US Sports Class Nationals Practice Day 1

Greetings from Midlothian, TX, home of the Texas Soaring Association, hosts of this years Sports Class Nationals. I'm here flying a 13 meter Apis. My sister Amy is assisting as my expert crew. We arrived last night after finishing up the Region 10 North contest back at home. I was the CD there and Amy ran the retrieve desk. Let's just say that she stayed pretty busy.

As one would expect the weather for the Practice Days is forecast to be pretty good here. The forecast then calls for a chance of storms on Tuesday when the actual contest starts. Today I expected a blue start with about 5000 feet at launch time increasing to 7000 feet with clouds later in the day. It heated up quicker than expected though and we had plenty of cu in the sky by the time the launch started at 1 PM.

Team F1 rolling to the grid

Team F1 rolling to the grid

I'm flying in the Club Class here, given my handicap. We're split into Club and Modern Classes here, with the cutoff at a handicap of .94. I think about 3/4 of the Club Class flew today and we had several small gaggles before the start. I think most of us started just out the top of the 6000' tall cylinder. The task was an MAT with the first turnpoint of West, TX. From there we could fly to any turnpoints we liked to fill the 2.5 hr minimum time before a final turnpoint of Maypearl and then a finish at TSA. The first leg was fun as the pack passed by me on their way. Plenty of markers helped me stay focused and find the best climbs. Pretty much every thermal along the way was marked. After getting to West, everyone scattered. I chose to run along the windline up and down the Interstate. It helped that the clouds looked really nice that way too. To the west we expected higher cloudbases but it seemed the cu were thinner out there. I found good climbs and didn't really take anything under 3 knots. Occasionally I would find a short burst better than 5. I turned back south after reaching the Luscombe Acres turnpoint, about due west of TSA.

On the way back south I dialed in the Abbott turnpoint which worked out to bring me in just over minimum time. Abbott is between Hillsboro and West. I saw a few gliders along the way but not too many. On the way back from Abbott I tanked up in a thermal with JP Stewart (X8) which just got me final glide back home. Along the way i gained a little and then lost some, so I took a few turns in a good 4 knot thermal near Maypearl and then of course couldn't get down, blazing the last 10 miles at at least 80 knots. I finished along with a bunch of other guys, and we all sorted ourselves out pretty easily and landed.

My speed was around 53 mph raw and about 60 mph handicapped. It appears that I won the practice day. Hopefully I can keep that up when it really counts!

Tomorrow the forecast looks similar and then we have the mandatory contest meeting and a BBQ at the airport. Keep an eye on the SSA website for scores, tracking, and reports.

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