14 January 2017

Contest Day 3 Wrap-up

Both our 18m and 15m Teams were on the final leg, when news reached us of a mid-air collision in 15m Class and the subsequent cancellation of the 15m task. Later we learned that the Australian pilot Stehpen O'Donnell and German pilot Michael Eisele had collided with the result that both bailed out. Fortunately, both pilots are o.k. Rumourwise we heard later that one had a broken leg and the other a broken nose. I was shocked as this was the second mid-air collision in just three competition days. Although the first collision had caused only a few scratches on the gliders involved, the whole episode brought back bad memories of Uvalde in 1991 where we had a fatal mid-air on day 4. I am really concerned that if we don't radically change course, we will have a fatality in this competition as well. The organizers called a Team Captains' meeting for tomorrow morning.

Our 18m Team did well with Dave placing 5th, moving up 5 places overall into 4th place and Jerzy placing 15th, moving up 6 places in the overall score to 17th.

Our 15m Team had a tough time making it back to Benalla in blue conditions and a 20kt headwind. There was some anxious waiting until they finally came in after 7p

(Flying) Day 3 - Dave

In 18 m we had a 4.5 hour area task for the day with a max distance of 660 km.  I flew 515 km in 4.8 hours.  At one point on the leg south, the computer was suggesting I would be 1.5 hours overtime.  Fortunately conditions improved!

The launch happened promptly at 1130 this morning without a sniffer and into a sky of cu over the airport.  Our start gate was about 15 km to the south near the foothills and at start time there was pretty much 100% cloud cover at the south end of the line and towards the first turn area to the east.  I had originally planned to go south into the first area, but had to change that plan with no sun on the ground in the sector.

Turning north, there were good clouds until about the middle of the second circle.  From there I pushed north to the back of the circle with the Austrian team and then ran into the third area with them.

On the leg south, they pushed ahead low and I found a good climb that ended up putting me ahead of them by about 20 km at the finish.

The working band today was better than the previous days and I was able to use 3500- 5500 ft with climbs in the 4 kt range.  Once again as I got south towards Benalla, the Warby Range of hills kicked off a good climb to get me on final glide.

The 5th place finish today moved me up to 4th place overall!

13 January 2017

Contest Day 3 - 15:00 update

We had an early launch today at 11:30. The cool air behind the cold front is quite convective and the sky was full of cu at the time the launch commenced. According to the forecast the air will dry up and the cu will eventually disappear later in the afternoon. At the same time the wind will increase from 15 to 20 kts. Thermal strength will stay at 2-4 kts throughout the day up to 5500 feet.

With the long task and not much improvement of the soaring conditions it was imperative to start early. 18m was in front on the grid. Dave (4D) started at 12:46, Jerzy at 12:48
The first leg of the 18m task went under what looked like a pretty solid overcast SE of the airfield. It was a concern but our pilots mastered it seemingly without any major problems.
Our 18m guys are now in the second turn area.

The 15m Class was launched last. Sergei (MS) started at 13:48 and Luke (2W) at 13:57. It looked like Luke had a bit of a problem getting away but he is now well on task with everyone else. Luke and Sergei have just reached the first turnpoint of their 419 km assigned speed task.

 The satellite picture shows blue conditions in the northern part of the task. Click on the picture to see details.


Contest Day 3 - Saturday, January 14

It is a crisp morning here in Benalla after the passage of a cold front yesterday. The organizers seem to have big plans. They are telling us to be ready for first launch at 11:30.
The max temperature for today is only forecast at 26C.


A Task for 15m is a 419.1km assigned speed task
A Task for 18m is an area task with a minimum time of 4:30 hrs

15m Task

18m Task


12 January 2017

Benalla McDonald's

For the competition, each country is sponsored by a local business in town.  Team Canada's sponsor is the Benalla McDonald's.  They put up this awesome sign in their window in support of the Canadians.  Throughout town, store windows are decorated with the other country's flags and gliders.

Virginia and I stopped in today to say thank you and met with their managers, Andrew, Andrew and Virginia.  It turns out, one of the Andrews was born in Toronto so specifically chose the Canadians to support during the competition.

