chelan I spotted a hang glider thermaling about 1000 feet above me. I joined him and caught up to where I could see his face shield. I really didn't want to climb through him so I left on course for Waterville still under good lift. I turned Waterville at about 7k and leaving contacted 9kt average thermal that had the vario pegged most of the time. This was the best thermal of the day and it took me to 10k in just a few minutes. I headed for Grand Coulee Dam. Still under good cu's and lift until about the last 10 miles to Grand Coulee. Along the way I passed Steve Northcraft in SN as he turn Mansfield. The last 10 miles to Grand Coulee were pretty much a glide. I turned at Grand Coulee and headed back for some clouds. I was now getting quite low and the terrain below is not very landable. My computer told me that I could get 6 miles from Grand coulee and with 4000ft msl still make it back to the airport so this was my cut off point at which I would have to return Grand Coulee and land. At about 5.5 miles and 4500 feet I contacted a 3-4 kt thermal that took me up to 7k and I was able to continue on course. Halfway back to Mansfield I contacted a thermal that took me to 10.5k and then back to Mansfield and then headed back to Ephrata. Just past Mansfield I climbed back up to 9.5K and by slowing and climbing under the clouds my computer finally said I could make it back to Ephrata with and ETA of about 2 hours and 50 minutes. I decided that If I contacted a good thermal back to about 10.5K I might try going to Waterville or Quincy to extend my time past the 3 hours and give me some more miles. Halfway back to Ephrata I thought I had found the good thermal but it didn't last long and only took me back up to about 8.5k. At this point the computer said I had about 1500 ft extra but my ETA I would only be a couple minutes short of the 3 hours. So I bumped the speed up to about 100kts and headed for Ephrata. Three of us where finishing at almost the same time I went through 3rd the 1st one was very low and had to land immediately. The 2nd airplane and I were about the same level but he was quite a ways ahead of me and was an open class ship having much better performance than mine. He offered to let me land next, I did a short pattern and landed. The landing was much better than yesterdays and my crew was happy to see me stop just in front of our tie down spot, meaning they did not have to push the glider very far.
Monday July 3rd 2nd Practice Day.. -Rained out did not fly
Today we woke up to raindrops falling outside the window. The drive to the airport for the pilots meeting confirmed overcast skies and scatter rain showers. The pilotsí meeting was basic a description of what we already knew and a review of yesterdays flight. It was noted that a few pilots were finishing to low over the ramp area. Also since not everyone actually did an official start there was no score for the day. I later visited the turn point data personnel and verified that he was able to read my data. It was decided that they would decide at noon as to whether or not fly. At noon the decision was to fly if you want the gate will be open but it will not be a formal practice due to the rain and high winds. The winds picked up even more shortly after the noon meeting and several thunderstorms were noted to be in the area. Most pilots opted to stay on the ground; many even put the aircraft back in the trailers to protect them from the wind and storms. About 3 or 4 gliders did launch however the only stayed up for a short time. I decided to go to Moses Lake to buy some miscellaneous items for my glider. I returned to the airport, installed a relief system into my airplane and pumped up the tire. Then I sat down in my van and wrote this while it proceeded to rain again. At 7:30 there is a safety meeting for all the pilots. The weather forecast for tomorrows say more of the same, we certainly hope the weather guy is wrong this time
Tuesday July 4th 138 miles at 44mph. Ephrata-Odessa-Davenport-Ephrata.
