2011 HTL - May at WHRF

I was rather nervous about the weather for the week leading up to the HTL at WHRF - WHRF is essentially a power club and the flying field is thus a lot "smaller" than most RC glider fields.  However, the club's field is blessed with vast open spaces around it, so winch direction is not really limited by the weather (just grass height) - only the landing area which can accomodate only a few directions.  However, we were most fortunate to be blessed with a NW for most of the day, which allowed 15 m wide lane spacings across the entire field.

To increase the "flying" component of competition, I had elected to use the "F3J Final's " 15 minute task in a 15 minute working time/window approach - this requires mass launches and landings, but also shifts emphasis towards flying (90% of the round's score) which in trying conditions requires the pilot to search for and use multiple thermals during a single flight. 200 m winch launch reduces the amount of helper effort, an unlimited relaunches/ no penalty for outlanding - made for a more relaxed competition than the stricter F3J.  This was intended to make for a tougher competition, but still be enjoyable by all level of pilots.

We had 22 pilots entering ( the same number as 2010) which indicates that we are simply not growing the sport - but, that is talk for another thread.  The top F3B and F3J pilots were all in attendence and the F3B pilots bravely indicated that they would be flying their F3B models in the event.  A tall order when compared to the dedicated soaring machines of F3J, but these pilots are made of tougher stuff (huge quantities of carbon fibre and aramid, I suspect).

Anyway, back to the weather - the previous weekend's aerobatic event at the club had been rained out and the long term weather prediction also showed a potential for showers.  Sunday morning dawned bright and very humid; the first 2 rounds were huge fun and really wonderful to fly in with fantastic "smooth / thick air".  Some pilots were caught out by the starting time (only delayed by 15 minutes!) and also the CD's strict adherance to the working time. 
The first casualty for the day was Nigel who performed a rather fast down-wind landing and "reverse Concorded" his F3B model's nose.  A couple of people decided to venture beyond (and strictly advised against) mown landing area and into the vast bushveld to find their models - in fact at one point we paused for almost 20 minutes for 2 candidates to return, but prep. time was restarted promptly - much to the delight of the evil CD.  During round 2 one of the junior pilots had to return to land very, very (!) quickly when his Tx' started to beep frantically with a low battery voltage warning - which simply shows that a good event requires good preparation (and attention to detail), but interestingly he was not the only Tx with battery issues that day!  The only unfortunate crash of the day was during the final rounds' launch when Craig B's winch line hooked the stab off Rudi's Cere's and their two models briefly bumped wings: a broken Cere's fuselage but repairable. One of the teams (who shall remain nameless) simply forgot to fly round 5 - i.e. all three pilots missed their slots for an instant zero score & throwaway. Eish!?

Round 1 started off with most pleasant of thermal flying conditions (albeit very humid, with a light breeze) and as can be seen, more than half the field maxed their time with general good landings for their first flight.  Was this going to turn out to be a landing competition?

Superb conditions in Round 2 again, with the field gradually improving their results towards the 15 minute task. It is interesting to note that the top 10 round scores all recorded sub 1 metre landings! Weather was generally awesome throughout the round & scores are high.  teh best round of the day was recorded - see the top of the list below!

An indication of the weather challenges ahead, slot 2 (or "poo" as some called it) caused some early retirements - just look at the differential between 1st & 13th position times!

A brief respite in the conditions, but the challending conditions were entrenched for the remainder of the day with far fewer numbers of pilots maxing the rounds in each slot - you needed to hook a thermal quickly and then max that out before finding 2 or more thermals to achive the flight time.  Amazingly the top F3B pilots were still in contention - but they were using the freshining breeze to good advantage & huge launches!

Some slots were just downright naaaaasty in round 5, but as with all competitions, someone (or more than a few) will always max the round.  Here massive altitude and the confidence to fly your model very, very far away were requirements. Some impressive heights were achieved during this round as the pilots began to fully work the few thermals flowing past.

The final round for the day, wind was 90 degree off centre (and 180 degrees off prediction) but the sink was far more prevelant! The only incident of the day when two gliders clashed on launch - winch line hooked off a v-tail stab & both models rapidly drawn together.  It's in situations such as this that full butterfly / crow mixing is critical to slow the decent of the otherwise OOC model.

Whilst maxing flying time was critical, landings still remain an important aspect with the top pilots consistantly landing under a metre or closer for the best scores. It was also noted that as the conditions became more challenging, launches off the 200m winch were a few seconds longer than the earliest rounds.

Overall results then: well done to Craig for another win; and Jason for first Junior (and only 1 point ahead of Dad!!!)

A big thanks then to everyone that attended and assisted - particularly Martie for the catering, herman for the MGA competitions box & clean-up afterwards.  A special thanks to the WHRF club for the dedicated use of their field, hopefully the visitors were treated to some exciting flying with the mass launches and landings, with beautifully elegant flight that only high aspect ratio gliders can achieve, in-between.

See you at the next event and Fly Safely!