Diving for Race Starting Line

iPad-Thailand Trip 2633

Here is Santiago Lopez’s formula for diving for the start:

I recommend climbing 300 m ( 1000 ft) above the maximum altitude at a distance of 1 km (0.55 nm) from the start and then dive to a speed close to redline, and watch out for flutter, especially when the start altitude is above 2000 m. For standard class planes and others with a lower redline speed, reduce the height of your dive 10-15%.

Centering Thermals

Thermals

Image via Wikipedia

I registered for the Soaring on Heaven races yesterday but received an email today saying that my account had been suspended because they couldn’t verify my information.  I started looking back at competitions that I had flown in order to give them more information.  One of the great competitions that I entered and will always remember is the 2010 World Gliding Competition in Szeged Slovakia.  I thought it was an excellent competition and as like the real contest as possible.  However the organizer got a lot of criticism from some very immature acting pilots and there was a lot of controversy over the winner who several pilots accused of cheating.  They said his name was made up and I must say that I don’t recall seeing his name anywhere since.  A couple of competitors, including myself, flew his flight track and observed an uncanny ability of the pilot to fly straight for the best thermals.  This is all documented in this thread on the Condor Forums.  I was reading some of that thread and came across these comments about the difficulty of doing that and some comments on centering thermals in general.

Here are the main points:

  • The biggest difficulty centering thermals occurs with a combination of windy conditions and narrow thermals.
  • In these conditions, it’s important to stay closer to cloud base where the target will be bigger and there is more room for error.
  • Test several thermals before race start observing the wind and sun direction.  Once you establish the center for on thermal, others should be similar.  You can use external view to determine your position under the cloud.
  • A few tricks distilled from these threads:
    • When you pull up in a thermal, start a slight turn to the right.  If the lift begins to decrease, immediately turn to the left and you should be bang in the center—in theory!
    • If there is no wind, turn 20 or 30 degrees in one direction while pulling up, then turn in the other direction—I’ll really have to test this one!
    • In windy conditions, fly toward the center of the cloud, then leave the center toward the wind direction.  If you fly where you think the center will be, you are taking a gamble.
    • In windy conditions, alter your course so that you enter directly upwind or downwind.
    • I the wind direction and strength vary with altitude, thermals can spiral and be very difficult to find.
    • Be able to thermal equally well in both directions!
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MNS Europe Day 180

This task was in the Provence region of France and used new Condor scenery for that area called Provence 2.  I liked the scenery a lot and just went out and flew the first leg taking numerous screen shots which are shown below.

The task was a lot of fun.  I skipped the first two servers in the 1:30 time slot and waited until 2:30.  This server was well populated but not overly crowded.  I thought I did fairly well for the first 2 and a half legs but things suddenly went sour and I landed out about 13 km from the finish.  This still put me thirty out of 58 as a lot of pilots didn’t finish, including Sandor Laurinyecz.

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Wave Soaring from Lake Tahoe

My brother Puddie is going to Minden Nevada in January to soar.  They have a Duo Discus there and wave soaring.  He wanted to practice the area and the wave so I created a start-only task, taking off from Minden with 50kpmh windows from the West.  I went from there south to the limits of the scenery last night.  The red track is mine from last night.  The short blue track was Puddie getting the wave this morning.

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MNS Europe Day 178

Bad Ragaz
Image via Wikipedia

Day: 178

Date: Mon Dec 05 2011 13:30:00 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)   (05 Dec 2011 06:30 PM UTC)

Class: 15 Meter

Distance: 238.4km

Task: Bad Ragaz LSZE – Sargans Bf – Hoher Kasten Ber – Brunnen Bf – Zuerich LSZH – Bad Ragaz LSZE

The task yesterday used the alps_XL scenery of Switzerland which was very nice and very realistic!  As you can see from the map below, this was not a simple triangle task.  There is an extra turn point added, creating a sort-of figure 8 course.

The take off and finish are in the town of Bad Ragaz shown in the photo on the left.

I believe I probably had about my best result with this MNS Europe race.  I posted 20th out of about 60 racers.  I didn’t seem to make any major mistakes.  I got some excellent ridge/thermal lift on the second leg a few minutes from TP 1.  I also caught a very strong thermal not far from TP 2.  After that I could only find weak thermals and that really slowed me down.  Below, I compare my track with Sandor Laurinyecz and Dmitriy Balykin who finished first and second.  Probably my big mistake was not to fly south to the ridge half way down the second leg where I had planned to go.  I need to study more carefully though.  I might have been better off to fly slower on the last leg and not take the extra thermal that I did.

Monday Night Soaring Contest (Europe)

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Reutte Hoefen 180 (SA)

English: View overlooking Innsbruck.

Image via Wikipedia

I just finished my first and only attempt at this race which is in the Austrian Alps.  I spent a lot of yesterday and most of today trying to learn how to use XCSoar (software on the iPaq that can be used instead of SeeYou PC).  I barely knew how to use it and my concentration was on the software rather than the race so I’m sure I could have done better.  I was 16th out of 39 finishers and a total of 74 racers.

The race take off airport was Reutten Hoefen.  The first turn point was Innsbruck shown on the right.  The Eastern Alps scenery was used which is a bit on the cartoonish side.  Here’s a shot looking back at the Reutte Hoefen airport from TP2.

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MNS Europe Day 177

Aoraki/Mount Cook

Image via Wikipedia

I left work at noon to do the MNS Europe race today.  The race was in New Zealand.  It started in Omarama, took a short jag to the East, then north northeast to Glentanner south of Mount Cook.  There was a little ridge going north where I found some strong blue thermals off certain parts of the ridge.  Mostly it didn’t pan out though and it was largely a thermal race with thermals in the 2.5 to 3 meters per second range.

What was notable about my performance in this race was that I didn’t make any major mistakes except for the start.  I crossed above the minimum start altitude and had to circle back and restart.

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