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.