2013 1-26 Championships- Moriarty

Moriarty Practice Day 2

Today we had an… interesting practice day at Moriarty. It was very good in some places and very scratchy in others. Contest Director Chip Garner called a 2 hour one turnpoint MAT to Chilili and most of us 1-26ers/13.5 drivers launched with Bill Hill’s optimistic weather forecast and prospect of good lift. However, other than a couple good thermals in the vicinity of Moriarty, the first leg was painfully slow for most. The thermals were occasionally marked by wisps except for a huge line of clouds on the Eastern side of the Manzanos. Most of the 1-26 drivers turned back from Chilili, though a couple pressed on to the line along with most of the 13.5 drivers. That line was freakin’ amazing! Sustainable lift was even recorded at 1500fpm! With the exception of one uneventful landout, everyone made it back to the airport.

One interesting thing to note is the peculiar nature of flying in two different contests with two seperate rules at the same time. For instance, 1-26 rules allow for starting out the back-side of the sector, whereas 13.5m/Sports does not give you credit for that distance. One cannot climb above 17,500ft without getting penalized in 13.5m class, however the 1-26s can climb right up to 18,000ft. The finish sector for the 13.5m class is 3 miles with a minimum finish height of 7500ft whereas the 1-26 finish is a 1 mile sector with no minimum finish height. These, among other differences in rules will probably make for some interesting in-flight tactical decisions favoring one type of scoring or the other.

Brought to you by the 1-26 kid,

Daniel Sazhin (563)

Aero Club Albatross

Day 1

Today was a very challenging day in Moriarty. Chip Garner called a 3 hour TAT with large sectors to allow pilots to run up and down the Manzanos/Sandias and potentially contact a convergence if it were to set up later in the day. The day, however started fairly late, with the start gate opening around 14:19pm. The conditions were quite squirrely unless one was on the booming thermal street that set up along the mountains. However, once on the line, it was possible to run for miles and miles without circling, anywhere from 12,500ft up to cloudbase which was around 14,000ft at that time. A couple pilots managed to make it over to the line of clouds on the other side of the valley in the 13.5m class. Guess those shiny glass wings are occasionally useful! There were some landouts, one notable one being 142 that landed in a ranch that was padlocked. Last we heard was that the situation was resolved when the sheriff was able to contact a ranch-hand or owner of the property to be able to unlock the gate and retrieve the glider many hours after the unfortunate pilot landed. Otherwise, it was a grueling day well done and hopefully Bill Hill’s forecast of continually improving conditions comes to fruition.

Till next time,

Daniel Sazhin (563)

(PS: If one would like to see the contest results, go to http://126champs13meter2013.abqsoaring.org/126scores.html for 1-26 and http://126champs13meter2013.abqsoaring.org/13m.html for 13.5m results.)

No Contest Day

Today the winds picked up out of the SSE bringing in Monsoonal effects… namely a thunderstorm that spewed cirrus all over the start area. After a third of the fleet launched, Chip Garner elected to cancel the day as it seemed hopeless to get in a safe and fair task at that point. A couple pilots were able to marginally stay up in the local area, with reports of climbs no higher than 11,800ft over one local hotspot near the airport. At 4:30, most of the pilots went over to a local Mexican joint called Sombrero and had a good time.

Better hopes for tomorrow!

Daniel Sazhin (563)

Day 2

To fly or not to fly, that was the question. Bill Hill had a rather pessimistic forecast this morning, calling for rampant OD and precipitation all around the task area. However, it looked rather optimistic when Chip Garner started the launch and eventually opened the start-gate. There was a great cycle of clouds that generated climbs to a reasonably comfortable altitude of 11,500-11,800ft. However, those who did not immediately punch out on course when the start opened found themselves scratching out of the start sector a good bit lower as mid-level clouds started rolling in and billowing towering Cu formed and started dumping rain. After going to the first sector in Palma, the conditions looked fairly bleak heading toward the second and third turnpoints at Chilili and Estancia East respectively. The wind had picked up to a consistent 15 knots or a little over from the South, presenting a challenge to some of the 1-26 pilots. A large street ODed along Rt.41, which killed most of the lift heading into the Chilili sector. As a result, many landed out or landed back at the airport.

