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8 Points per Mile, 8 Points per Mile . . .

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Joined: 07 Aug 2004
Posts: 38
Location: Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.A.

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 4:03 am    Post subject: 8 Points per Mile, 8 Points per Mile . . . Reply with quote

Day 6 of the 2005 World Class Nationals at Bermuda High looked like it might finally be a good day. The previous day had been a no-contest day, and the day before that no one had made it home either. This day was starting out fine though, and we were all looking forward to a good day of racing. I had been having a good contest, and started the day 94 points ahead of Francois Pin. Bill Snead, Richard Maleady, and Johnny Bird rounded out the top five.

I launched in the middle of the grid, and quickly climbed to cloudbase, about 4000 AGL. The task was a modified assigned task, going South to Bishopville, then East to Ross, with several more turnpoints. Suddenly, the day looked like it might over-develop fairly quickly, so I decided to leave as soon as the gate opened. I was able to be in position to be the first one on course, and headed toward Bishopville. As I got lower and lower without finding any lift, and looking at what looked like a dead sky toward the South, it was pretty much a no-brainer to head back to Bermuda High before I passed the point of no return. There was no lift on the way home either, so I landed back for a relight.

At this point we had every ship but two back on the field. Now the question is when to launch. After about an hour everyone launches again, but only a few are able to stay up. After sinking to 1000 ft, it takes me over 20 minutes to climb back to 1800 ft, where the thermal dies and I land back again. Now that pesky rule limiting each pilot to a maximum of three launches per day kicks in. I have taken two launches, so the next one will be my last. The sky looks entirely dead, so the only thing to do is wait.

Johnny Bird reports having landed out at the second turn point. Unless he cut the turns short, he has made minimum distance for the day. Then Francois Pin and Wes Chumley report down, also at the second turn point. Since the sky still is as dead as can be, I have time to review the rules and do some strategizing. All three of the above pilots have probably made minimum distance, so each will receive approximately 400 points (plus 25 for the airfield bonus). If I don't leave the field, I will receive 0 points for the day. If, on the other hand, I can land any distance at all away from the start gate, I will get 8 points per mile. The wind is starting to kick up somewhat from the NorthWest, so even if I can only get 5 miles, that's still 40 points. I can't afford to let Francois gain 400 points on me, so I WILL be going on course.

The next decision is when to leave. The sky is still dead, so I might as well wait until the last possible minute, just in case something changes. Several of the other pilots are waiting with me, but as rain showers move through the area, one by one they drop out and put their ships away. Finally, at 1730, I decide I can wait no longer. There is a little rain shower slightly NorthWest of the field, perhaps I can ride the gust front for a few extra miles. Since I am without a crew, Wes Chumley generously volunteers to come get me, because a land-out is nearly mathmatically certain.

Off launch at 1737, I immediately head out on course. A slight deviation puts me on what looks like the best line to get the most out of the outflow from the rainshower, and it takes neary 10 minutes to sink to 1000 ft. I am neary 10 miles on course, so it looks like my plan is paying off. Suddenly, I am climbing. A little experimentation, and I have nearly 2 knots of climb, just following the energy lines from the storm. Then, an actual thermal. Suddenly, I am climbing at 6 knots, getting blown towards the turnpoint. After four hours of being dissapointed and depressed, I am now feeling on top of the world! I milk my new freind the rainstorm for everything it is worth, and make it to 6000 ft by the time I reach Bishopville.

Unfortunately, the storm was now in the dissapating stage, and the sky is again dead in every direction. A new plan appears in my mind - this is an MAT, and if I go the the back of the Bishopville turnpoint, and then go home, I will have just over minimum distance - I might finish! There are only 25 miles to go, and I am at 5800 ft, but the headwind quickly lets me know that my dream is not going to happen. At what I calculate to be my best speed for the wind, GPS gives me a groundspeed of 30 knots. The air is glassy smooth all the way to the ground, but I find a good field and land only 9 miles from Bermuda High. Wes was certain that I would land out, so he started towards Bishopville, and I only had to wait 5 minutes for my trailer to show up.

I ended up earning 311 points for the day, and although that does not sound like a lot of points, it sure beats 0!
Pat Tuckey - I fly PW-5 N105PW "4K"
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