21 January 2017

34th World Gliding Championship in Benalla Wrap-up

Saturday, January 21 was the last day of the "Worlds" in Benalla, Australia. It was a difficult day with fairly weak blue thermals. A strong and cool southerly wind suppressed thermal development and broke up the lift that was there. There were substantial numbers of landouts in all classes. The 15m Class fared worst with 13 competitors of 35 landing out.

In 15m Class, 1st place was hotly contested between Makoto Ichikawa (Mak) of Japan and Polish pilot Sebastian Kawa, who is probably the most successful glider pilot of all times. We started the day with Mak being in the lead by 33 points but he didn't have a good day today, placing 21st for the day and receiving a 20 point penalty. So, by the end of the day Sebastian had won another World Championship with Mak coming second overall.

Our 15m Class pilots, both novices at World Championships, had mixed results today. Sergei did well, placing a respectable 13th for the day, moving up five positions in the overall score to 24th place which is a good result for competing the first time at this level and considering that he had to recover from a landout a few days ago. In the last few days of the competition Sergei seemed to have found his groove.
Luke on the other hand did not have a good day. He had trouble getting away after the start and fell behind the field. In the end, the day died on him and he landed out 30 km north of Benalla.

In 18m Class, French pilot Kilian Walbrou successfully defended his 1st place and became World Champion ahead of Mario Kiessling (Germany) and Mike Young, UK.

I was hoping to see our 18m pilots finishing in the top ten and perhaps even get to the podium. Dave was off to a great start, finishing in second place on the first competition day. After three contest days, he was still in 4th place and after Day 4, more than halfway through the competition, he was in 6th place, still in the top ten. Unfortunately, he had a few bad days which dropped him out of the top ten.
Jerzy was off to a bit of a slow start but then improved, placing 8th on January 19th.
Today both Dave and Jerzy had a good run and were tied for 10th place with 851 points each. They both moved up a few places in the overall score to 14th (Jerzy) and 16th (Dave).

Open Class had an interesting turn of events. Michael Sommer, four times World Champion started the day in third position behind the British pilots Russell Cheetham and Andy Davis. Even though Michael placed 18th today, he managed to move up one place into second behind Russel Cheetham and ahead of Andy Davis.

The competition was difficult because, with the exception of one day, conditions were mainly blue and there was only one day offering typical Australian conditions with 8 - 10 kt climbs to 10,000 ft. The blue conditions resulted in extensive gaggle flying which is dangerous and very stressful. After the second mid-air collision, at least one pilot pulled out because he found it too dangerous.

Signing off from the 34th WGC

Gaggles, blue, very blue, plenty of dust during take off

This is how I will remember World Championships in Benalla:

We had only one day opportunity to fly with use of clouds and it was
only half of a day during contest.

The other day was one practice day with nice cumulus clouds.

Rest of the days were blue or very blue, this is how the weather lady
described them each day during morning weather briefing.

I started the contest with a penalty of 61 points for low finish because
there was plenty of sink

just 5km before finish cylinder and I finished below minimum altitude.

Almost every day take offs were in dense dust so any cleaning before
flight was useless and some times a tow plane was hardly visible during
roll on the ground due to dust.

First part of the contest was hard for everyone as huge gaggles were
very unpleasant and also two accidents in the air casted a shadow over
the whole event and were very upsetting.

European tactics of flying in the group is very tiring and taking away
all individual thinking from the pilot, scoring is very steep and loss
of 1km/h can cost up to 20 points

A land out meant practically elimination from any chance for good placing.

My best flight was on the day when we had 5 hours area task with some
clouds and I didn't see any glider from start to finish, high cloud base
and good lift was a nice reward

for such long trip to Australia.

I finished on 14 place after 7 racing days, which is not the best, but
it looks that it is the best result from North American pilots in all

Today we were served dinner sponsored by organizers: a freezing cold
rubbery chicken legs with also very cold macaroni with one mini tomato,
all served in a plastic box packed in huge gray paper bag.

Our Crew had to pay for this dinner $30 .

