Final day of WC.
With weather forecast to arrive around noon the organizers have decided to start flyoff rounds this morning at 8:00am with alternating flights between Seniors and Juniors. We have been practicing off the bungee every morning from around 8 to 8:15 and with the shadow from the mountain only half way across the field at that time there has been little time for the sun to begin it’s work creating active air.
In spite of this the air has.been quite lifty down low and getting 5 to 7 minutes has not been too difficult. This morning we have some scattered cloud obscuring the sun on the drive to the field so it may take even a.little longer to see it affect our air in the Vipava valley.
I am sorry I was unable to make this report live as I spent the entire day on the field as an active helper to both Dillons 6 Rounds (plus a reflight group)of finals flights and DP’s as well and they also included one reflight group. This was a total of 14 consecutive 15 minute rounds with a five minute prep time between each plus an extra 5 mins as we switched between Seniors and Juniors every 2nd Round. I did find a little time during some of the less stressful moments of reading air and throwing etc to take a few photos which I have added to the gallery below.
I was unable to update the site from the field on this last day either as the WiFi was heavily overloaded and no photos would upload. This was very frustrating as I did try to get the results up immediately upon completion of the event when I finally came from the field.
I was both surprised and honored to be asked by DP to assist with his final flights. Jimmie was top qualifier and he.would have the expert assistance If Kelly throwing and calling for him while Dillon would be the thrower for DP.
The conditions were not easy but neither were they absurdly difficult. The wind was blowing at 12 to 15 at times and at other moments it laid down to 5 or 10. It meant though that inevitably every 15 minute flight would finish up sooner or later a long way downwind with potentially a treacherous ride home as the sink was not nice and many pilots landed out for zeros. Many of the European teams took advantage of the long field and followed their models 2 or 300 hundred yards downwind to fly further away and be at an advantage to watch more closely the path of other models coming back. This is another technique we need to learn from as it is simply the equivalent of having 20% better vision than those who do not follow their models in these conditions.
And so it was … Prior to each launch we would judge where the air was coming from and where it was going and as we launched DP would taste the area and begin his long 15 minute foray. Sometimes we were a.little late to the party entering marked lift at a lower altitude beneath the gaggle. In other flights DP would choose his own path and we stayed totally separate to the group and maneuvered our way based in the other signs. During the earlier rounds when the wind was a little less we had the benefit of large clouds of “flippies”sometimes very high and other times low down moving with the air catching their breakfast as they flitted back and forth. There were also a few hawks hunting together but most.of the time we were looking at the wind shifts to judge our path home if there were no markers.
It was for me one of the most interesting thermal days if my life as I saw not a single round where nobody made it work, even though many rounds became quite difficult. It was simply a matter of who could take the most risk AND still make it work. This year many were taking greater risk than ever before.
The other thing that had become apparent as we participated in this contest all week was that Arijan and many of the German team were making “rocket” launches that were both very short AND producing exceptionally high results. We were often at a 1 to 1.5 second disadvantage as the conditions demanded that we take 2 second tows and our main competitors took “rocket launchers.” They often used a 2 man direct tow in all types of conditions and loaded up the thrower for a .5 to.7 second row where the pilot simply pulled off the line the moment the model was thrown. The extreme tension and fast release produced a vertical climb out that reached 250 to plus 300 feet in all conditons.
With this technique the “short tow” was no longer a risky proposition for our competition but actually the preferred method – (unless the conditions demanded a full tow.) We were simply at a disadvantage from the start and though we often made it up at the back end working the clock, that is clearly a more dangerous practice.
Working with DP in such a situation was an opportunity to learn our craft from a master and he put on an awesome display of patience and awareness of the air as he often worked his own patch of very light lift to survive and make time in much closer than others who took great risk to go a long way from home and they often did not make it back safely. DP also showed the temperament that only someone with his experience has, when he was totally unflappable. Even when one flight ended up short and became his drop, his attitude remained the same and he thanked us for helping him after every flight. In hindsight DP needed to take a little more risk at the start of each flight to get the scores he needed prevail.
I was also very honored to be working with Jeff to assist Dillon in this his final campaign as a Junior and we came oh so close. An amazing flight occurred in the first round flying from Lane 1 where we got into trouble to the right behind the tents and were forced to return to the field at low level just clearing the heads of the spectators by a couple of feet to swoop between the scoring hut and the Team tents to hook up in a tight circle getting back out again from less than 10 feet. The 100 landing that completed this flight was a gem. Later Dillon was unable to reach the safety of the downwind treeline on returning from a deep and distant foray and after landing out we had to relaunch. Knowing this was our drop we launched more conservatively but another foray crosswind out over the vineyards 50 feet below and behind the tents resulted in the agonizing moments of a model desperately trying to climb out from below our view point and not quite having enough air to make it possible before succumbing to the clutches of the grave vines and trellis that Vipava Valley is famous for. Though that was the deathnell for us anything can happen and I continued to encourage Dillon to make every post winner with long tows and solid flights. We had no more major mishaps but we were unable to make it all the way to the LZ from the safety of the treeline on one flight where many of the group took zeros. Dillon flew with gay abandon for the last couple of rounds and enjoyed the ballasted plane in windy conditions. Every other junior did take a drop in the tough windy conditions where by 4 minutes into every flight we were a long way downwind and looking for new air to get home through. We were still in with a chance depending on how bad the other boys relaunches were. Dillon put in solid flights to finish but it wasn’t enough as our two drops were worse than the others and we finished 5th. It was no disgrace but was most certainly a disappointment. Oh what might have been.
The 2016 Worlds completed.with the closing Ceremony where the winners.were crowned.
Arijan Hucaljuk was finally crowned World Champion and Nikita Shalom of UKraine the Junior World Champion.
The Germans took top Team honors with both Juniors and Seniors. A remarkable effort and well deserved by a polished and skilled team.
I am proud to represent the USA and in spite of the huge disappointment we campaigned well. Jimmie in particular showed incredible ability at his first worlds and is going tob e a force to be reckoned with in the future.
The Towmen on this campaign worked harder than ever before as they towed for us relentlessly day after day without much break. We will always be in there debt. Thank-you Chris and Dave. Thanks also to the helpers in the background that makes this work. Scott Myer for being a terrific chauffeur, plane retriever, repair man and gopher a well as part time Towmen for us and the Aussies. Thanks also to the moms who kept us nourished with sandwiches and beverages day after day. Kim, Rhonda you guys are the best.
Last but not least remember now we have to complete this 2016 campaign . That means we have more tickets to.sell in a phenomenal raffle and a raffle to be drawn and prizes sent to.our supportERs. Thank you USA for providing the support you have for this team.
Thank you sponsors. particularly Soaring USA and BoB Breaux, Kennedy Composites and Barry Kennedy and MKS Servos and Thomas Cooke. (All of whom came to Slovenia and supported us in the flyoffs.)