Today brought a little bit of everything. Standing on the launching grid we could see Blue Holes, Scatter Cu, Over development, Lenticulars and Thunderstorms. I launched late in the starting grid and the overcast was overtaking the airport quickly. Fortunately it had a fair amount of lift under it even if it was only 3-4kts. I got up fairly quickly with a ton of gliders orbiting close to the Initial point waiting for the start gate. When the gate finally opened many rushed for the gate I waited for a few minutes, but like everyone else wanted to get started and away from the airport and the overcast. I must have waited just a bit to long because as I approached the gate about 4 of us were going through it and the gate missed nearly all of us. So I went back and joined the gaggle of gliders and climbed back up high enough to go through the gate again. This time they saw me and I headed out on course, the 1st thermal was almost as bad as the gaggle at the initial point. So I climbed enough to continue on course. The next thermal only had about 3 or 4 gliders and the next only 1. I headed out to Odessa at 1st and then changed my mind to go to Wilber and then changed back to Odessa.† After Odessa went to Davenport and then back for Ephrata. Thermals average about 3-4 kts for the good ones and plenty of 2kt thermals with the exception of few very quiet areas. Cloud base was about 7K and later in the day they were scattered all across the area with only a few over developed areas and blue holes. I actually claimed Wilson Creek as a turn point but this added only about .1 miles to my distance. I probably would have been better off to have skipped it. At Wilson Creek I hit a 5-6kt thermal that go me plenty high for the final glide and a raced for Ephrata for the finish. About half way there I realized my computer said I was a 1000 feet low and slowed way down. Then I figured out that I had the McCready setting up at 8. I moved it to 2 and I suddenly had adequate altitude to finish at a moderate speed. The Finish and landing went as planned and I stopped near the tie down, pleasing my crew once again
Wednesday July 5th 135 miles at 45mph. Ephrata-Wilber-Odessa-Dry Falls-Ephrata.
We woke up to blue skies today. A 3 hour post task was called with a Mandatory 1st Turn point of Wilber. I like the MFT's because it provides lot of aircraft on the same course to serve as markers for thermals. By noon clouds where popping up all over and the 1st aircraft launched reported a 7kt thermal. I launched near the back of pack again but quickly found a good thermal a shortly reached cloud base of about 8K with about 15 minutes remaining before the Start Gate opened. So I head out on course mostly to get away from all the other glider hanging around the airport. I found very little lift and shortly returned to the house thermals around the airport. I again climbed to cloud base and waited around for the start gate to open. When it opened I quickly headed for the Initial point but so many aircraft where calling IP that I just flew on by and tried to find another thermal to climb back up high enough to start again. I eventually found the thermal and headed for the gate again it was quite busy but I managed to sneak through Inadvertently cutting only one other aircraft off. Once through the gate I quickly found a thermal but it was only about 2kt and I could see the other gliders in another thermal only about a mile away I moved over to it and found about 4kts to near cloud base. The top of the thermal was getting quite crowded so I left a bit early. The trip to Wilber went quite well and I thought I was making good time. I then turned back to Dry Falls hoping to catch some good thermals that would be marked by other sailplanes still headed for Wilber. About half way there I decide it would be better to try for Odessa due to better looking clouds that way and the fact that I had flow for quite a distance to Dry Falls without any lift. In hind site I probably should have continued to Dry Falls as the detour slowed me down quite a bit. From Odessa I returned to Dry Falls which was out in the open a for the last 5 miles to the turn point. As I left the last cumulus cloud I topped out at about 9200 feet which put me only about 2500 feet short of a final glide back to Ephrata. I was only at about 2 hours and 40 minutes at the point. I turned Dry Falls and head for Ephrata I found a thermal just out of Dry Falls that took me up to about 8k I between this and slowing down for some weak lift I was now only about 1000 ft short of final glide. I had a 1000 foot safety factor but I really did not want to use it to a rolling finish at the airport, since the 4 miles around the airport are quite glider unfriendly and the safety factor is to keep me out of that area. After flying for several miles with the computer varying from a couple hundred feet to low to a just enough to squeak in to Ephrata I hit a 3kt thermal that gave me the last 1000 feet I need to comfortably make it to the airport. I should have climbed just a bit more my finish was so slow that I had 3 planes pass me through the finish gate, including a PW-5. I had 4 aircraft landing in front of me I hit a couple kt thermal near the base turn and decide to do a 360 to give them time to clear the ramp. I then headed in, I had difficulty getting slowed down for the approach and touched down at about 50 kts and then bounced about 4 feet the second landing was more civilized but I did land about 2/3's the way down the ramp. My crew wasn't to upset at me and I then learned we were landing with about a 10 kt tailwind
Thursday July 6th 153 miles at 40mph. Ephrata-Mansfield-Chelan-Waterville-Dry Falls-Mansfield-Ephrata.
