CWC 2013 Day 7

I just finished day 7 of the so-called Condor World Championship. It was a ridge race with a favorable 30 kph wind from the southeast. Preparation was a bit hectic because the map of the preliminary race details was pretty hard to be sure of the turn points. I made my best guess though and created a waypoint file with SeeYou and set the race up in XCSoar. It was a standard class race with a regatta start once again. I usually fly the LS-8-b, 15 meter ship for standard class. Standard class races aren’t very common so I tried a dive for the line at 300 meters above max start altitude and 1 km from the line. This seemed to work fine but I wasn’t able to time it. I’m playing these starts a bit on the safe side so I wouldn’t start my dive any sooner than 10 or 12 seconds before the start opened, anyway.

The preliminary details are available two hours before the start join time so this give ample opportunity to do some experimentation and get things squared away. My biggest worry was that my turn points would be wrong and I would have to re-work the task in XCSoar.

Fifteen minutes before join time, the turn points and most information that you need is made available. To my surprise, the only point I guessed wrong was the finish. I accidentally chose a turnpoint by Aigen airport called Aigen Mil. It only took me a few minutes to jump into the task that I had created in condor again after correcting the finish, saving it and opening the IGC in SeeYou. From there all I had to do was create the one waypoint, save only the one to a new CUP file, copy it to my Gallaxy Note 2 with XCSoar on it, then add the additional CUP file to the “More waypoints” line in the Site Files  configuration of XCSoar.

This race started with a winch launch but it was pretty easy to gain altitude at a downwind ridge, downwind of the start line. The ridge wasn’t that high though. I gained about 1600 meters then flew upwind and gained the rest of the altitude I needed in a blue thermal and a really strong thermal under a big Cu. The max start height was 1800 meters so I needed to start 1 km before the line at 2100 meters. The last thermal gave me almost 2500 meters so I flew upwind about 1.5 km from the line, made a ninety degree turn to the right until I was opposite the center of the start, opened up the air brakes to full while making a descending right turn just above stall speed. I was just above 2100 meters at the 1 km to go point with 20 seconds to go. This was cutting it closer than I wanted by a good five seconds but I went for it anyway. As the line approached I looked to be too high so really dove for the line. I didn’t know it at the time, but as I crossed the line my vertical descent was 58 meters/second and the countdown to race start was exactly 0 and I was 6 meters above the maximum start altitude. I guess there must be a little leeway here because my start was good and I was very lucky!

The race was an easy one for the most part. I just wasn’t sure how fast I could fly. I must have been doing everything exactly right though because about half way down the final leg of the task I saw LS (Sandor Laurinyecz) in front of me and several hundred feet below. I couldn’t believe my luck and made the most of the situation by following one of the top competitors in glider simulation competition. I was worried that he would outsmart me and leave me behind but I held my own for a while and finally passed him by a bit. Later he passed me and at one point was 1.1 Km ahead. Not too far before the finish there was a big vertical cliff. I don’t know how I managed it, but I managed to gain more altitude there without losing any distance behind him. Finally, three or four minutes from the finish I was able to pass him. I think we were both worried about last minute terrain obstacles and he was a bit more cautious than I. I raced him to the line at red line and surprisingly he didn’t gain on me. I managed to beat him by 12 seconds! Oddly enough he crashed at the airport. It could be that he was deliberately trying to collide with one of his Hungary team mates.

I couldn’t be happier with my results. The next closes pilot to Sandor and I was about two and a half minutes slower. We were in the first of four time slots though, so there may be quite a few pilots yet to race. Norbert Kiss usually races the first time slot tomorrow (Friday) and he is always a huge threat but I expect to stay in the top five places at the worst.

Note: I was unable to use the Condor2Nav utility with the Austria scenery. It is not in the database that the utility uses for the scenery.

Rules for flying ridges

These rules for flying ridges are from the Glider Pilots Handbook

Slope soaring comes with several procedures to enable
safe flying and to allow many gliders on the same
ridge. The rules are:
1. make all turns away from the ridge;
2. do not fly directly above or below another glider;
3. pass another glider on the ridge side, anticipating
that the other pilot will make a turn away from
the ridge; and
4. the glider with its right side to the ridge has the
right of way. [Figure 10-15]

Inversion Height

image On the right side of the weather panel in Condor, there is a depiction of a cloud which graphically indicates the height of the cloud base, cloud top, air temperature and dew point. If you hover over the number on the right, the label, inversion height will appear to the left of the number. I wonder, what exactly is this number and is there any scientific basis for the name, “inversion height?” From preliminary research I’ve done, I find that inversion refers to the air temperature increasing with altitude so I’m not sure that the term is correctly used or if it even exists.

