Getting out ahead of one's self
Over the two weeks of 2019 Nationals competition the one mistake
that I made too many times was to go out in "front" when it wasn't clear where
to actually go. Sometimes I would actually be in front of all the other pilots.
Sometimes I would just be in front of all the other pilots near me and there
would not be another pilot that I could see in front of me. Sometimes it would
mean getting in the lead with a couple of pilots nearby but just a bit behind
I would get into trouble on the days where there were no cu's which was most
often the case during the Nationals. I wouldn't have a visual clue as to where
the next thermal was. I would just head down the course line hoping to stumble
on the next patch of lift.
It was fine to lead when there were cu's around. On the last keg of task 5 of
the Nationals (week 2) I got lucky finding a thermal at the turnpoint at 1,100'
AGL and getting up above the pilots nearby. Nene, Zac and John Simon were
already way out in front of us and not to be seen.
I headed out toward the cu's ahead and after turning back to get under a better
cu I was joined by Larry Bunner just below me. We would continue for three
thermals under cu's and lead five pilots below us to goal.
But on the days without these thermal markers things did not go as well. For
example, on the first day of week 2:
I get out in front after we leave the developed areas behind north of the Lake
Wales airfield. I've got two pilots sort of nearby but not in front of me and
it's hard to keep track of them. We are well spread out. There are no cu's ahead
(nor any where all day). All the glides up to that point have been short with
lots of pilots around to find more lift.
The glide goes a lot longer than I would have hoped for and I have to make a low
save to stay up and get to goal late. All I needed to do was not go out in front
quite so early and stay with the other pilots for a few more minutes while a
couple of bird dogs went out and showed us the lift.
Here's an example from the Spring Meeting - Friuli Venezia Giulia Trophy 2019.
Matjaz Klemencic, Suan Selenati get out in front of everyone include Christian,
Alex, and Peter when just before this they were all together as the lead gaggle.
Matjaz ends up landing before goal. Suan does a low save and comes in forth
behind the other three.
On task 4 during week 1 I was consistently out in front as it was an elapsed
time task and I started relatively early. None-the-less there were cu's and I
flew the cu's the whole way, 224 kilometers, which allowed me to stay in front
and fly by myself. The Replay doesn't work, but the results are shown here:
Only at the end did I miss seeing some little wispy cu's off to the east toward
the last turnpoint and goal.
So the rule I should follow is, unless you know where you are going (to find
lift) stay with others who can help you find it.