Thank you Joerg for managing our team and helping me and Maria in
glider preparation .

My best friend from school time in Poland Adam Zolnierczyk currently
living in Sydney visited us for 4 days during contest and was
crewing for me as well.

Container pick up for return trip starting Jan 28 is arranged till
then Joerg, Marian and Jarek will have opportunity to fly our gliders
for 4 to 5 days hopefully they will have better

soaring conditions .

Just after closing ceremony we drive back to Sydney to return almost
brand new cars with hitch to Manly Rentals which we had for duration of
our visit in Australia .

On Tuesday we depart Sydney for long flight back home.

Jerzy XG

Day 7 - Dave

The A task for today was a 370 km racing task.  I thought it was a little optimistic based on my weather assessment.  After re-gridding the entire contest between 1145 and 1245 to switch ends of the runway and the 15 M class launch and struggle for the first 30 minutes the 18 M class was put on the B task of 280 km.  At the end of another low, weak, blue day, this was a good task, but it was a struggle once we approached Corowa and then moved south towards the final steering point.

The deviation that you see to the west on the third leg south goes over a small set of hills called the Warby Range.  These hills are often the best source of lift to get home.  Today they were working, but it was still very weak.  I can't imagine what it would have been like without their influence.

I started a few minutes behind a pretty good lead gaggle and chased them down most of the flight.  At the first turnpoint, I had caught up, but was 1000 ft lower.  With only a 4000 ft working band (ground to 4000 AGL) I pushed to about 2000 AGL trying to stay with them, but it was always weaker down low.  I found a couple of good climbs on my own and by the second turnpoint I was with a group of 3 other gliders.

At Corowa, I was down to just under 1100 ft AGL and found a 3.2 kt climb that took me to 3000 ft.  The three other gliders were a little further along track and seemed to be out climbing me, so I moved to their thermal for a 2.2 kt climb up to 3800 ft.  I guess I should have stayed where I was.

Another run to the feedlot at the north end of the Warby range for a 3.1 kt climb and from there a couple of more weak climbs to get on final glide.

On the barograph trace, you can see the grey part of the trace before the start where I was down to about 1500 AGL trying to get connected and move to the start area.  I was getting a little worried that I might have to relight, but was able to connect to some weak climbs and slowly move up and out to the start area.

Today's flight was good for 10th on the day and that moved me up 2 places to finish in 16th.

Mid - Task Update

Our pilots are on the second leg of their respective tasks. It was not easy to get going. The 15m Class was first on the grid. They started launching at 13:00 into the blue. Soon large gaggles formed low as the competitors struggled to stay airborne. It was quite spectacular to see them dump water in the clear blue sky. Remarkably there were very few relights, if any - a testimony to the skills of the pilots at this level of competition.
The 18m and Open Class launch was halted until 14:00 to wait for conditions to improve. The had fewer problems and managed to climb out without dropping ballast.

Unfortunately, Luke got stuck low and for a while, it looked like he would come back for a relight. In the end, he managed to climb and continue on course.

In 15m we are seeing speeds of 70 - 80 kph, the 18m guys are running at speeds of 100 - 113 kph - the beauty of more wing span and full ballast.

We are expecting the 18m back around 6p and 15m at 7p

Hopefully nobody lands out. The closing party is at 7:30 tonight.


Karl from Optikal has been taking some awesome shots of glider and people. Check it out at www.optikal.com.au

20 January 2017

Saturday, January 21st - the last day of the World Championships

It was a chilly morning despite bright sunshine. It is slowly warming up now and there is promise for a decent soaring day. Conditions will be blue again(!) with thermals to 5000 ft. The gliders have been ballasted, weighed and positioned at the grid, with 15m in the front, followed by 18m and Open Class.

15m has a 3:30 AAT task to the NW with 235 km minimum, 364 km nominal and 476 km maximum. Task B is identical but reduced to 3:00 hrs.

The 18m task is a 371 km racing task to the north and NE.

First launch is planned for 12:30 off runway 26