Tag Archive for 2012 US Team Uvalde

Gena Tabery, On the Fly: Teamwork

The United States team operates at a disadvantage, compared to other countries, because its contest rules specifically forbid team flying. Most U.S. pilots have not flown collaboratively with a teammate until they reach the world competition level, and they cannot adequately benefit from the advantages of sharing information in flight.  This spring many members of the U.S. Soaring Team met in Chilhowee, Tennessee for a week specifically to work on team-flying strategies, coached by former  15-meter World Champion Brian Spreckley. The team met again in Uvalde for the informal practice period prior to the official practice week.

Absent from both of those training periods were Open Class pilots Dick Butler and Ron Tabery: Mr. Butler was still finishing his Concordia glider, and Mr. Tabery had work commitments. While the rest of the U.S. team pre-practiced in Uvalde, the Open Class team met up in Kerrville, Texas, to work the tough hill country area away from onlookers eager to catch a glimpse of the Concordia. They also wanted to work on team flying. Both Mr. Butler and Mr. Tabery are known for their individualism, and it was a matter of great speculation as to how well they would take to working together as a team.

All doubts have been put to rest. “Dick is my mentor,” says Mr. Tabery. “There is no one else in the U.S. I would rather fly with.” As for his part, Mr. Butler says, “Ron and I think very similarly. I admire his decision making greatly.” Taciturn on the radio when flying alone, the Butler-Tabery team has astonished their teammates by the amount of consultation and conversation while racing. “Those two are like girls at a prom,” says 15-meter teammate John Seaborn. Mr. Butler has joked, “I’m afraid our teammates are going to kick us off the U.S. frequency if we keep on talking like we have been.”

Other countries very greatly in the time spent training for a world championship. The German team is famous for their organization, and before each championship they spend two weeks training in St. Auban. This year they spent additional time in Uvalde prior to the official practice period. But as is true for other countries, not every team member can get away from work obligations to attend such extended training. And they are flying unfamiliar aircraft. One team member reports that he had flown his new Quintus M exactly twice before it was shipped to the U.S.

The entire Australian team flew at Uvalde last year in the Pre-World competition, and several members of that team had extended practice periods here before this WGC. David Jansen came to Uvalde at the beginning of July and spent the entire month flying here. In contrast, the South African team had no formal training as a team and also have new planes to contend with. Laurens Goudriaan reports having flown his JS-1 four times before arriving in Uvalde. However, that team has the advantage of two sets of brothers who have flown together for years. Similarly the Belgian team does not train, and they are flying ships they had flown only a few times before this competition.

The British team, also flying new planes, goes through no formal training. “But we are familiar with each other and have flown together before. We fly cooperatively,” says Open Class pilot Peter Harvey. The Polish team has no organized training period, but Open Class pilot Wiktor Kozlik reports that at their national competition, they are assigned a partner with whom they will fly at the WGC, and they fly their national competition with that teammate.

The Italian team does not organize a training period for their pilots, but their pilots traditionally have flown with their teammates. Says Katrin Ghiorzio of her husband, 15-meter World Champion Stefano Ghiorzio and his teammate Thomas Gostner,  “Thomas and Stefano always fly together as a team.” They fly several European competitions before the WGC. “But this year,” says Mrs. Ghiorzio, “so many of our European contests had bad weather and rain, and they could not fly. And the conditions here are so different, the practice was not helpful.”

The French, who appear to have more group cohesion that almost any team on the field, devote at least one week each spring to training at the national center at St. Auban. Other than that, says Open Class pilot Sylvain Gerbaud, “We prepare for competitions by flying competitions.” And when he says flying, he means team flying.

Long Racing Tasks

All US Team pilots have started.  Today’s cumulus field is even and widespread and covers the entire Uvalde task area.  Task distances today:  15m: 618k, 18m: 652k, and Open Class:  685k.  Based on their start times, we expect …

Top Of The 12th!

We are in the final two day push towards the finish of WGC here in Uvalde!  But among the U.S. team, optimism reigned all morning for contest day 12.  As Bill Elliot (WE) put it, “Glider pilots are always optimistic.  Even at 500 feet, t…

Team Flying

Looking at Spot Tracker information and listening to radio transmissions it’s clear that Leonard and Seaborn are still flying as a pair and both just reported 30 kilometers out on final glide.  We can see and hear Butler and Tabery and they are st…

All US Team Pilots On Course

The satellite shows very few cumulus along the first legs of today’s tasks so it’s a good day for team flying.  Looks like all three pairs of US Team Pilots are doing just that.  Seaborn and Leonard started together at 1436.  Butler and …

On the Fly, Days 9-10

Day 9 was a day of long distances and fast speeds. Germany’s Open Class Michael Sommer’s (EB) speed of 157 kph (97.5 mph) was the third fastest of the contest. On Day 5, Mr. Sommer flew the second fastest race of the contest with 159.2 kph (98.09). But the top speed of the competition thus far is that of Open Class pilot Peter Harvey of Great Britain (CA), at 161 kph on Day 7, or 100 mph. Conditions have also allowed several long distance days. Two days included tasks over 700 km, four over 600 km, and one over 500 km. Only two days have been called under 500 km.

Speeds and distances like these are what have endeared Uvalde to Americans and made it legendary in Europe. The first glider competition I attended was the 1999 WGC in Bayreuth, Germany. When Europeans found out I was from Austin, Texas, the first question they asked was, “Is that anywhere near Uvalde?”

At the beginning of Day 10, Germany remains in first place in the Team Cup Competition with 8243 points; Great Britain is second at 8202, and Poland is third with 8194. Organizers calculate the team cup points by averaging all scores of all pilots flying for a given country, accumulated to this point.

Although there were some exceptionally good moments on Day 9, it was also a day full of holes into which one could step. Day 10 is forecast to be windy, dry, and blue. Windy it is: while one of the line crew amused himself by jumping on a pogo stick, a pilot observed that his vertical jumps were not much higher than those of the wingtips bouncing in the breeze. It is windy enough on the ground to shroud the grid in a continuous cloud of dust, but some pilots familiar with the area question whether it will be as blue as forecast. All three tasks are fraught with danger, as they all approach or in some cases overlap restricted or forbidden air space.

Dreaming Of A Cloudy Day

Blue right…  The sky’s view from the grid this afternoon was packed with clouds, to say the least.  It is nowexpected to blue out later in the evening.  Here in the team room, they are waiting for the pilots to hit the start gate. &nbs…

Team Spirit Day 10

Success!  Everyone made it to the team meeting this morning after last night’s international party!  And what a night it was.  The U.S. Team’s tamales were great, and it was even better watching people attempt to chew through the co…