It was a good day to make it around as there was a great evening planned at the Southwest Soaring Museum. It worked out very nicely with the Sons of the Rio Grande, a leading Western music band in the state playing just for us. Steak and Salmon were served and everyone had a grand ol’ time.

Let’s hope that tomorrow brings more favorable weather…

Daniel Sazhin (563)

Day 3

Thanks Bill Hill for your pessimistic forecast because it was pretty good! Two days ago when Bill had an optimistic forecast, we had a no-contest day… yesterday he said he thought we would not get a day in… and we did! Keep the pessimistic forecasts coming Bill!

Anyway, this day was marked by an abundance of Cu at around 12,000ft. It was a relatively easy day to stay in the air, which is clear given that most of the field made it around, but it was a tricky day to really press fast because the clouds were not all that comfortably high over the terrain. The 2.5 hour TAT task first took us out East to Clines Corners, where a couple nice North/South cloudstreets set up. The winds were out of the South and pretty strong. There were times the winds were up to 20 mph! The second turnpoint with had a large turn area over Lamy Junction. Chip Garner stated that the task was meant to account for the drier air moving in from the South and up North, it was a bit ugly with showers and over-development. The last turnpoint was over Pedernal, which also gave the contestants an opportunity to run the streets back South. However, the day seemed to start falling apart at 4:30pm over a large area in the South and a lot of contestants returned at that time. Abundant sink was to be found on the final glide…

Of note, Francois Pin flew an extraordinary flight, more than 10 mph faster than any of the other contestants. Kristen Farry had here first land-out, which was in the Alburqurque Soaring Club 1-26. It was uneventful and she was rather excited to have made it to all of the turn sectors! Overall, a very nice day.

Looks like this Southerly flow is not going to break tomorrow… here we go again.

Daniel Sazhin (563)

Day 4

Hallelujah, Bill Hill was pessimistic again! It did look pretty ratty in the morning though, so Chip Garner decided to shorten the task from 2.5 hours to a 2 hours TAT, taking us out to the Eastern high ground again. Early on, the clouds seemed to be developing much quicker and OD looked inevitable. However, a drier airmass moved in and the OD held off! Those huge Cus didn’t overdevelop and we had unbelievable streets. The cloudbase was only around 12,500ft, however there was a line running North/South from Clines Corner that if timed right on the start, allowed for runs at 70 mph without circling for miles on end. Ron Schwartz did around 57 mph RAW, blowing everyone away. It looks like today will bring even drier air and higher cloudbases. I guess days like yesterday are why we came to Moriarty… 🙂

Day 5

Darn, Bill Hill just had to be optimistic today… After the great day we had yesterday, it seemed that today, with a drier airmass with less wind should be absolutely phenomenal. However, it amounted to a fairly challenging day.

Chip Garner called an ambitious 3 hour TAT  task, taking us East to Clines Corners, North up to Glorieta and South to Padernal. The threat today was the airmass drying out to the South and it seemed that Francois Pin was the most frightened when he exclaimed at the pilot meeting, “BLUE!? I HATE blue!” It became evident that the day was going to be challenging right in the start sector. It was rather challenging to climb up to cloudbase and some pilots elected to leave the start sector lower to get on course such as to come back before it’s too late. However, closer to Clines Corner the thermals became better organized and more defined, with better streeting as well. The run up North with the tailwind was very nice for about half the way into the Glorieta sector. However, at that point the street which was running comfortably between 11-13,000ft disappeared and it became very challenging. There were sizeable blue areas to traverse and the sink was ATROCIOUS! Furthermore, the wind seemed to constantly shift direction, which broke apart and moved the thermals, making it difficult to get a good, consistent climb. Some even found themselves scratching down low, looking at rather undesirable places to landout. However, some went deep into the first sector due to the threat of blue down South later in the day, and it worked out well for everyone. There was not a single landout today! There were a couple land-backs at the airport prior to the start, but it seemed that with the Shaws present and the 1-26 annual meeting about to commence, landing out was not an option!

Overall, it was a satisfying albeit challenging day, that brought out the good, the bad and the ugly in the Moriarty sky. But that’s what we’re here for, right?

