Nick, Practice days 4 and 5.

Nick, ST - Practice Day 4, 31 July

The task was an assigned task of 545 km. The weather forecast was blue with thermal tops 9000 MSL.

The 15m grid is behind the 18m today and my take-off spot is 71st. The launch started late and my take-off was at 14:21, with a start just before 15:00. Finishing the task was going to be difficult and past 7PM. My PDA had a message on the screen indicating that I had no GPS connection. My secondary logger looked OK, so I continued on. There were sparse CUs on the first leg and part of the second leg and my speed was 133 KM/H on the first leg and 127 KM/H at the second turn. I was flying with a group of 9 gliders. The last 40 km of the second leg was in the blue and it was a very long glide before getting a thermal, down at 3600 MSL, and it was the same on the third leg. At the third turnpoint we got down to 2800 MSL before finding lift, I could see the Cus to the north, so it was a question of reaching these CUs again, and the glide to reach them was 50 kms. With a slight tailwind, my speed improved back to 133 KM/H. The group of gliders separated and I lost track of all when I stopped to climb to 9000' at 6 kts. It was looking quite blue to the north and the next Cu had only 4 Kts. With 85 Km to go in the blue to the turnpoint and then 75 km for home for a total of 160 Km, it would take 1 1/2 hours and it was already 6 PM. I decided instead to abort the task and head for home, 120 km away, with a few wisps along the way. I got back at 6:45 PM with an overall speed of 133 KM/H. I learned that most of the 15m class aborted the task as well, except for one pilot who actually completed it.  It turns out my primary logger died due to heat. I put it in the fridge for 20 minutes and was able to get it going again. Dan brought along a Volkslogger as a spare logger in case we needed it. It will be installed the next practice day since we need an official log before the actual competition starts.

Nick, ST - Practice Day 5, 1 Aug

The task was an area task with a nominal distance of 405 Km. The weather forecast was blue with thermal tops to 8500 MSL. I had an ice pack on the primary logger in the cockpit that was removed just prior to take-off.

I was first to launch in the 15m class with only the official sniffer in front. I was concerned about relighting and weighed my options for a relight procedure. After release, I lost 500' in sink before finding some weak lift, and eventually climbed to 6000 MSL. There were some wisps and I was able to climb to 7500 MSL in a gaggle. Everybody was milling around waiting, and I got back down to 6000'. Getting back to 7500', everyone was still playing start gate roulette, so I decided to go. I saw two gliders circling way out on course. It's best to start with a gaggle on a blue day, especially when the thermals are widely spaced as they are in Uvalde. If you miss one, you can find yourself quite low and have to take weak lift. On the first leg I took 4.6 kts to 6000' and tried to catch up to the two gliders in front. I got there at 3000' and circled with them in 4.6 kts. They kept going straight, and I detoured 30 degrees left to a nice looking CU. That was a mistake! By the time I got there, the Cu had gone, and I couldn't find anything. I saw the two gliders circling on the right. I pushed on in sink towards a fire, but it didn't work, and pushed on back on track. Found 3.5 kts for a few circles and moved on and finally found 5.2 kts, but the damage had been done. Given my speed and distance to go, I decided not the extend in the first cylinder. I had a long 43 km glide in sink and found 5.3 knots to 8000' then 6.6 kts to 9000'. I couldn't find better than 4.5 kts after that. I decided to extend in the last circle in case I found a good thermal and  also to avoid coming in early, but I couldn't connect. The last leg was a bit difficult, going down to 3600' and taking 3.3 kts to get close to final glide height. There was a lot of sink on the way in, with an L/D of  only 30, with a slight tail wind. I fell below glide slope but got a bump 2.5 km before the finish circle, but then fell back into sink. I pulled up sharply at the 3 km line and tapped the altimeter to see if I could make the 1600' minimum. It turns out I was 11 feet short on the primary logger and 8 feet short on the secondary logger. The Volkslogger worked well in its location in the cockpit, but the battery died 2/3 through the flight. We thought the flight log would still be OK since the security was good, but the Scorer needs a complete log showing the landing, so it was rejected.

Nick, ST - Practice Day 6, 2 Aug. A rest day today. Need to figure out a way to power the Volkslogger.

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