On the Condor forums, the user Vertigo believes that

  • Increasing inversion height allows more and denser CUs.
  • Lowering inversion height below cloud base results in blue thermals and no CUs
  • The lower the inversion height the better the wave if there is enough wind
  • The higher the cloud base, the few the CUs but thermals will be stronger

TimKuijpers observes that, in real life thermals diminish toward the end of the afternoon. In Condor, there is less fall off at the end of the day so start time is not as critical as in real life.

Here are some comments from Glider Flying Handbook, an FAA publication for glider pilots, on the subject of blue thermals:

  • Convective Condensation Level ( CCL )
  • On some days, when only a few thermals are reaching the CCL, the initial wisps may be the only cloud markers around. The trick is to get to the wisp when it first forms, in order to catch the thermal underneath. (Glider Flying Handbook, 10-2)
  • Lack of Cu does not necessarily mean lack of thermals. If the air aloft is cool enough and the surface temperature warms sufficiently, thermals will form whether or not enough moisture exists for cumulus formation. These blue or dry thermals, as they are called, can be just as strong as their Cu-topped counterparts. Glider pilots can find blue thermals, without Cu markers, by gliding along until stumbling upon a thermal. With any luck, other blue thermal indicators exist, making the search less random. (Glider Flying Handbook, 10-2)
  • When a thermal rises to an inversion it disturbs the stable air above it and spreads out horizontally, thus depositing some of the aerosols at that level. Depending on the sun angle and the pilot’s sunglasses, haze domes can indicate dry thermals. If the air contains enough moisture, haze domes often form just before the first wisp of Cu.
  • Usually upon entering a thermal, the glider is in lift for part of the circle and sink for the other part. It is rare to roll into a thermal and immediately be perfectly centered. The goal of centering the thermal is to determine where the best lift is and move the glider into it for the most consistent climb. One centering technique is known as the “270° correction.” [Figure 10-8] In this case, the pilot rolls into a thermal and almost immediately encounters sink, an indication of turning the wrong way. Complete a 270° turn, straighten out for a few seconds, and if lift is encountered again, turn back into it in the same direction. Avoid reversing the direction of turn. The distance flown while reversing turns is more than seems possible and can lead away from the lift completely. [Figure 10-9]image
  • Often stronger lift exists on one side of the thermal than on the other, or perhaps the thermal is small enough that lift exists on one side and sink on the other, thereby preventing a climb. There are several techniques and variations to centering. One method involves paying close attention to where the thermal is strongest, for instance, toward the northeast or toward some feature on the ground. To help judge this, note what is under the high wing when in the best lift. On the next turn, adjust the circle by either straightening or shallowing the turn toward the stronger lift. Anticipate things a bit and begin rolling out about 30° before actually heading towards the strongest part. This allows rolling back toward the strongest part of the thermal rather than flying through the strongest lift and again turning away from the thermal center. Gusts within the thermal can cause airspeed indicator variations; therefore, avoid “chasing the ASI.” Paying attention to the nose attitude helps pilots keep their focus outside the cockpit. How long a glider remains shallow or straight depends on the size of the thermal. [Figure 10-10] Other variations include the following. [Figure 10-11]
    • 1. Shallow the turn slightly (by maybe 5° or 10°) when encountering the weaker lift, then as stronger lift is encountered again (feel the positive g, variometer swings up, audio variometer starts to beep) resume the original bank angle. If shallowing the turn too much, it is possible to fly completely away from the lift.

Condor World Championship Season 2013 — CWC 2013–Repost

Report on a new race series that began in April 2013.

This championship began last year. I believe it was the organizer, Martin Lonien’s first attempt to hold a Condor race series. Last year the entire series was flown off-line by the competitors. This was really nice because you could compete any time that was convenient and it was very relaxed.

This year the series is back and it seems that Martin really did his homework and did an excellent job preparing for a much improved series. He prepared a nice competition document, nicely organized with all required information. The competition began in May with a series of four training races. I only managed to compete in one of these but was glad I was able to do at least one. At first I didn’t understand the requirement to sign up for a time slot to compete. I happened to register on Thursday, which was one of the two weekly race days. There are four time slots to choose from and you pick a time slot from the registration page at the time that you sign up or any time thereafter, except on race days when these choices don’t show up at all.