Today started with mostly blue skies with a few cuís off in the distance. A 3-hour POST task was called with a launch time of 12:00. At noon it was still mostly blue with plenty of cuís out of reach to the north. A sniffer was launched and he was able to maintain about 3500ft but was unable to climb. So we waited for about a half and hour until the sniffer finally climbed above 5000 ft. We ended up launching at about 12:30. After getting off of tow I found a very weak thermal that quit almost immediately. I was down to 1000 ft AGL and heading back to the airport when I finally contacted a thermal that turned out to be pretty decent averaging 2-3 kts to 6000 which was about cloud base. I headed for the start gate immediately even though I was not very high. I had little problem going through the start gate and hit a good thermal back up to cloud base at 6k and headed out on course. The trip to Mansfield went quite well and cloud base raised up to about 7k. At Mansfield I noticed a glider had landed there. I decided to head to Chelan, which had some good cuís over it. Again the thermals were good and the flight to Chelan was uneventful. Chelan itself was out in the blue and I had to leave the clouds to turn there. I then head south to Waterville, which had a nice street of clouds filling in between Chelan. I turned toward the street and headed out. Before I reached the clouds I spotted a hang glider thermaling below me. I joined in above him and found that he had a nice 5kt thermal cored. He caught up to and passed me in the thermal although I caught backup at the top of the thermal. I found that with 10 deg of flaps I could slow down and almost thermal with him. I gained 4000 feet in this thermal and topped out at 9500ft. I then turned Waterville and headed down wind for Dry Falls. I made good time to Dry Falls and noticed another glider had landed in a field about 3 miles short of the turn point. I then headed for Mansfield and made good time it was getting a little more difficult to climb but still managed to climb to cloud base just before turning Mansfield. This put me about 4000 ft low for a final glide to Ephrata. After Turning Mansfield I deviated east a bit to the cloud and found a rough 3 thermal that gave about another 2000 feet. I then moved over to another thermal where a couple other gliders had climbed a couple thousand feet higher than I was. However when I got there I could only find broken fragments of lift. I also discovered I had about a 20kt head wind back to Ephrata. I continued on to some more broken cumulous clouds hoping to find a good enough thermal to get the 2000 feet I need to make it back to Ephrata. I didnít have very good luck at this until I was about 20 miles from Ephrata. Here I managed to get another 1000 feet. I wanted more but the thermal broke and I was getting blown downwind faster than I was climbing so I head out back to Ephrata. Keeping it fairly slow to conserve altitude. What I needed was another 500-ft buffer for a rolling finish. About 12 miles out I found another thermal that gave me the 500-ft I needed. I continued on for Ephrata expecting a rolling finish. About 4 miles from the airport I hit some strong lift that I bumped along under to get another 3-400 feet, enough for a flying finish. I circled around after passing through the finish line, made a close pattern and landed short for my crew with a decent landing. In review it appear just getting back to day was a pretty good feat I know of at least 6 aircraft landed out (or abandoned the task by starting their motor). I am not sure how many of these were flying in the sports class. I averaged somewhere around 40mph for about 158 miles. I know of at least 2 other aircraft I believe I beat today. But we will see tomorrow when the post the scores.
Yesterday I placed 24th and maintained my overall position of 17th
Friday July 7th 175 miles at 44mph. Ephrata-Mansfield-Chelan-Waterville-Grand Coulee-Mansfield-Ephrata.