Daniel Sazhin (563)

Day 6

What a day! Today we had a 2 hour TAT that took us to the Manzanos to the West and then into the valley with the turnpoint Encino. It looked rather promising on the grid as the sky was filled with Cu to the South of the airport and the obligatory cloud street on the Manzanos was cooking. However, heavy cirrus was rolling in from the South as the start-gate opened and by the time the contestants reached the second turnpoint, it looked pretty ugly. Some elected to storm down the street and pray that convection would hold up long enough to make it back, and others didn’t dare go deep into the muck and elected to go to the second turnpoint earlier. Both approaches worked out well for the day winners Tony Condon and Ron Schwartz… Tony cut across early and found the sunny areas and Schwartz flew down the street as far as he could go and scratched it back to the airport. Surprisingly, most made it back that day. The only two land-outs were Bill Vickland and Bill Snead, who landed out after trying the task the second time. Overall, a very challenging but satisfying day.

Daniel Sazhin (563)

Day 7

Last day of the contest…. oh boy! The weather looked pretty sketchy in the morning, especially after all of the cirrus we had yesterday. However, the forecast looked optimistic enough that we should get a day in. Bill Hill predicted that we would have a similar convergence as the previous day form over the Manzanos and we did. In fact, this convergence made a peculiar U-shape, which extended almost all the way over to the airport. Chip Garner called a two hour TAT which first took us to Ortiz Mine and then over to the Manzanos and return. The 13.5m contest decided to take a rest day since we had so many consistent days of flying. The conditions were fairly reliable, though with a cloudbase of only 11,500ft. It got fairly soft heading into the first sector, and many elected to turn fairly early, heading toward the billowing convergence/cloud street to the Southwest. Once under that street, it was possible to run at times at 80 mph right at cloudbase! However, the bad news was that while the street ran through the middle of the turnpoint, it curved over perpendicular to the mountains, leaving little opportunity to follow it deeper into the first sector. In fact, on the other side of the street, there were only a couple scrappy Cu that made it quite the challenge to go farther. Ultimately, yours truly elected to come back early and not risk landing out while Schwartz went in far. The street started to fall apart and by the airport there was a thunderstorm brewing that made for some gusty conditions on the surface. Ron managed a fantastic flight, substantially winning the day, but just barely was not able to close the point gap.

Tomorrow the 13.5m contest will fly a task and there will be a special task for the “Champion of the Champions” trophy for the 1-26ers attending who have won 1-26 contests in the past.

Daniel Sazhin (563)

Conclusion

Well folks, our two weeks of spectacular Moriarty soaring are at an end. Thanks to all of the help from the contest administration and personnel, we had a very successful contest that had most of the pilots wishing to come back to fly in the 1-26 championships in the future and in Moriarty again.

In terms of tasking, Chip Garner did a fantastic job of contest directing and did his absolute best, with the help of his trusty advisors Francois Pin and Ron Schwartz, to make tasks which were fair, fun and safe for all the contestants. While all of the 1-26 tasks during the contest were Turn Area Tasks (TATs), they weren’t HATs as some of our esteemed glass pilots may think they were. While the turn areas were large, the nature of the Moriarty sky is that there is generally a defined cloud street over the high ground to the East or the mountains to the West. This meant that there was generally little incentive to deviate from the line and the vast majority of competitive pilots were in the same general area in the sky. However, the fact that the tasks had such large sectors, it allowed some of the lesser experienced pilots to be able to nick the sectors close in and experience contest flying and completing tasks for the first time. This makes the contest more fun for ALL those involved, as the tasks are doable for the whole field and in the case of Moriarty, the tasks do not lose fairness due to the size of the turn cylinders.

The weather held up fairly well and it was possible to fly every day for 11 days in a row! We only cancelled one contest day and this was because an unexpected thunderstorm anvil created cirrus that dampened convection enough to make a task not doable. However, a couple of us still even managed to stay up for a while on that day! With respect to the contest, the weather made for some interesting tasking and strategy. We never really had what would be considered in Moriarty to be “strong” weather. In fact, there were very few days when the locals even bothered showing up to the airport! However, to Eastern standards, the weather was very reliable and easily soarable. We started the contest in a strange Monsoonal weather pattern with a lot of moisture. Over the duration of the contest, it got progressively drier and drier. I think it would be safe to say we had three weak days that made for some interesting flying. These days had cloudbases at around 11,000ft and generally had problems such as over development, rain or high cloud cover. We had one day that was truly strong and this was Day 5, when Ron Schwartz flew 57 mph RAW. There was fantastic streeting that day due to there being enough moisture to cause strong lift, but since there was a drier airmass moving in, it never stopped working. On the last two days, we had a convergence pattern set up near the Manzanos which some pilots were able to work effectively. Overall, the weather has been very dynamic and made the contest more complicated and fascinating.

