On Sunday I won the Condor Soaring Team SA, Omarama 164, a Condor ridge race on the south island of New Zealand. Unlike the challenge races on this web site, these are considered practice races and you can make three attempts. The key to my success was taking advantage of the thermal under a high cloud in the start area. The starting altitude was 2500 meters and most cloud ceilings were around 2600 meters. The particular cloud that I found allowed me to climb to over 3000 meters. This allowed me to dive for the start line at maximum glider speed. From the start line it’s about 20km to a ridge that you can follow to TP 1 and back to the finish (except for the 20km gap). The trick was to find the best speed to fly to the ridge and once on the ridge to gain altitude while losing the minimum speed.
On my second attempt my theory was to fly a little slower to the ridge so that I could fly it at a higher altitude. This strategy was a failure. I wasn’t that much higher on the ridge and the speed deficit proved too much to recover. It is also very important to pull up in lift only when the lift is very strong. I believe I managed this better in attempt one than in attempt two.
On the third attempt I had perfected the dive to the start and was able to maintain a higher speed to the ridge than in the previous attempts. Once flying along the ridge I was very careful about speed conservation and pulled up only when the lift was strong. I also took advantage of the stability of autopilot in the gap between the start and the ridge and between the ridge and the finish.