Greetings from Montlucon! Today we tried a task, yet the weather did not cooperate. Despite a promising weather forecast in the morning and considerably higher forecast temperatures, the stable air and unexpected thunderstorms building in from the southwest caused the tasks to become impossible to complete. As a result, the contest director cancelled the tasks before the start opened and everyone scurried back to the airfield before the rain came.
The day started with blue skies and the prospect of cumulus clouds. We were expecting 90-100 km/h speeds, 1700 meter bases and had a 2.5 hour Assigned Area Task to occupy our minds during our morning team meeting. After getting to our gliders on the grid and programming the tasks, we noticed that the Cus were nowhere to be found. The day was taking a while to cook.
The organizers delayed and delayed the launch, waiting for the conditions to improve. Finally after 2pm the Standard Class launched. We were in the back of the grid in Club Class, so we had a while to go before our takeoff. And after we made it into the air, we noticed that the air was not quite right.
The lift was really broken apart and the thermals were weak. The wind was increasing from the west, blowing us downwind of the airport. Many gliders were struggling low. We clung on, barely climbing along with the Polish and Germans, drifting rapidly in our weak thermal. After clawing our way to 950 meters, we saw the gliders higher than us head north toward another thermal. This put us well out of gliding distance of the airport and we were looking at contacting this thermal at around 400 meters above the ground. Thankfully it worked, and we started climbing.
However, we were now hopelessly out of position to start. Looking west, we had a strong headwind and the air was getting hazier and nasty. High clouds and rain were rapidly approaching. It was going to be a grueling task to simply nick the line, let along make any serious distance today. And right then we heard our Team Captain announce that the tasks were cancelled for all classes.
At that point, there was a mad dash back to the airport. Gliders were raining back to the airport left and right. The US team hung back, letting the pandemonium work itself out before heading into the mass confusion of gliders on the ground. About 30 minutes later, JP and I landed on the grass, calm and well positioned after landing to get back into the trailers nearby.
Donat did a great job, having prepped the trailer for disassembly. I started prepping the glider by taking the tape off and turning off the electronics right after I landed. Within 20 minutes, we had the glider in the box right as the first drop of rain landed on the windshield of the car. Good team work!
Of the notable stories today, Sarah Arnold landed out after having started the Standard Class task. While Club Class and 15m had their start time cancelled, Standard Class already had their gate opened. We were surprised that they cancelled the task as they did and it’s ambiguous to us whether the FAI rules support this. However, I don’t think anyone disagrees with the decision, or perhaps the very worthwhile suggestion that, “Psst, you will near certainly go less than minimum distance today and land in a field, so maybe just land back at the airport.” The organizers certainly minimized a lot of trouble for everyone by making their decision.
Thanks to my friends at Aero Club Albatross, who have given me all the 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.