Today brought clear blue skies. The standard 3 hour POST task was called. I was closer to front of the starting grid today. The standard launching order has been World Class first, Sports Class Second and the Open Class last. A PW5 was launched for the sniffer again today. At 1st he was able to only maintain release altitude. After about 30 minutes he final managed to climb to about 5K, and they launched the rest of the World Class Gliders. They had little trouble staying up so they began launching the sports class. At this time one of the PW5ís did fall down and had to launch again. I was wishing I were farther back in the grid so that I would have more markers to tell me where the lift was. As I was expecting it to be a bit difficult to climb. As it turned out I released right in a good thermal and climbed up to about 6K almost immediately. By the time I reached 6K there were probably 10 other gliders in the same thermal with me and as it got crowded at the top I moved around to find another thermal. After working a few 1-2kt thermals I moved North to where a bunch of gliders where now thermalling. I came in on the bottom and eventually worked my way up to about 6500 feet. The gate opened and I headed for it and went through, gliding back up onto the ridge I was down to about 4000 feet before I hit another thermal. I finally contacted a decent thermal that took me to 8500 feet. I then headed out on course and shortly contacted another good thermal that took me to 9700 feet and proceeded on course to Mansfield between 9500 and 6000 feet making reasonably good time. At Mansfield I turned and headed for Chelan again with good lift and then on the Waterville. Just out of Waterville I hit the best thermal of the day that averaged up to 8kts and took me to 10500ft. I proceed back to Mansfield but was only about 1 hour and 20 minutes into the flight. Yesterday and today Waterville, Chelan and several other turn points to the West have been prohibited for the last turn point. The thinking being that this will keep most of the gliders going through the finish gate the same way. It works but it does make deciding on the last turn point a bit more difficult. At Mansfield I decided to go on to Grand Coulee and not declare Mansfield as a turn point. The flight to Grand Coulee did not have as many clouds and I found very little good lift. After turning Grand Coulee I turned back to Mansfield since it had the best clouds of anywhere. I managed to find myself quite low (1200 AGL) for the glide back to Mansfield and this is the leg that really hurt my speed. I could only find 1-2kt thermals and they wouldnít last very long. Finally just before Mansfield I managed to work my way up to 7500 in a 2-3kt thermal. I was again now only about 2000 feet short of a final glide and turned Mansfield and headed for Ephrata. I finally found another 2-3kt thermal after trying several that never really panned out. I finally had the 500 feet I need for a rolling finish and headed out on course. It made me feel a little better to see 2 other gliders thermal several thousand feet below me. Shortly after announcing that I was final glide back to Ephrata I hit a 6kt thermal and took to 1000 feet. I decided I didnít want to do another low energy finish and upon leaving the thermal flew back to Ephrata at 120 kts. My time was exactly 4 hours and I flew a distance of 175 miles for a speed of about 44mph. Well at least I am staying pretty consistent on my speeds. The landing was one the best I have done yet, nice and slow and stopping right near my tie down
Yesterday I came in 13th which bumped me up to 14th place.
Saturday July 8th 142 miles at 52mph. Ephrata-Wilber-Davenport-Ephrata.
The weather this morning was several layers of hi cirrus and the prospect of flying today was not very positive. The weather briefing was not to bad but was given with the warning that conditions may change significantly from what was being reported. On the starting grid clear blue skies and high cirrus seemed to indicate that soaring was not going to be very good. The sniffer was launched and he floated around between 1000 and 2000 feet for nearly a half an hour. Finally he made it up to about 4k and they launched the 5 PW-5ís. They flew for about another half-hour trying to get high enough to start. They called a pilot meeting on the starting grid and announced that they were shorting the task form a 3-hour post to a 2 and a half-hour task. Many pilots thought we should cancel the day and the todayís mission would be to simply not land out. A lot of land outs were expected. Being near the front of the starting grid there were only about 12 gliders up including the PW-5ís when I got off tow and they were all in the same thermal. I initially headed for that thermal but then decided that it was much to crowded and a bit far away. I had flown through some good lift on tow so I reversed course and intercepted. It turned out to be a good thermal and took me up to about 6K. I bounced around in thermal at about 6k for quite a while. Finally a thermal was located that took us to nearly 8K and nearly every glider in the area was circling near the top of it. I left a little bit before I reached the top in order to get me to the start gate just as it opened. Only a few of us were at the gate when it opened and two gliders went through before me. I spaced out nicely and called IP. I got no response so I called again and again and then the glider behind me called and they cleared him through the gate. I then called again and they cleared me through along with another glider right behind me so 3 of us were going through the gate at nearly the same time. I never heard them give me a start and there was so much radio chatter I am sure they missed me so I headed back out to get high enough to go through again. I was having difficulty getting up and finally had to go through the gate again to reset my Start Time Interval (STI) of 1.5 hours. I then went looking for a thermal to get in and it took me a while to find it. I finally found the thermal to take me to 8k and proceed through the gate. I headed out on course and found reasonably good thermal about 4kt to about 7K I found another one shortly there after and then another 4kts to about 11K. I then headed for Wilber and bounced along underneath the clouds to Wilber. I then headed for Davenport, which was under the clouds, and downwind from Davenport I had a nice cloud street back to Ephrata. I keep finding 4kt thermals just when I need them and never really found myself low. I finally hit the thermal that took me high enough to get home and began the final glide. I hit some lift along the way and was able to bump my speed up to about 80kts for the final glide, which was nice, since I was headed into the wind. I flew 142 miles in about 2 hours and 40minutes for a speed of about 52mph. I know of at least one maybe 2 other contestants that flew slower so at least I am not last.
