31 July 2010

Results Contest Day 3 (Open 4)

For the second day in a row Jerzy has maintained 7th place in the overall results which means he is flying among world champions. Congratulations, Jerzy!

However, as he says, there are some big names behind him, so he will be hard pressed. For example, the defending 18m world champion, Olivier Darroze is currently in 12th place  and will be pushing hard to get ahead.

Dave made it around but unfortunately was a bit slow which landed him in 28th place for the day. In the overall results he still managed to improve his standing by 5 places from 40th to 35th place.

Dave's Days 2 and 3

 Day 2

I didn't have much time last night to write about yesterday's flight, but the big problem we had was cirrus shutting down large areas of the sky.  A thick band had passed through and was moving east towards our third turnpoint and I had 1:30 hrs left to cover 200 km, so I decided to turn for the third leg.  In hindsight, this was a poor tactical decision as part way along the third leg, I caught up to the shade from the cirrus and from there it was a smooth glide for another 20 km until I landed out.  I think those who managed longer distances, flew further into the second cylinder allowing them to connect with a few cu to the north and this also allowed the cirrus to move further away from the third turn.  In the 15m class only two made it home out of 49.

Day 3

Today was another tough day, and once again, the 15m class had the worst of it.  The 18 m guys had one turnpoint in the low weak stuff to the west, while the 15 m had the first two turnpoints in the bad stuff and Jerzy thinks that 100 km/hr was slow!  As you can see from my baragraph trace, we were not that high for most of those two legs, in general working around 2000 AGL and less than 1 kt average climbs.  For most of the time on the second leg I was with a large gaggle of gliders, there were probably 20-30 of us struggling to stay airborne.

When we finally got back to the east, a little north of Szeged, things got better again and we were able to climb back up to 4000 in 3-4 kt thermals.  After this point it was a pretty straight forward glide under some large streets.  As you can see from the route below, my last climb was just before the third turn area and then it was pretty much a clear run home climbing under the streets with no need to circle.

100km/h was slow today

Best speed in 18M class 111 km/h with 500m AGL cloud base in the first cylinder.
Very weak West part of the task then improving to the East and approaching thunderstorm from the West. Because of high speeds in my class each km/h is very expensive. Still hanging in the first 10, but big names just behind me. It looks that 18M class flies faster then open.

Update 2

Dave just radioed in saying he is around the third turn. Jerzy is at our base radio giving guidance based on local weather optics. Keep your fingers crossed...

...euphoria in the Canadian camp: Just got word that Dave is 15 km out with plenty of height to make it!

After heavy land-outs on the first day and a mass land-out yesterday, it feels good for a change not to have to go on a retrieve!

Dave is happy he is among the 32 out of 49 15m pilots who made it back on a tricky day.


Jerzy just radioed in saying he is on final glide. We are all overjoyed!

Dave still has 100 k to go. I am watching the radar with concern, trying to steer him clear of some intensifying rain showers on his third leg and in the vicinity of his last turn area. He is flying in a gaggle that seems to comprise the whole 15m class. Stay tuned...

O.K. - Jerzy just landed back at the contest site after completing the task - bravo Jerzy!

I am hearing raindrops on the roof of the hangar -- hmm.

Here is the radar pic from 30 minutes ago:

Of concern are the small cells in the SE of the country


18 m Class Task B is a two and a half hour area task with 3 turn areas and the control point 10k south of Szeged that lines them all up for a finish from the south. The distances are 202 km minimum, 383 km max. I expect that most pilots will finish close to the minimum distance.

15 m Class Task C is a two hour area task with 3 turn areas and the control point. The distances are 164 km minimum, 344 km maximum.

Day 7 - Contest Day 3/4

Good Morning Canada

It looks like we have another difficult day on our hands. The weather forecasts this morning were not very positive but we had hopes they would be wrong when we saw nice cu developing around the Szeged area at noon. Unfortunately, the tops just kept going up and now it looks like it will be over-developing anytime soon. There is rain and lightning west of the Danube which is to the west of here. Although the first leg for all classes goes to the west, they can turn well short of the showers. So far there is no precip in the eastern task area.

