The Soaring Café congratulates Chip Garner, the 2012 U. S. 15 Meter Class champion, who bested his countrymen at May's contest in Mifflin, Pennsylvania. We also congratulate Greg Cole and his team at Windward Performance, for providing the brand new DuckHawk sailplane that Chip flew to victory in Mifflin. Jerzy Szemplinski, our Canadian friend and competitor in many U.S. regionals and nationals, emerged with the highest cumulative score, so we offer another 'high five' to Jerzy for his sterling performance. Jerzy's wife Maria took the gorgeous photos that she graciously permitted the Café to feature in our photo gallery. If you haven't seen Maria's stunning photos of the 15 meter nationals, stop reading this right now and visit her Soaring Café gallery. It's OK, go ahead; we'll wait. . .
Maria's gallery comprises 244 spectacular photos. Number 65 is a picture of Chip in theDuckHawk (see photo above), number 86 shows a crowd admiring the new glider, and her last photo, number 244, shows the winner and runners-up: John Seaborn (2), Jerzy (highest score), Chip (1), and John Cochrane (3).
Chip's win in the DuckHawk is a significant event in the history of U.S. competition soaring. This is the first time since 1975 when Ross Briegleb won the 6th U.S. Standard Class Nationals in a Laister Nugget that a sailplane designed and built in the U.S. has won a U. S. Nationals.
We asked Greg Cole to comment on the win and Windward's preparation for the contest. Here's (part of) the backstory.
"It has been many long hard years to get to this point. On Monday before the Nationals, we installed seals but did not like them due to friction and we pulled them off and put it back together as we had configured it previously. The plane left our facility on Tuesday after a day of getting the ground handling gear together and rewiring the trailer (of course new wires, connector, lights, etc all starting with hooking up expecting to go). Doug (Ironman) Taylor then left at 5:00 PM after a full day of work, without the slightest grumbling, and drove 24 hours straight to hand the plane off to Chip.
"That is just a single example of the effort everyone has put in because we believed we could win if we got to the race. I am not sure if this is to be appreciated or not but the aircraft now has 20 flights on it at the end of the Nationals.
"Special thanks go to Chip who went into the nationals with only about 1.2 hours of flight time in the DuckHawk. Even at the end of the contest he was still getting dialed into the plane. We have much to learn and there is lots of fun to be had by all [DuckHawk] pilots during this process. Exciting times I think.
One important comment: The DH was never intended to just be a strong condition ship. It had to be a better sailplane in all conditions. The extra speed and strength are intended to open up dynamic soaring, something we know precious little about."