Leah and I arrived at the beautiful Caesar Creek Soaring Club last night for the 1-26 Championships. For those unfamiliar, the 1-26 Champs are the only outlet in the US for one design sailplane racing, are organized by the 1-26 Association (www.126association.org), and feature competition among only Schweizer 1-26 gliders. With only 23:1 book performance it might seem suspicious that you could fly cross country let alone race these, but the 1-26 has developed quite a reputation for performance beyond expectations. The pilots have a lot of fun trying to make it around the tasks too.
I have attended the last two Championships, but have flown in parallel regional contests, in my Cherokee II in 2012 and a Windward Sparrowhawk in 2013. This year I'm excited to be flying a 1-26. My ship for the contest is 482 (1-26 Contest ID's are their serial numbers), affectionately known as Joan, the wife of the builder. Yes, Builder. This is a 1-26C, indicating that it was assembled from a kit instead of built entirely at the factory.
The weather this morning was rather uninspiring with heavy cloud cover. As CD Mike Hutchinson started to discuss the weather we were treated to the sound of raindrops on the roof of the hangar. Task was a 1.5 hr TAT to the west, to give a good tour of the local area. Grid time was 1 PM and that was about the time that the cold front passed with clearing skies and cu in all quadrants. Most were late to the grid but Curt Lewis was launched as the sniffer and lift was good enough that the rest of us were launched in short order. I was finding climbs of about 3 knots to over 4000 feet when the gate opened. One nice thing about all of us flying the same design is that you get to fly with your friends, and a group of us all started together. We found pretty consistent climbs over by the Lebanon airport and then headed towards the Hook airport. I was lucky and got off by myself and then found a really good climb over a Steel Mill, averaging 4.4 knots from bottom to top. That thermal was good enough to make my day. I chased a few more clouds upwind but they were dying and I went back to the Steel Mill for another climb, this one not quite as good, which gave me nearly enough to make it around the steering turn and home. A few more turns in one more thermal and I was finished about 5 minutes early.
CCSC then treated us all to a catered dinner and the safety talk. The evening has been perfect with cool temperatures and clear skies. We're staying in a rented RV trailer at the campground here at the field which is really choice I must say. Hopefully tomorrow will feature soaring at least as good as we saw today, stay tuned!