As of 13:50 the start gates for all classes are open. Jerzy and Willem are on task. Willem encountered dropping cloud bases on the first leg to the west and has announced that he is abandoning the task and will return to Szeged.

Initially both the A and B tasks for 15m were set almost completely into Serbia but fortunately, the organizers reconsidered and announced a C task that at least keeps them in Hungary. The crossing of the Serbian border for a retrieve, although a lot smoother now, is still an adventure and one never knows what will happen.

The tasks today are fairly short, so let's keep our fingers crossed that Jerzy and Dave complete their tasks and make it back!

30 July 2010

Day 6 - Contest Day 2/3 Digest

To say the day was over-called would be an understatement.

15m Class had 2 finishers out of a total of 49 competitors
18m Class had 9 finishers out of 51 contestants
Open Class had 7 finishers out of 43.

The weather pushing in from the west started to cut off thermals in mid afternoon just as most pilots were on their way to the third turnpoint NE of Szeged.

As the cirrus thickened, the calls came in to get the trailers ready.

Seeing no chance of getting much further, Willem decided to call it quits on the third leg and to struggle back to Szeged after 132 km on task. Diane was glad not to have to go on a retrieve again.

The 15m Class was last to be launched and to start. From the time perspective alone, they didn't have much chance to complete the task since the day was forecast to quit early. Dave ran out of lift and landed in a good field on the third leg 70 km north east of Szeged with a distance of 143 km.

Jerzy is the hero of the day in the Canadian camp. It took him almost 4 hrs to complete the 2:30 area task. For the longest time we didn't hear anything from him, until he called in to announce he will try to make it to the airport at the control point (about 10km from Szeged).
I was in the car at the time on the way to retrieve Dave. Not long after Jerzy's last transmission my mobile rang and Jerzy told me he had completed the task and made it back to Szeged. This really made my day - wow!

Jerzy finished in 7th place for the day in 18m Class. There were only nine finishers in this class today. Congratulations Jerzy!! :-)

The total scores for all days so far, are not reliable yet because data are still arriving as crews arrive.

Day 2 18M

Today we had 2.5 hour task with minimum distance over 300km so no chance to finish task on time .
I started early in group of four gliders . Cirrus was approaching from the west with some windows of blue sky.First turn turn area we reached low but found 1.5 m/s thermal and slowly with the wind went for second area with large deviation to the north , then very long glide to
250 meters AGL then slow climb to 700m and again long glide. After second turn area ,chances to get home were very small, full cover of thick cirrus and no Cu clouds. Finaly at 200m just above edge of town I was able to climb to 750m AGLwith 300m below final glide slope. I followed some frontal clouds and had some low sink, after steering point 10km from the airport I decided that I will land just short of airport but in finish cylinder. But area of low sink helped me again and I finished the task.
I moved in to first 10 after day two . Still 7 days to go and all can happen. Worlds are unpredictable, all can change and rotation of places is very frequent.

Contest Day 2/3

Looks like this will be contest day 2 for the 15m and 18m Classes and contest day 3 for Open Class. We are now on task B for 15m and 18m.

Open Task A:

15m Task Bravo

18m Task Bravo
All our pilots are airborne. Jerzy and Willem have started. The start gate for 15m opened 7 minutes ago at 13:56, so I expect Dave to start shortly. All tasks have a short leg to the west and long legs to the NE, into the eastern part of Hungary.

The concern is an approaching weather system that is already spreading high cloud into the Szeged region which is visible as a layer of cirrus. However, at this point, there are still cu showing under the cirrus. The edge of the heavier cloud is still west of the western turnpoints and we are all hoping our pilots will complete the western part of the task before the crud moves in.

There is also a band of rain west of the Danube but it has dissipated over the past few hours.