A big thanks to the staff at the Benalla McDonald's for their support of the Canadian Team!

Friday, January 13 - Day Canceled

 A cold front, extending from a Low in the southern ocean is moving through the task area today. At 10am we are under a mid level overcast with rain being forecast for the afternoon as the front moves through.
The competition day along with the briefing was canceled early which is nice as it gives pilots and crews a whole day to rest or explore.

Here are a few noteworthy moments from yesterday:

Dave (4D) received a medal for his second place finish the previous day (Wednesday)

Sergei and Luke, our 15m pilots, moments before being launched into the blue.

Yesterday, our friend and US Team Pilot Sean Fidler won the day in 18m Class - congratulations Sean! Here is the Link to the results
There was also a mid-air collision reported yesterday. From what I have heard so far, the pilots were lucky and there was only minor damage to both planes. Everyone landed safely.


MS - days 1 and 2

These two days have a lot of similarities for me.

It was blue days with thermal heights up to 5000 ft and thermals 3-4 kt , both days we started late and were running out of time to make it home before the end of the day.

Flying in the blue day here it is a gaggle flying and your speed over the course will depend a lot on the group of the pilots you will go on task.  Both days I end up flying with the slow group.. On the first day I was trying to pass the main group and was forced to take a weak thermal being too low, by the time I was high enough to keep moving , they were already out of my reach . On the second day, my decision to restart put me 10km behind the fast group.

We still have 6 -7 days of contest flying and I will try to improve my results .
Sergei , MS

Day 1 and 2 summary - 2W

It is hard to sum up the experience of the past two days.  The amount of concentration required to fly at this level is extraordinary.  After short ~300km flights I am more mentally tired than after 1000km+ record/diploma flights.  It is quite the privilege to fly with and learn from the best pilots in the world.

Luke - 2W

Pre-Start Gaggle - Jan 12 2017

Day 2 - Dave

The task today for 18 m was a 318 km assigned task.  Off tow the day already felt better than yesterday with 2-3 kts up to 4000 ft.  Before the gate opened we were able to climb to 6000 ft a few km from the gate and I crossed the line about 5500 ft.

From there it was a downhill slide for most of the course as we worked a low band from about 2000-3500 ft with the occasional good climb to 4000 or 4500.

Just before the final turnpoint and at 1820, well beyond when we should have been home to avoid the weak end of day weather we hit a quadrant that was significantly better than the rest of the day and took 3 kts up to 5500 ft and then one more 3.8 kt climb to final glide height.

Today really tested my patience as I stuck with the gaggle and fumed in disbelief as they circled in 1 kt lift, but I didn't want to strike out on my own in the blue.  It seems there were a few that tried and ended up landing out.

There was however one pilot, our friend Sean Fidler from the USA, who pushed out on his own and won the day convincingly with a 101 km/hr speed in 18 m.

11 January 2017

Day 4 - Contest Day 2

The day started with a bright blue sky and very low humidity. The conditions were similar yesterday but a strong SW wind suppressed daytime heating and broke up the blue thermals. The wind is a lot lighter today, so we should not have this problem. It will be another blue day as there is no chance for cu due to the low humidity. It is fairly cool with a daytime max of 33 C which makes life easier on the ground but doesn't produce "typical Australian" conditions. During the peak hours the lift should be 5-6 kts up to 5000 - 6000ft.

I am glad they dropped the "mandatory steering point" at the end of the tasks which forced pilots to fly the final leg straight into the setting sun. This was a real safety problem yesterday.

15m Task: AST 337 km

18 m Task: AST 318 km

First launch is planned for 13:00 - 15m will be first to launch.


Day 1 - Dave

The forecast was for low, blue and windy conditions today.  Lift was forecast to be 3-4 kts with top of thermals 5000 ft and wind in the 15-20 kt range giving a buoyancy shear ratio of 3-4 for the day.  End of convection was expected to be around 1800.

