We got a contest day in the bag today, but it was a struggle, and involved a LOT of trailer miles. The weather forecast for the day was for weak-to-moderate lift to around 5000' msl (about 4000' agl), probably with Q's, with winds out of the southwest 15-20kt. B/S ratios in the 5's and 6's in the afternoon, shading toward 4 later in the day. Task A was a 2-hour TAT with first turn 22 Madison 35 miles to the northeast (downwind) with a 20-mile circle, then back to 20 Lebanon just upwind of the airport with a 5 mile circle, then back downwind to CCSC. I exercised my CD prerogative and sniffed myself, and was promptly shot down. After a short delay I launched again, and this time I stuck, finding 1-3 kt to about 4500'. Don Kroesch (DK) also volunteered to sniff, so I had him launched as well. Soon we were both climbing OK if not well, and the rest of the fleet was launched. Both class advisors (Rob Cluxton in 1K for Sports, Erik Nelson in 5E for FAI) were good to go, so the gates were opened and soon everyone streamed out on course. Most pilots reported that they got into the Madison circle quickly and were wondering if maybe I had undercalled the day, but when they turned around and tried to beat their way back upwind they quickly changed their minds from undercall to survival. Ultimately only two of 17 pilots made it around - Kurt Lewis (95) in Sports, and Jeff Russel (TZ) in FAI, with the rest landing in soybean fields or at the many airports in the area. As of this writing, everyone is back safe, and I don't think there was any damage sustained by either pilots or gliders.
I went out to retrieve Robert Norton (7H), and that turned into a comedy of errors. The retrieve desk was sure he had landed at a small airport called Bloom Field near Lake Jackson, OH, but he had actually landed at a small private strip about 10 miles north of there. When I got his trailer together and checked out, I got directions to Bloom and thought nothing of it. Arriving at Bloom about 45 minutes later, I found nothing there except some old, old T-hangars sagging into the dirt, and chest-high corn where the runway used to be. Fortunately Robert and I coordinated on the phone and he was able to talk me through programming the nav system in his oh-so-nice Beemer, and I arrived at the correct airport about 20 minutes later.
The rest of the 7H retrieve story starts when I found that Robert had not hooked up his trailer to his car, and it was an older Komet trailer with lots of odds and ends that had to be done just right. I hooked the trailer to the car hitch, testing it by pulling up hard on the trailer hitch to make sure it was locked on the ball - and it was. Unfortunately, I missed a little secondary locking pin, and the trailer hitch jumped off the ball the first time I went over a bump of any size. This happened twice before I discovered the pin locking mechanism, and on the second time, the trailer hitch went under the car and the car hitch punched a neat hole in the front of the trailer - ouch! So finally I get all this figured out and I'm on my way again, whereupon I discover that the back drop-down door on the trailer isn't locking securely to the worn-out locking rings on the trailer top half, and so it had a tendency to drop down and wave around in the wind a bit - double ouch! I had planned to give Robert the 'have your trailer completely ready for a retrieve' lecture, as given to me by Henry Retting (R) some years ago at my first Seniors contest, but somehow I wasn't all that confident that my vast knowledge and skill was going to be appreciated when I had just punched a hole in his trailer - oops!
Anyway, we have a contest day in, with a decent chance of getting 3 more days in the contest. With any luck at all, I'll still be the CD by the end of it! Stay tuned ;-)