Another Day another Chance

Good Morning Canada

It is a sunny day here in Szeged but there is a strong breeze from the south. At 11:30 there is no sign of convection around the airport, although there are some cu showing in the distance in the north. Grid time is 11:45 with a possible first launch at 12:00 noon. All our pilots and crews are out at the grid ready to go. The forecast is calling for a few cu with a base of 1000 - 1500 meters, going up to 1500 - 2000 meters in the peak hours of the afternoon (14:30 - 15:30).

Task A for all classes are assigned tasks with 356 km for Open, 353 km for 18m and 304 km for 15m. Open Class and 18m Class are to launch first, 15m following.

There was a gaggling problem yesterday, so they set very different tasks for Open and 18m today to spread out the field.

There is also a new finish procedure with a 3 km finish circle and a minimum height in response to the terrible accident yesterday.

Dave's Day 1

I had trouble climbing away from tow and had to take a relight which wasn't much better, but I did manage to get to 3000 feet and then into the start cylinder where I thought a nice looking cloud would get me to start height.  I couldn't find any lift under it and nothing else was close by, so I started at 2000 feet and headed out on course.

Five km on course I was down to 1000 feet and the water was all gone. I managed to climb away and make my way around the course and caught up to some of the guys who started 15 minutes before me.  In the end we were all too late and ran out of day about 6o km from home.  The last climb to 4000 provided enough height to glide closer to home, but not to the finish line!

29 July 2010

First Contest Day for 15/18m - Digest

"Canada Base" is providing weather and other tactical information to the Canadian pilots while on task.

It turned out to be a tough day. Dave and Willem landed out on the last leg, Dave about 30km short and Willem 16 km from home. Jerzy made it around but said it was very tough. Dave’s relight of course, caused him to start rather late. The 15m start gate opened at 13:20 and Dave didn’t start until 14:15. The early starters apparently also had problems, so Dave managed to catch up with some 15m guys of the German team.
The results: Open Class, 18m Class, 15m Class

Dave ran out of day and landed 30 km short in a farmer's field.

Willem found a good field and was picked up by Diane, Pim and George.
Photos by George Eckschmiedt.

Sadly, there was a bad accident at the contest site, just as we hooked up the trailer for OX. A glider came in so low that it hit a truck or bus on the road that runs outside the airport fence. The glider then cart-wheeled into the fence which is wire mesh between massive 10 ft high concrete posts with barbed wire on top. Everything on the glider was broken – wings and fuselage, except the cockpit. I saw the canopy open, so I hope the pilot is o.k. I felt helpless as I watched it happen. I didn’t even have a radio to call in a mayday. It seemed to take forever until emergency vehicles appeared.

We later learned that the pilot apparently was not badly injured however the driver of the truck is in serious condition.

18M First Contest Day

It was challenging day today, weak lift with hard to centre core.
I started right on time had good run to second turn point, but I kept to much water for too long .
Large group of gliders were flying together and it was very hard to centre thermal with heavy glider.
On final glide I noticed that I'm 300'under slope 30km from finish and no chance to get extra lift before last turn point. I had to deviate 4km to dying cloud ,but lucky me I climbed extra 600'and made home losing 10 minutes ,but I finished. Other pilots which didn't deviate landed 8 km short of finish line some just 300m from edge of the field. Unfortunately Australian pilot from 15 M class was low over road and had collision with truck. No full information as yet.
Dave and Willem landed out , their crew are on the way to pick them up. In 15M class only small group of pilots finished.

Trouble in Paradise

Dave just called in to hook up the trailer because with his late start he doubts he will make it around. We have already seen a fair number of trailers go out. Both US 15m guys are down. Let's all keep our fingers crossed. You can follow Dave's progress on his Spot trace.

Day 5 - Open Class Contest Day 2, 15/18m Contest Day 1

Good Morning Canada

Weather at 4pm local time: It is a sunny day with good cu but there is also thickening cirrus pushing in from the west as the next system is approaching. There are still cu under the cirrus but they look a bit sick

We have assigned speed tasks for all classes:
Open Class: 5 turnpoint polygon, 379 km
18m Class: 5 turnpoint polygon, 337 km
15m Class: 5 turnpoint polygon, 334 km

The last turnpoint is about 10 km north of the contest site with the purpose to line all the traffic up for the finish.