Registration page with option to pick a time slot

 

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Since the top part of this page containing the time slot choice radio buttons didn’t appear the day I signed up, or on the next page, it took a post to the Condor forum to learn the proper procedure.

The first official race was held last Thursday and Friday. I attempted to race but when I clicked on the join button I was rejected by the host because it claimed that my scenery had been altered. The scenery in question was Greece 2.1. After the competition Martin sent out an email to competitors that the server was mistakenly running Greece 2.0. As a result, only two people who hadn’t upgraded from 2.0 managed to compete. I believe he is throwing out the results for this race.

The second race was run yesterday and today and my time slot was the last one today at 5pm UTC or 1pm EDT, my time.

A very kind and generous friend of my brother’s gave me his 7” Dell Streak with a badly cracked screen to run XCSoar on. After trying it a short while, I spotted a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 at Costco for only $170 so I bought the Tab and returned the Dell. I am very happy with this arrangement and it is fun learning Android which I had never used before. The galaxy connects to Condor through a wireless virtual serial port called com0com. I can connect to my PC with the tab, either wirelessly or through the supplied USB charging cable making it quite easy to create waypoint files on my pc and transfer them to the tab.

The race “committee sends out an abridged task briefing two hours before race join time. The briefing doesn’t specify waypoints so, unless you can guess what Condor waypoints are being used from the map supplied in the briefing, you have to wait until the detailed briefing is published on the Condor Club site fifteen minutes before joint time. This inevitably leads to a mad scramble to enter the new waypoints into a waypoint file, transfer them to your flight computer (my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2) and create the task on the Tab with the help of the waypoint file created on the pc.

I was able to prepare early today because the turn points on the map were pretty unambiguous so I created the task in Condor, joined the task briefly, exited and saved an IGC. I was still concerned that a non-standard Condor waypoint had been used but when the detailed briefing was finally published, the waypoints I had used, checked out.

At 1pm I jumped right into the race as soon as possible so that I would have a little time to solve problems if I was rejected by the server, as I had been last week. This week’s race used the New Zealand .8 scenery, but I had applied two texture enhancements and I hoped that these upgrades wouldn’t cause the server to reject me again.

Fortunately I had no problem this time. The only small mistake I made was that I was in such a hurry to join that I forgot to check all the details of the task. I already knew wind direction and speed 112 degrees at 31 Kph, knew the thermals would be strong with normal activity but it would have been nice to know the width as well as a few other details lacking in the briefing.

Here’s a shot northeast of the start on the way to TP1. In the distance you can see the lake and the point of land which has been the turnpoint for several Condor races that started from Glentanner airport, near Mount Cook. Wichada and I stayed there when we visited New Zealand about eight years ago.

Shot59

I didn’t race badly but I feel that I didn’t take advantage of some potentially pretty strong thermals. I feel like I passed by some strong ridge lift early on and ended up making the best of weaker ridge lift later on. Perhaps I could have capitalized on some strong thermals too.

Monday Night Soaring Europe—Day 247

I suddenly decided to do the Monday Night Soaring race yesterday. I had to do some errands and wasn’t able to start using the first server at 1:30 pm but there is usually another server that starts 15 or 20 minutes later and then there is an additional server starting at 2:30 and 3:30. I’m determined to take these races less serious and not even worried if I’m not that prepared. I had a lot of problems getting a cup file export of the waypoints I needed and this slowed down and drew out the preparation substantially, otherwise I might have been able to do the 2:30 server.

I may not have mentioned that I am no longer using the iPaq that my brother Aaron sent me a couple of years ago. And I’m not using the Dell Streak running Android that he sent me right after I returned from Thailand at the beginning of March. Tui and I were in Costco not long after where we spotted a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for only $169! I grabbed it and returned the streak to Aaron—well really John Sullivan since he was the kind hearted soul that donated the tablet to me. Aaron was the kind-hearted soul who shipped it to me! Thank you John and Aaron!

So now I’m running XCSoar v6.6 beta 2 Android on my Android tablet. It’s such a superior system to the iPaq, especially because of the screen quality and the processor speed. And then XCSoar is just superior to the SeeYou version that was running on the iPaq. Here is a screen shot I just took while in IGC replay mode. I’m replaying my disastrous MNS flight yesterday.

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Notice how beautiful the screen resolution is!

Only about 4 or 5 other pilots began the race with me. The great Andrez Czop was one if them. I would like to have been able to follow him and just before he dove for the start line he said hi as he passed me but I never even made visual contact with him, and with a mere 2km visual range, he was off the radar before I could make visual contact.

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