This report is from the US 15M, Opens, and Standard Class Nationals in Cordele, Ga. on a “no-contest” day. Sarah Kelly Arnold, recent WWGC Silver Medalist, analyzed and critiqued a few of her flights from Zbraslavice with Fernando Silva moderating.
Using SeeYou, Fernando overlaid Sarah’s flights with several of her competitors. By Day 4, Sarah was loosely team flying with Ailsa McMillan from Australia. Aisla is considered an “adopted” member USA as she crewed for Mike Robison at the Benalla contest and was a valuable resource for local information at the Worlds last January. Ailsa won 3 of the contest days and was for a few at the top of the leaderboard until she landed out just short of home on the next to last day.
Sarah did not review her own flights during the contest, preferring to maintain a “forward looking only” mindset. Because there were so many racing tasks, she didn’t obsess about weather forecasts, preferring to concentrate on the task at hand.
“…some contests my goal is to improve, but during important ones I just try to do my best. At the pre-worlds in Benalla I analyzed flight traces every night. During the WWGC, I focused on putting each day behind me, choosing to concentrate on the today’s possibility instead of yesterday’s disappointment.” per Sarah
When asked about her preparation each day, Sarah emphasized maintaining a relaxed state of mind. She enjoyed spending the short preparation time getting the glider ready to grid and weighing in anticipation of the day. The times before launch were spent quietly; eating lunch, setting up the task and readying the cockpit and plane.
It was interesting to watch and hear her reactions to her various flights and listen to her comments regarding the other team’s tactics.
Ground to pilot communications was quite effective. John Good was able to access visualization of tactically important pilot positions, starts, etc. from the excellent tracking systems available and communicate this info to Sarah in a timely fashion.
On the last day, Sarah’s intent to was to simply fly as well as she could and at the end, she was quite satisfied with the result and honored to share the podium with 2 very fine German pilots.
Leigh’s connection to soaring and competition is through her husband, SZ, for whom she’s crewed for 42 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.