The launch started at 12:30 into a blue sky with weak convective activity. Pretty soon there were huge gaggles with gliders struggling below release height. There was a steady stream of relights.

Dave fell out but was cleared to land on the hard surface runway which allowed him to keep his water. We had him back in the air a few minutes later.

All our pilots are on task and must have rounded the first turnpoint, perhaps also the second since they are coming back into radio range. The first two turnpoints are to the northwest and west of Szeged. Turnpoints 3 & 4 are to the east and northeast of the contest site. Once they have passed the second turnpoint, things should get a little easier since the cirrus is pushing in from the west. From the airfield here in Szeged we see good cu to the east and northeast. To the west it looks now pretty blue with a few ragged cu under the cirrus.

Let’s hope for the best.

28 July 2010

Day 4 - Canceled

We woke up to a gentle drizzle this morning. A grid time was announced and task sheets were handed out at the pilots' meeting. The cancellation at the end of the meeting came as a bit of a surprise, particularly since XC Skies showed the potential for a soarable window for this afternoon. In fact, the sky is clearing and the sun is coming out.

A number of Open Class gliders landed out in Serbia yesterday. Some pilots and crews didn't come back to Szeged until 3am this morning. Apparently, the Serbian authorities had o.k'd flights into Serbian airspace but the fact that gliders would actually land there had taken them by surprise. Consequently, there was intense scrutiny of all documentation at the border. We learned that it is necessary to have all documentation for pilot, crew, car, trailer and glider handy. It may be a good strategy to send out a car for the pilots, so they are back in time to get sufficient sleep and deal with the retrieve of the glider separately. After all, Hungary is the south eastern frontier of the European Union and its borders with Serbia and Romania are also the borders of the EU.

Ferenc and Dezso, our local radio experts showed up this morning with a new antenna for us. Very generously they declined to be compensated - even for the materials.

The team will take care of housekeeping chores, such as laundry, shopping, etc today. After so many rain days, there is a danger that pilots and crews may have trouble switching back into competition mode, when the weather turns good - something we need to watch for.

27 July 2010

Day 3 Results

While 15m never got off the ground and the 18m task was canceled just before the scheduled opening of the 18m start gate, Open Class actually got a contest day in.
Two Danish pilots flying an ASH 25 and a Nimbus 4 made it around. Everyone else either landed out or started the auxiliary engine at some point in the task to fly home. There was a rumor going around saying that a Russian competitor was stuck in a muddy field in Serbia.

The day was of course heavily de-rated with the finishers receiving approximately 470 points. I am saying "approximately" because the day factors will only be final when all the scores are in and there still seem to be some missing. Click here for the Open Class score sheet.

Interesting to note that even a 42 km "lawn dart" yielded over 100 points or 21% of the winner's score. A 100 km flight, which for an Open Class glider means one climb after the start, yielded 250 points, over 50% of the winner's score.

With rain showers all around the field, the 15m Class is being towed back from the grid to the tie-down area.

18m Class lands back at the field after the task is canceled.

All photos property of Maria Szemplinska

Day 3 Update

Another very difficult day for the organizers to call.

18m and Open Class were launched, 15m never got off the ground. The 18m task was canceled just before their gate opened but Open Class went on task. Some of them are still flying and we are following the progress on screens in the airfield restaurant. The people from "Yellow Brick" arrived yesterday and installed some live trackers in the gliders of the top pilots. The can be viewed here:

15 meter Class:

18 meter Class:

Open Class:

I am sure the organizers' rationale for sending the Open Class on task was that the majority of them have engines and can come back without landing out if they get rained down. Unfortunately Willem, our Open Class pilot, is flying a pure glider and didn't have that option. Looking at a dense line of rain showers on course and a pretty certain off field landing, Willem decided to call it a day and to return to the field. He is also flying an 18m plane in Open Class which is o.k. in strong conditions. But in conditions like today, the big Open Class ships with up to 28m wingspan and glide ratios of over 60:1 have the legs to go through large dead areas behind showers and connect again on the other side.