Yesterday I wasnít last but not by much I came in 28 out of 29 participants in the sports class. This dropped my overall standing to 15th out of 21 US competitors and 20th out of the 29 participants. We have 8 foreign pilots competing.
Sunday July 9th 183 miles at 54mph. Ephrata-Kramer-Davenport-WilsonCreek-Odessa-Ephrata.
Today looked like a really good day from the start. The sniffer immediately hit 7kts to 7500ft and we start launching at 12:00 sharp. It actually turned out to be a bit challenging as the thermals where spaced quite far apart. I found a decent thermal and climbed up to about 6K and shortly there after went to 8K. After Yesterdays Experience I went through gate to reset my start time interval, especially since I was one of the 1st to start. Actually I was number 3 in the Sports Class tomorrow I will be at the back of the starting grid. Past the start gate I found a couple week thermals and worked my way up to about 7500 and went through the start gate again about 3-4 minutes after the gate opened. I think everyone was having enough difficulty getting high enough for a good start that the gate was not very crowded. I immediate headed out on course and found reasonably good thermal that took me up to 7500 feet. I continued on course and found a fair thermal but left as it slowed down. I then headed out again and got quite low, about 1500 AGL. I ended up working a 2kt thermal that eventually turned into about 4 kts up to about 7500. I then bumped along under some clouds but never seemed to really find anything really good that would take me up to cloud base. I did this all the way to Kramer which was the Mandatory First Turn point. I then turned north to Davenport and contacted some reasonably good thermals that took me up to cloud base of about 8300 ft. I then bumped along under the cuís hitting 4-5kt thermal back up to cloud base. As I turned Davenport I noticed a thunderstorm approaching from the West. At first I was going to go to Wilber but decided Dry Falls might be better to avoid the thunderstorm. As I got I little closer I could see that Dry Falls was going to be hit by the Thunderstorm as well so I diverted to Wilson Creek. What I hoped was that the leading edge of the storm would have some good lift under it. At first I thought I might be wrong about this but then hit a 7kt thermal to cloud base at about 8K. I then flew for several miles at about 80kts just under the cloud to keep from going into them. The leading edge of the storm went right to Wilson Creek and I had a good ride to there. I then turned back toward Odessa away from the Storm front and made good time downwind and finding some lift along the way. At Odessa I hit reasonably good thermal that almost got me to final glide and then headed back for Ephrata. The storm had moved just enough that I hoped I could again ride the leading edge of it a good portion of the way back to Ephrata. It worked and I hit a 6kt thermal that took me to 9K and I had lots of lift under the clouds and flew most of the final glide between 80 and 100kts finishing in 3 hours and 33 minutes. My landing was the best I have done so far. I flew 183 miles at about 54 mph.
Yesterday I came in 16 bumping me up to 14 place among the US pilots and 17th overall
Monday July 10th 203 miles at 52mph. Ephrata-Davenport-Chelan-Mansfield-Ephrata.
