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.
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.
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.
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.
Some US pilots started up a new race series on www.gliderracing.com, the site that hosts the Monday Night Soaring Series. The U.S. race is held every night at 9pm. That’s usually too late for me, but you can download the flight plan after the race and do it offline. I did that this morning. The race was an AAT with a distance of 150 km and a minimum time to complete of 1 hour.
Below you can see the task with the two large 12 km areas at TP1 and TP2. The object is to fly as far as possible within the designated area in a time of one hour or greater. Your competition speed is calculated by dividing your time on course by the distance made good between the start, TP1, TP2 and the finish. In the graphic below, the solid red line shows my actual track around the course. The dotted red line shows the straight line distance between the extremes of my track. On TP2 I went outside the area for a few kilometers. That distance doesn’t count, so you can see that the dotted line stops at a point intersecting my track and the outer perimeter of the TP2 area before turning back to the finish. From this I can see that I would have been better off continuing south before turning toward the finish on final glide.
Here was my strategy and mistakes that I apparently made. The wind was from 316 degrees so I was flying directly into the wind on the first leg (TP1 is the upper left circle). Because of this, I wanted to make this leg as short as possible. Ideally, I would fly only to the nearest edge of TP1 (You have made the “turn” wherever you cross the perimeter of the turn point.) I didn’t do this because I needed to average 20 minutes or more per leg so that my total time would be equal to or greater than one hour. My time to the perimeter of TP1 was about 19 minutes but, because of flying upwind, this leg should take more time to fly a given distance then the next two legs. It’s OK to fly longer than the minimum time as long as you can maintain or increase your average speed. What you want to avoid is flying a shorter duration than the minimum time. If you fly less than the minimum time. your average speed will be calculated by dividing your time en-route by the minimum time, rather than your actual time. To avoid this scenario, I extended leg one a bit beyond 20 minutes and planned to fly deep into the TP2 area to extend my distance before turning on final glide for the finish. If I could have continued leg two straight to intersect the perimeter further south, I think I could have had a little better average speed. I would like to have been able to turn on final glide a bit sooner. I had almost enough altitude at the point that I turned East and caught my last thermal a bit outside of the perimeter. The problem is that I would have arrived early at the finish.
This was a fun task with strong and plentiful thermals. It allowed me to concentrate on my AAT strategy rather than survival.
All I can say is that I made it. conditions seemed considerably worse than yesterday, which is perfectly possible because weather is set to random to prevent cheating. Today’s track is in blue. Perhaps I should have gone for ridge lift on the first leg where I did yesterday (see the red arrow pointing out the spot.)
Thermals were pretty much useless. The best combination was a thermal going off on a ridge, which I managed to use a few. The green arrow near TP2 marks the area where I took advantage of ridge lift that worked out better than I hoped for. The problem is, it took me much to long to get there!
It’s been several weeks since I did an online glider race. I just made a first attempt at the Team South Africa Rieti 195. I crashed several kilometers from the finish! I should have know better than to rely on the mountains (indicated by the red arrows) below to gain enough altitude to complete the last leg! I should have tried to gain more altitude on the steep slope indicated by the green arrow.