Greetings from Montlucon! Today was a long slog. The day took a while to cook off and all of the classes flew shortened tasks. There were many landouts, JP and I included. I managed to make the finish sector, though I did not have enough height to comfortably make the airport. Instead, I landed at a pre-scouted field at the edge of the sector, where JP landed at yesterday.
The day took a while to get going, so we all did the grid squat again today. The most exciting moment was when Sean Murphy (XC), another one of our US team members came back for a relight during the 15m launch. He sat and sat on the edge of the grass runway, and the club class team watched him for a while. Without his crew, we figured he might need help, so the Club Class team and our crew came out to him. We then pushed his fully loaded glider over to the runway and he managed to get back into the air right at the end of the grid.
When we launched, it was a struggle to get solidly connected. There were few thermals in the local area, so attempts to leave to get into a better position in the starting area were fruitless. JP and I got separated for a bit due to some radio issues, so I ended up switching to my handheld for the day. We got reconnected before the start and started toward the back of the gaggle, just where we wanted to be.
The thermals were painfully weak. A solid 1 m/s thermal was a real treat. The gaggles were busy, especially after the first turn. At that point the Club Class started converging into a single furball, slowly lumbering along into the headwind. JP and I got to the front end of the gaggle, though struggled to climb up to the folks controlling it at the very top. We led out a couple times as the folks above left ahead, trying to get work our way up in a thermal ahead. Rounding the upwind turn, this tactic seemed promising, although we were hindered by mid-level clouds casting a shadow ahead. The gaggle found very weak lift at the edge and struggled mightily to climb. The folks who climbed higher behind us did better and now JP and I found ourselves in the bottom third of the gaggle.
After the thermal petered out, we headed into the shade. Once across in a sunnier spot, I hooked into zero, though JP was just a bit lower and did not find the bubble. He promptly landed and I kept scratching at 270 meters above the ground. Finally the gaggle coalesced around me and we started climbing. The thermal slowly but surely got us up to a marginal final glide. I needed another 150 meters or so in order to make a solid finish, yet the thermal petered out. I figured there was one more final thermal out there.
After leaving and scratching around with the Brits and other gliders, we simply sank lower and lower. Several km from the finish, I was below the finish altitude and found a weak thermal. The Belgian Libelle and I managed to sustain in it, but not climb. I had enough height to make the edge of the sector and land in a nice field, so I bagged the effort and went for the finish.
In all, today worked out fine, but we did not work the gaggle ideally toward the end. Instead, if we were a bit more patient earlier, we would have been in a better position once the conditions got very bad. A good lesson learned!
Tomorrow looks a bit better than today, so hopefully we won’t have to work milliknot level lift again.
Thanks to my friends at Aero Club Albatross, who have given me all resources, mentoring, and opportunities to grow as a recently aged-out junior pilot. Thanks to the many people who support me and the US Team to make flying at a WGC possible.
See the daily scores here.