Today started with clear blue skies and a great soaring forecast. The task was called as a 3-Ĺ hour post task with a mandatory 1st turn point of Davenport. I was last in the launching grid so by the time I found a thermal and was up to starting altitude the start gate was about to open. I headed for the gate a minute or two before it opened and as a result it opened just as I arrived at the Initial point. I called IP and proceeded through the gate to be the 1st in the sports class to start. I am not sure if this is a good plan or not, because I get to see everyone pass me. Todayís flight was really a non-event with 3-4 knot thermals fairly closely spaced and numerous cloud streets I had no trouble getting to my turn points. I once got down to about 5300 feet approaching Grand Coulee Dam Airport, but this was simply because I didnít want to stop for the numerous 2kt thermals that were around. My course ended up being Davenport to Grand Coulee and I was then going to Mansfield. As I approached Mansfield I observed that the street continued on toward Chelan so in order to add a few miles and stay under the cloud streets continued on for Chelan. I then reversed course and went back to Mansfield. I notice that the thermals where getting weaker as I was only finding about 3kt thermals. Where as the thermals in the 1st part of the flight where closer 4 or even 5kts. After turning Mansfield I worked a 3-4kt thermal up to about 8500 that put me on the final glide to Ephrata. On the way back I spotted Steve Northcraft thermalling and joined him for a couple minutes in a 5kt thermal and headed back to Ephrata at a relatively high speed of between 70-80kts. I hit one more short-lived thermal and some lift on that way back that let me fly most of my final glide between 90-100kts. I had lots of energy at the finish and went the gate at nearly 130 kts. I pulled up onto the downwind in lift and had a nice high approach. As I turned base I felt I had way too much altitude so I started putting on lots of Flap to get me down and slowed down. I had finally was down to where I thought I should be on short final but hit some sink or a gust of wind at the last moment that dropped me on about 15 feet short of the ramp. I then bounced up onto the ramp did a smaller bounce and came to a stop just in front of my tie down again
Yesterday I placed 15th for the day putting me in 13 place among the US pilots and 16th overall.
Tomorrow is going to be a rest day, so I am going fishing instead of flying.
Tuesday July 11th Rest Day Fish were not biting had a nice nap
Wednesday July 12th 167 miles at 52mph. Ephrata-Mansfield-Waterville-DryFalls-Mansfield-Waterville-Ephrata.
Today we woke up to clear blue skies. The forecast was mostly blue for the day. The sniffer was launched at 12:00 and had quite a bit of difficulty staying up but managed to do so. It was about 12:45 before they started launching into the clear blue sky. I was happy to be near the end of the starting grid so the day could develop as much as possible. Just before I launched it was noticed that most of the gliders were thermalling to the north of the airport so they recommended that we stay on tow until we reached them. The towplanes tow us to 2000 ft AGL and then level off until we release. I found it very difficult to stay on tow once the towplane leveled off. I probably should have added some flap for additional drag but once some slack developed in the line it would go tight and then slingshot me forward into a slack condition again and kept getting worse with each cycle. So finally I just released in some lift and found my own thermal. The thermals were only about 1-2 kts and only a very few of them went any higher that 5000ft msl and these were very short lived. I final got high enough to start some time after the gate opened. I went through the gate at about 4600 feet AGL and headed for Mansfield along with nearly everyone else. I kept working thermals of about 2-3kts and worked my way up to 8000 ft by the time I made it to Mansfield. I then turned toward Waterville. As I left Waterville I hit some good 4-5kt thermals that took me to nearly 10K and I headed for Dry Falls. The thermals proceed to get farther apart and weaker as I approached Dry Falls. From Waterville I followed Kappi in 1I and MS (an ASH26E) to Dry Falls. From Dry Falls I turned back toward Mansfield hoping the thermals would get stronger as I went west. I hit a few 1-2-kt thermals on the way back but managed to get rather low on the way back to Mansfield. As I drew closer to Mansfield I started hitting better thermals but they didnít seem to last very long. I caught up with MS at Mansfield turned and started for Waterville. Not quite half way to Waterville I hit a good 4-5kt thermal that took me to near 10K again this put me only 3000 feet short of a final glide back to Ephrata. I turned Waterville and headed for Ephrata. Just a few miles from Waterville I hit a good 3kt thermal that took me up to final glide altitude and I headed for Ephrata at a McCready setting of about 4. I kept hitting 1-2kt thermals and I kept turning the McCready up until it was maxed out an 8. I crossed the finish line at about 95kts and entered the pattern for landing. My landing was a little long but the best one I have done so far. I flew a distance of 167 miles in 3 hours and 12 minutes for a speed of about 52mph.