Maria captured the situation today in a tremendous photo - I will add it later.

Day 3

Good Morning Canada

The weather today is mainly overcast with overdeveloped cumulus. Presently, there is no sun on the ground anywhere. We are simply too close to the low and it's not moving out. At the briefing this morning the weather man let slip that he doesn't see a good chance of flying today. The radar is showing some showers developing to the west of us.

Nevertheless, tasks have been announced for all classes and our gliders are all on the grid. So far first launch is planned for 1p local, one hour from now. Our pilots are resting and preparing.

Stay tuned....

26 July 2010

The Canadian Team gets help from local HAM radio experts

Two years ago, in Luesse, we learned the hard way how important it is to be able to reach our pilots on task to relay the latest weather and other information. Based on this experience we brought a powerful ground station and materials to rig a 4m tall antenna. Unfortunately, transmitting through this antenna during the practice days yielded disappointing results. In fact our simple, quarter wave car antenna turned out to be much better.Fortunately George knows a lot about HF transmission technology. Using the internet and his Hungarian language skills, he made contact with local HAM radio experts who came out to the field today with the necessary instruments to look at our antenna. It turned out that this particular antenna isn't designed for transmitting but for receiving and scanning. What adds further to the problem is that the Canadian Team frequency with 132.025 Mhz is at the top end of the VHF aviation band while antennas are typically optimized for the 122 Mhz range.

Since not much could be done to improve our antenna, our local experts, Gyulai Dezso and Provics Ferenc were so kind to offer to build a new antenna for us in the next few days. "Canada base" should soon have a much clearer voice. Please join me in thanking Dezso and Ferenc for supporting the Canadian Team in such a tremendous way! I will make sure to relay all your comments to them.

On a different subject: We are lucky to have our very own team photographer. Many of you have probably seen Maria Szemplinska's photos in Free Flight and Soaring.

Below are a few of Maria's pictures, capturing the action on the grid, the weather and the mood today:

All gliders have to go over scales as they are being towed out to the grid. Any glider found to be over its maximum take-off weight has to drop ballast water.

The grid boss and his line crew are relaxing before the launch. Once the launch starts, they will be running flat out to hook-up and launch 145 gliders in less than 50 minutes.

145 of the world's best sailplanes are assembled at the launch grid ready to race.

Day 2 Update

Well, first the 18m task was canceled and new tasks were issued for 15m and Open Class. But it didn't take long until the 15m and the Open Class tasks were also canceled.

Day 2

Good Morning

The Weather is a little better than yesterday but still a rather grey sky with ceilings at 1500-2000 AGL. Despite the fact that there are a few holes showing in the overcast and the airmass is very unstable, I believe the prospects for getting a contest day in are slim.

The tasks:

15m Class: Area task, minimum time 2:30 hrs with 205/311/430 km minimum/nominal/maximum distance.

18m Class: 219 km assigned task

Open Class: 254 km assigned task

On all tasks the first leg is to the WNW, second leg to the SE into Serbia, third leg (15m class only) to the east, close to the Serbian / Romanian border and back to Szeged on a northerly track.

We pulled out to the grid in light rain. Launch time has been delayed from 1p to 1:30. For a moment it got a little brighter here in Szeged but it overdeveloped soon after the sun hit the ground and there is rain now (1p) showing south of the airfield.

25 July 2010

Youtube video from the training days

Day 1 Canceled

Good Morning Canada!

This morning we woke up to low clouds and on and off rain which is turning the dust at the airfield to mud. It is also downright cool which feels strange after a week of heat.

By the time we arrived at the field, the day cancellation had already been announced, so we didn't have to make a decision whether or not to prepare the gliders - just in case.

Since there was no task, the pilots' meeting was devoted to safety issues and organizational/technical stuff.

Our pilots and crews used the time to set up some shade for the radio crew which will be essential when the heat returns.

We will be spending the day resting and sorting out some last minute technical problems.

The outlook for Monday is more of the same but at this point Tuesday looks good.

Photos by Maria Szemplinska