Probably the trickiest day yet at JWGC2019. All forecasts called for thickening mid- and high-level cloud to march into central and eastern Hungary by noon, and a morning view to the west confirmed this. It really looked for a while as if no task should be possible, and even that gliders might not be able to stay in the air. But they did, and Club class set off on a rather long (3-hour) area task. Standard class, launching last, had their task pushed back to 2 hours – and, curiously, their launch delayed almost an hour.
Club class gliders found varied conditions, including some lift to above 1800m – about the best altitudes seen so far at this contest. But by 4:30pm it was clear that the clouds had mostly covered the task area and the day was dying. More than a few pilots “fell off the back of the day”, getting close to home but failing to finish. The three US pilots almost got caught, but after a long struggle in weakening lift, managed to just barely get home.
The late launch for Standard class meant that anyone who delayed his start or got slowed down much ran out of soarable weather. The final toll was 19 pilots who failed to finish. Shortly before 5pm, Michael Marshall felt he’d likely be among them: not a trace of sun was reaching the ground and another thousand meters of climb was needed. Somehow, he found this and made it back to the field, not only a finisher but one of just 8 who did not incur a low-finish penalty (vs 11 who did). Just 6 teams saw all their pilots finish today, and we were glad to be one of these. (If we’re not really supposed to enjoy the sight of trailers rolling away from the field in dark and rainy directions, we can at least enjoy the fact that for today at least we aren’t joining that parade.)
I’d be remiss if I failed to note that among the 80 contestants here are two women – and each has stood on the podium at the morning pilot meeting. In Club class, Barbora Moravcova of the Czech Republic was third on August 1, and in Standard class, Aude Untersee of France was the July 30 day winner.
A clarification on yesterday’s Hazardous Maneuver penalties: These were imposed for pullups into the finish cylinder – sharp maneuvers are considered dangerous there. But on review it was found that at least some of these were actually moderate maneuvers accompanied by lift. When the change in groundspeed is found to be moderate, no penalty is applied – so some of the penalties that were listed have been removed.
ps: John adds that tomorrow is a rest day (weather)
Leigh’s connection to soaring and competition is through her husband, SZ, for whom she’s crewed for 44 years. She’s a passionate supporter of the US Teams and loves contest reporting. She currently resides in both Steamboat Springs, Co. and Greenville, SC.