Today we woke to perfectly clear skies and the hope of excellent soaring conditions. We’d been briefed that the first launch would happen at 10:30, with gridding and the morning pilot briefing scheduled an hour earlier than normal to allow this. I suspect many here were anticipating very big tasks.
The forecast offered early cu at good altitudes, with conditions trending toward blue later in the afternoon. This led to long tasks, though nothing actually spectacular – Club Class had a 336-km “bow tie” task that most figured would require about 4.5 hours to complete.
I mentioned yesterday how WGC score can be volatile. The best way to take advantage of this is the old-fashioned one: simply fly better and more consistently than the other pilots. Yesterday, Sarah and Ailsa McMillan flew as a loose team and managed exactly that, beating all the pilots ahead of them by 18 minutes or more. Ailsa (with a slightly better handicap) was the day winner, earning 1000 points; Sarah (marginally faster) earned 998. As a result, Ailsa is now in first overall; Sarah has jumped up to 3rd place, just 44 points out of first.
Sarah’s finish was eventful. She had just enough energy to arrive at the edge of the finish cylinder above the required 600m MSL. But this is only 107m (350ft) above home, with some wires and trees to clear on your way to the runway. We had scouted a good landable field about 2km from home: smooth surface; very low crop; some wires that are easy to avoid once you’ve seen them. Sarah decided to use this (an outlanding after your finish incurs no penalty) and was soon safely on the ground. I’d heard her radio call, and soon had the trailer hitched up and rolling. I thought I detected some quasi-sympathetic looks from crews whose pilots had landed at home. Crocodile tears were perhaps flowing when her score was initially posted – it showed an outlanding less than halfway around the task. But this was due to a flight recorder issue that the backup flight log corrected.
The retrieve was easy: a 5-minute drive to a field with good access and a hard surface. A surprise was to find that the glider owner – Ondrej Dvorak – and friend were there, chatting with Sarah. They’d driven from Prague in time to watch the finishes from about 5km out, and had seen one glider land short of home; upon investigation, they found this was Ondrej’s Cirrus. With his help the glider was in the box in record time, we were on our way back home to re-assemble and clean it, and to wait for the daily scores and the bright story we knew they would soon tell.
A glider from the 18-Meter class had an eventful landing: glider MO (a Ventus 2) arrived on final with excess energy, and the pilot was not able to get it stopped before the hedge that forms the northern airfield boundary. (It was disconcerting to see this as I departed the field on my short retrieve.) Fortunately, the hedge is reasonably soft; the pilot was uninjured and the glider is reported to have suffered only minor insult.
John Good has been a member of the US Team at many World Gliding Championship events, serving as crew, Team Captain and report author. He was the Deputy Championship Director/ Task-setter at the 2012 WGC in Uvalde, Texas and brings a wealth of international rules knowledge as Captain.