In terms of the grid, launching and retrieval processes, this contest ran very smoothly. Even though there was not the expected CAP support, everyone had enough help from one another and from contest personnel that everyone was able to easily make it to the grid with time to spare. There was no 1-26er ever left behind! Mark Mocho (sorry if I spelled your name wrong) did an excellent job of running the grid. I guess the contestants were so scared of being the target of his sense of humor that they did everything they were supposed to! We were consistently launched in less than an hour thanks to the four towplanes provided by the Albuquerque Soaring Club and their experienced towpilots. With the exception of a broken weak link in the very first stages of tow, there were no premature termination of tows or any unexpected events. Connie and Bob Hudson very effectively ran the retrieve office, making sure everyone got back safe and sound. Probably the most demanding retrieve happened on the first day of the contest when Jim Bob landed out in 142 on a huge ranch and Bob had to contact three separate sheriff county offices to figure out who was in charge and who could help with the retrieve! Thank you so much for your prompt support on such a consistent basis. Also thanks to Kevin who helped every day on the line and getting pilots back upon their return back to the airport.

The social events were well attended and quite enjoyable. The night in the park was quite fun with most of the pilots and crew all sitting in a circle trading stories about their flights, all while with a plate of excellent food from Nachos, a local Mexican food joint. The night at the Southwest Soaring Museum was also quite enjoyable, allowing pilots to meet the great George Applebay and see all the awesome gliders while enjoying each others’ company. Pete and Judy Vredenburg went well beyond the call of duty in terms of making the contest an enjoyable experience by organizing these events and making everything run smoothly for everyone. They even had special belt buckles made for those who had ordered them and had gift bags with appropriate local information, maps, water bottles, patches, among other things ready for ALL pilots in the beginning of the contest. Well done Pete and Judy!

Also, it would be fitting to mention the success of the one day “Call of the Champions” race created by Pete Vredenburg this year. The premise of this race is as an invitational to any previous 1-26 champion to come and race against other 1-26 champions on a task that they decide amongst themselves to win a keeper trophy. Pete had a magnificent trophy made that sported a carved bald eagle head mounted on a base of wood. It is really the most beautiful trophy I had ever seen and quite fitting for the occasion. ASC provided free tows to the five champions who flew a 153 mile Assigned task which was basically a 130 mile flat triangle and a 20 mile out and return at the very end. Four out of five of us landed out, but Harry Baldwin made it around! His finish was quite spectacular… he came up short from the airport! However, he was .7 miles from the finish sector… he had completed the task! The retrieve was quite a spectacle as it was in the brush, with many vehicles out there and many hands to help the Champion of the Champions of 2013!

Lastly, I would like to mention what a great personal experience this contest was for me. This group of pilots who call themselves the 1-26ers are truly an incomparable bunch. They have so much fun and it is such an emotionally uplifting experience to be part of this group. For instance, team Knoll/Walker, who called themselves Team Decrepit were so fun! They progressed to completing tasks at the end of the contest, but at the whole time laughing at the process and themselves instead of getting disappointed or discouraged at their performance. It was fun watching them as they were quite the comic interlude! There were also many 1-26ers who helped me out when I really needed it. For instance, I my tailwheel jammed prior to launch on a practice day, completely ruining it. Ralph Farra (182) provided me one that fit just right with the bearings in the previous wheel and away I went! The next two days, my main tire went flat! Bobby Templin who was Ron Schwartz’s crew helped me get the wheel off, and at first patch the wheels (with also Milt Moos’ help) and later when that didn’t work, replace the tube (Pete Vredenburg’s). I can truly say that without such spontaneous help that it would have been impossible for me to win the contest, so thank you so much to the people who had helped me and to the 1-26ers as a whole, as you guys are such an awesome group of pilots. Also, big thanks to Bill Thar for providing me with an oxygen system, Glenn Fisher for the parachute, Pete for letting me stay over at your house during the contest and lastly Aero Club Albatross for letting me use lovely Sweet Red (563). All of you made it happen for me.

And that’s all folks. Over and out,

Daniel Sazhin (563)