Day 5, US Region 10

Today’s task was a “Banquet Task”.  2:30 from Llano up to San Saba (15 miles), FLF Gliderport (25 miles), and Mason (20 miles).  Minimum distance was a mere 76 miles so even I would have to actually go inside the circles.

Yesterday Frank (TA) and I had a discussion about why I always start right away.  I perfectly understand the strategy of waiting to start late as the day develops to its best but I also know that if I run into trouble in the Cherokee I’m going to need time to dig out.  Once again today I was the first one out the gate, perhaps 500 feet below max start height for the downwind run to San Saba.  That leg was pretty easy with high groundspeeds and only one or two thermals.  Clouds were already forming on course and I was waiting to see a coherent group of clouds connecting to the east side of Lake Buchanan before I turned.  I wanted to avoid any possible weak area to the downwind of the lake.

Once I decided to turn east I managed to connect with a great group of short cloudstreets running straight into the wind.  My strategy, per the last few days, was to do no circling unless I was below 6000 feet.  I managed to run straight into the wind for nearly 25 miles on streets all while staying high!  SeeYou says the average L/D for this portion was in the 140’s!  Thanks to this monumental run my groundspeed was still in the 45 or 46 range.  Now I just had to decide when to turn back west towards Llano.  I did some mental calculations and figured that when I had about 50 minutes left I would turn.  Running west I tried to cheat a little south to minimize the headwind on the final leg back to Llano.  Visions of my Day 2 landout were still haunting me so I wanted to do everything I could to avoid that again.

The run west was awesome.  I found a 5 knot thermal right over the middle of the lake and then just southwest of Llano caught an 8 knot thermal to my best of the day, about 9500 feet.  Now that I was seriously local to Llano I decided to keep it that way.  I ran out to the Mason circle and continued until I was 15 miles out with 15 miles remaining.  I was about 10:1 to make it back to Llano but I knew that my speed would be fantastic even if I came in a bit under time.  So I turned back.

The final glide back to Llano was mostly at about 80 mph indicated just to get down and I still finished at something like 3000 AGL.  Oh well.  The Oudie showed my average task speed at 50 mph although my scored speed was a bit slower due to being about 4 minutes under time.  I didn’t care, this was certainly a career best flight.  Fantastic speed, never got low, and everything just worked awesome.

YYY and I ended up winning the day and moved up to 3rd overall.  I was amazed and very pleased to make the podium.  All the other pilots made it back today, all with smiles on their face.  It was definitely a fantastic day of soaring for everyone.  The awards banquet was a great time.  Bob Holiday and I were proud to present the James LeSueur Memorial Trophy on behalf of the Kansas Soaring Association to the Region 10 Champ, Frank Paynter (TA).  Great job Frank!

My flight from today:

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