30 July, Day 4
For the fourth day, all three classes will fly area tasks. Each class today will fly with 3 areas with a Minimum Time of 2 hours. Fear of late afternoon thunderstorms drives this decision, which makes for a short day of flying and a de-valued day, pointswise. Rain is predictedtomorrow, although the weather forecaster thinks flying will be possible.
After the pilot meeting today, conversations focused on the shortness of the day. Most lamented the fact and believed the task was an undercall. After launch, radio conversations suggested a new perspective. "What is the start time?" "I say we go as soon as we can." The sensibility was one of impending doom. Clouds were towering and spreading, and it was growing dark. On task, pilots reported soft, irregular conditions, and yet decent cloud alignment. There were storms, but miraculously, the task setters managed to avoid them. Gary Ittner, AL, concluded that two hours was about the right amount of time to be on task, "Which is weird, because when we were here in 2003, six- and seven-hour tasks were the norm. But I wouldn't have wanted to be out any longer than we were today." Teams disassembled and readied the planes in the cool, under cloud cover, with storms threatening but not materializing.
31 July, Day 5
No Fly Day?
The U.S. team is typically first to weigh and grid. Technically, weighing begins at 8:00, but if you are waiting at the usual spot when the field crew arrives, you can be off the scales and on the grid by 8:15, leaving two hours to work on any technical issues before pilot meeting at10:15.
Today, we drove to the field at the usual time to discover it deserted. One or two teams were filling their planes with water, with little enthusiasm for the task and no hope for the day. Team huts were locked with no insinuation of human presence.
We have little to do but eat breakfast and stare bleakly at the even bleaker skies.
There will be a pilot meeting at 10:15, but no one expects it to result in a task.
But we were wrong! There was a task! For the Open Class only. DB and SS were penultimate and last off the grid but managed to make it to the start gate before it opened. Meanwhile, nine Open Class gliders, or 25% of the class, had landed back at the airport to try again. With pilots waiting anxiously for the announcement opening the task, organizers seemed to delay announcing, and then came the bulletin: Open Class task cancelled for the day. For some, a relief, for many, a huge disappointment. A difficult, challenging day, but that's nothing new for a World Championship.
SS: My opinion? I was the last launch, behind a weak tow plane, and they towed me downwind through the rain to a dead area. I made a u-turn as I released and went back to the only cloud around, which was by the start gate. I climbed up and when the gate opened I left. Not ideal, but possible. . . . Almost certainly a distance day. I like distance days. Then they cancelled.