The lift forecast was pretty accurate, but max altitude was about 4500 ft.  Fortunately, the wind was lower than the forecast 15-20.  For the downwind first leg I saw about 16 kts wind and for the upwind leg it dropped to about 11-12 kts.  This helped as the thermals certainly didn't feel like it was a buoyancy shear ratio of 3-4.

The day started very slowly and launch was delayed from 1300 to an eventual take off at 1410 with a change to a newly created Task C for the day.  I was 8th to launch today and was airborne at 1415.  Off tow I climbed very slowly to about 3500 ft and 45 minutes later we eventually climbed through 4000 ft. (airport elevation 570 ft).  There was a lot of milling around the start gate waiting for things to improve, but they didn't.  At 1545 most in the 18 m class started on our 282 km task that I expected would take about 3 hours to complete - remember that 1800 end of day?  Well we were now 45 minutes past time to leave to be home by 1800!  As it turned out, the day kept going and the last finisher in 18 M came home at 1941.

The picture below shows my barograph trace for the day and the rather low day we had racing in the blue.  It reminds me a bit of the Provincial competition this year up at Toronto Soaring.

It turns out I was able to keep moving along throughout the course and never found my self too low or in serious trouble giving me a 2nd place on the day.

On the third leg towards home, I was by myself after having been with a large gaggle for the first two legs and when I couldn't see anyone ahead of me, I started wondering if they had left me in the dust and were racing home ahead of me.  It was nice to hear the gaggle calling their 10 and 20 km inbound calls when I was crossing the finish line :)

10 January 2017

Day 3 - Contest Day 1

It is a clear morning here in Benalla. It looks like our 15m and 18m Team will finally have their first contest day. The forecast calls for blue conditions with 5kts lift to 5000ft. Not a great day for Australia but certainly flyable.

Tasks for today are assigned speed tasks, also called racing tasks.

15m Task: AST 337 km

18m Task: AST 431 km
All our gliders are positioned on the grid. First launch has been called for 13:00 which gives our pilots the opportunity to get out of the heat and rest. The launch order today is 18m Class, Open Class, 15m Class. So we have Dave and Jerzy in the front of the grid and Luke and Sergei at the back.
It takes about one hour and twenty minutes to launch the entire grid.

09 January 2017

Day Canceled for 15m and 18 Classes

Well, we were at the grid just before 11:30am but the weather didn't develop as we had hoped. A persistent low cloud deck at 2000 ft above ground kept the sun from coming through. Tobi, the sniffer who is also the task setter reported zero to 1kt lift.

After having postponed the launch several times, at 2:20p the Contest Director canceled the day for 15m and 18m class and asked for speedy removal of the gliders from the grid, so the Open Class could be launched. The start gate for the open Class just opened at 3:40p for a short 2hr Area Task with a nominal distance of 285 km.

Here, at the clubhouse of the Gliding Club of Victoria the races can be followed on big TV screens. They also make wonderful Cappuccinos here that are true works of art.

Day 2 - Contest Day 1?

After pretty steady rain all day yesterday, the weather has improved. There is still an overcast but it is expected to lift during the morning. We will marshal and grid the gliders and the organizers have set tasks.
18m Class will fly a 375 km Assigned Speed Task, 15m Class an AST with 343 km. Both tasks are in the NW quadrant.

18m Class Task:
15m Class:

Off to the 10am Briefing


08 January 2017

Day 1

We woke up to overcast skies and the sound of rain on the tin roof of our hotel. The forecast calls for off and on rain all day with the occasional thunderstorm mixed in. There is a high probability that the day will be canceled - not a good start for the 34th Worlds.

More later

The day was canceled at 11am

I am taking this opportunity to attend the OSTIV (Organisation Scientific et Technique Internationale du Vol à Voile) conference which is running for a week parallel to the Worlds. Very interesting presentations delivered by the likes of Gerhard Waibel (the father of the ASW-series gliders)


Opening Ceremony

Today's forecast called for 40C+ temperatures. Fortunately some friendly clouds kept the temperature in a more comfortable range.

At 5pm the 27 Teams were introduced as they filed into a stadium.

The weather for tomorrow, looks a bit iffy with possible showers in the afternoon. Not sure if we will fly.