To start, I would like to thank Virginia and Joe Laposnyik who suffered through the heat on the grid each day making sure my glider was as clean and ready as it could be before the flight. Having two dedicated crew was a real asset and saved me from having to over-exert myself and tire before the flights. I often sat in the car while they were toiling away on the runway and thought – wow – how lucky am I! I could not have done it without them.
Our Team Captain, Ed Hollestelle and wife Annemarie were also of tremendous help. Each day Ed would look after all the little details and be on the grid to help us prepare for the flight and offer words of advice and encouragement. While it was Ed’s job to look after us, it was Annemarie’s job to look after Ed and both did a super job.
Before the contest, I set a goal for myself to earn at least 90% (usually 900 points) on each flying day. Doing this would guarantee a good placing. I missed this goal on 5 of the 13 days, but overall achieved 92 % in the final standings.
The 18 meter class was an extremely competitive class as 90% of the winner’s score would have landed you in 21st! By comparison 90% in 15 meter was 9th. Jerzy finished at 94% and that 2% made a difference of 8 places!
The biggest take-away for me is to fix what went wrong on the 5 bad days. On most of these days I started too early because I didn’t have the patience to play start gate games. On some of the days there was a threat of storms coming in, and then they didn’t, so those who gambled and started late were able to take advantage of the better conditions. On my worst day, (day 6, 692 km @117.9 km/hr) I had some bad luck but also became much too conservative at the end. I think I climbed almost 1000 ft too high in a 1 kt thermal and that 10 minutes cost 8 places and 50 points on the day. And, that 50 points would have moved me up 3 more places in the end.
Overall, I am quite happy with my result, but of course would be even happier to have done better.
From an administrative perspective, I think we have learned a lot over the last few years. We had a large contingent of people on the team that allowed for a good distribution of work, in particular, away from the pilots so we could concentrate on task preparations and flying. We had a very good ground radio and antenna that allowed us to talk from as far as 150 km away, thus allowing Ed to relay weather and tactical information to us while on course. Jerzy and I were able to effectively team fly several days and push each other around the course.
Finally, even though I already thanked Virginia, I need to do it again. She is an unwavering supporter and worked extremely hard in the hot, humid and dusty conditions to keep both the glider and me in a top performance state. It really is a huge sacrifice for our spouses to follow us around to these lunatic events :)
See you all in Leszno 2014!