Monday I came in 21st placing me 13th among the US pilots and 16th overall.
Thursday July 13th 53 miles. Ephrata--DryFalls-Mansfield-(Waterville).
Today started off looking like a carbon copy of yesterday with clear blue skies. The weather forecast was actually a bit better with the exception of the wind, which was forecast to be a bit stronger later in the day. On the starting grid the wind was about 15 gusting to 20. They launched the sniffer, which climbed up reasonably well and contacted some wave at about 6K. I never heard how high he actually managed to make it to. They opted to move the PW-5ís to the back of the starting grid and reduced the sports class task from 3 hour POST with a mandatory 1st turn point of Wilber to a straight 3 hour post. Upon launching I managed to get up to about 6K but had been blown downwind quite a ways. I headed for the start gate even though it hadnít opened yet. I hung around the IP for a couple minutes until the gate open and then went through the gate at about 4300ft. I was down to 3200ft before I finally found something to get me back up. I went through the gate so low that I decided to climb backup up and go through again. This proved to be a big mistake. The highest I could get was 5800ft and it took me nearly an hour to get there. While doing this I watched to K6E and the L-33 land at Ephrata and give up. I later found out an ASW-19 that when through gate just before me landed and called it a day as well. I finally made it through the gate but was quite certain I was going to land in Soap Lake. I was down to 2800 ft MSL† (1500 AGL) when I finally contacted a weak thermal. I stuck with it and kept climbing slowly and drifting downwind toward Dry Falls. I drifted nearly 5 miles and climbed to 3200 feet I then jumped up onto the plateau and contacted another thermal that slowly took me up to 5200ft and drifted me another 5 miles. I then finally started heading towards Mansfield thinking the thermals might be better that direction. I then contacted a reasonably good thermal that took me to 7600 ft. This was enough to turn Dry Falls and nearly get me to Mansfield so opted to take The Dry Falls turn point using a GPS turn as I didnít want to waste the altitude to take a photo. I then headed for Mansfield and hit a 4-5kt thermal that took me to 9200 feet. From here I turned Mansfield and headed for Waterville. I could see a line of high cirrus to the West but it was still quite far away and Waterville was still in the sun. The problem with Waterville or just about any other turn point now was that it was into about a 20+kt wind. It was quiet glide to Waterville though I did contact a few 1-2kt thermals but they were so weak that I was actually drifting downwind faster than I was climbing. I pushed on and finally found a 3-4kt thermal that took me up to about 5500 feet but I was still about 500 feet short of a glide to Waterville. About 3 Ĺ miles from Waterville I was down to about 700 feet I was over a main road and couldnít see any other access roads that I was sure I could make it to between Waterville and the road. So I opted to land I tried a couple turns in a little bit of lift but was unable to make it go up so I put the gear down and landing in a plowed field along side the road. I called my crew and the retrieve desk and settled back into the cockpit to get out of the wind while I waited. Sherry and Michael showed up about 1-Ĺ hours later. She thought I had said that I had landed on a road so hadnít brought any help. The field I had landed in had no fence but did have about a 4-foot deep ditch that we would need to move the glider across. What we ended up doing was hooking my tow rope up to the glider and pulling it down to the corner of the field about 300 yards away. There was an access road here where we backed the trailer into field and loaded it there. It was quite late when I returned to Ephrata and turned in my landing card. It turns out that everyone else that got away from the airport earlier had reasonably good flights and I was the only one to land out. Not included those that never started. In hindsight I should have kept going after my 1st start.
In even further hindsight I should have given up on going to Waterville and tried to get back to Ephrata. Later I found out that Tom in 1I† had slowing climbed out from Waterville in a 1-2k thermal and had eventually contacted some wave. He was at 16,000 over Waterville and saw me approaching Waterville. He said I looked quite low and then a cloud of dust appeared behind the airplane as I landed in the field.
Yesterday I placed 5th and today I placed 25th. My final standing in the contest is 15th among the US Pilots and 17the overall.