2014 USA Open Class Nationals

Dave's Blog from Montague, California

Last Update: Saturday, 12-July-2014


The 2014 USA Open Class Nationals are at Montague, California. Our hosts are Noelle and Rex Mayes, who have a soaring operation here as well as their better-known Williams California location. This site is just north of the Mt. Shasta volcano, just south of the Oregon border. See Dave's blog from the 2012 Montague contest for some background on Montague soaring, terrain, and weather.

Driving up to Montague from Minden, this is the view of Mt. Shasta from the beautiful Shasta-Trinity national forest. Looks like great soaring! Click on photos to see high-resolution versions.
Mt. Shast from national forest
Rex got himself a new toy. This is a Grumman Goose seaplane. Every pilot should have at least one seaplane ;-)
Rex andGoose

As usual in USA, Open Class has a small field of 9 competitors. Our top Open Class pilots Dick Butler and Ron Tabery are enroute to the World Championships so unable to participate this year. The USA 15-meter nationals is running concurrently with 16 competitors, for a total of 25 pilots flying here. I'm flying my electric-powered Antares 20E with the 20-meter wing-tips (I just passed 1,000 hours on my Antares last week!).

Practice Day 1 Sunday 22-June

A short 2:30 practice MAT is called with first turnpoints Carter (south west into the Trinity mountains) and China Peak, the jumping off point for crossing the valley to Mt. Shasta and the eastern high desert. Beautiful weather, high cloud base, and a convergence line across the valley to Mt. Shasta make for a fun day. The convergence set up clouds and lift from Mt. Eddy (south of China) across to the south side of Mt. Shasta, and with the cloudbase above 12,000 feet this wasn't even too frightening.

I had fun taking photos of the volcano crossing around the south. Followed the usual convergence and lift over the high ground east of Mt. Shasta past Medicine Lake, on out over the desert to the radar facility turnpoint, then just had to do a second lap in this strong lift band. Crossed back to the west (for variety, on the north side of the volcano this time), back to the Carter turnpoint in the Trinity mountains, then ran home at warp speed from the high altitude. OLC says I flew 600km. I did about 78 mph over almost 5 hours, while the fast guys went 85 mph (but closer to the 2:30 time limit).

Approaching Mt. Shasta from the west; clouds and convergence on south side (to right). Click on images to see high-resolution versions.
approacing Mt. Shasta
South side of Mt. Shasta, reflection of mountain and clouds on my wing.
Mt. Shasta south side
Flying back towards Mt. Shasta from the east. The lava flow is the beginning of the high ground usually generating good lift, and separating stable marine air on the south (left) and good soaring weather north. That's Medicine Lake just past the lava flow.
view west from near Medicine Lake

FLARM at Montague

All pilots at Montague are equipped with FLARM, so it appears my FLARM crusade is paying off. FLARM problems are almost always installation issues! At Montague I've spent many hours helping pilots sort problems, which have included:

I think all FLARMs here are now working properly, though a couple that I know of have limited reception range not yet diagnosed...

Practice Day 2, Monday 23-June

A bit weaker than day 1, but similar with an early convergence line south of Mt. Shasta. I took it easy and enjoyed the scenery, and fast guys went about 77 mph.

Day 1, Tuesday 24-June

Weatherman Walt Rogers briefs us on approaching heavy cirrus later in the afternoon, possibly shutting down the sun and lift later in our task period. CD Dale Bush gives us a short 2:30 MAT, with initial turnpoints Quartz and Quartz is at the north end of the Scott Valley, Craggy South at the south end, with the direct line over the normally glider-sucking center of the valley. The task is designed to get us home before the day shuts down, force us to decide how to traverse the Scott Valley, and of course find additional turnpoints with legs in fast lift to fill the required two and a half hours. Before launch, there's no nice line of cloud marking a convergence across to Mt. Shasta, so heading east may not be possible despite the promise of stronger lift east.

Open class launched second, and I started shortly after the task opened. I was able to line up a thermal in the start cylinder with clouds and wisps to Quartz and start the race climbing out of the top of the start cylinder. Cloudbase was not much above the start altitude, and not much above the Marble Mountains west of Scott Valley. Which route to take south between the 1rst and 2nd turnpoints? East via Duzel mountain and high ground on the east, the Marble mountains on the west, or the straight route with no lift starting not terribly high? I run and bump through the Quartz turnpoint and continue straight on to the southern flank of Mt. Wright, towards a gorgeous line of cumulus running south along the Marbles towards Carter. 10 miles past the first turn and 90 degrees of course, I turn south along the crests of the Marble Mountains in lift. Actually I was a wimp and wasted a couple turns to gain 500 feet prior to keep a bit higher above the mountains... Anyway, it was not super fast and did require some circling, but great scenery and avoids getting low and stuck in the Scott Valley. I passed over some gliders lower in the south end of the valley as I swung east to the Craggy turnpoint.

Early in the day, clouds had developed early around the peaks of China and Mt. Eddy. From Craggy, turning around and getting back up into the Marble mountains would be slow, and with the low cloudbase reaching our allowed turnpoints in easy range from the Marble crests would be slow as well. Seemed faster to head for sure lift near China and Mt. Eddy, then run north and south in the nice line of lift over the mountains east of Scott Valley. Did he say "sure lift"? Right. Silly glider pilot. Promptly struggling a bit climbing up the flank of China with Mike Robison and Tom Steplton in Nimbus 3D JOY, wasting a bit of time before getting high enough to start running north under good clouds.

Running north, JOY gets ahead of me as I dither and waste a few minutes. We turn the Lefko turnpoint, and follow the high ground and good clouds up to Cottonwood Peak and the R-Ranch turnpoint. Mike missed a thermal in JOY, and I got a bit higher and ahead. Though not a street, a line of cloud and wisps head back to Mt. Wright and the improving street along the Marbles. I did have to circle a bit, but presently slid up the south flank of Mt. Wright and turned left into now screaming lift south. Sorry no great photos but I was a bit close to the rocks and trees to mess with the camera...

Amazing fast ride under strong clouds down to the Carter turnpoint, no circling required. Speed is really high, so I think I'll try a 2nd lap, turning Quartz at the north end to meet the "two intervening turnpoints before repeating a turnpoint" rule. As I run north, the street is beginning to decay, so I give up on a 2nd run, and use the excess altitude to glide around the Scott Valley Airport turnpoint before returning home.

Despite my dithering about, my 78 mph is good for 2nd today in back of Bill Gawthrop F8 at 83 mph. Gary Ittner P7 wins 15-meter at 82 mph. Fun day!

OK, I did dawdle for a few photos. Here's a view of the street over the Marbles as I climb the south flank of Mt. Wright. The street is set back over crests a bit west of Mt. Wright. The Butterfly FLARM display shows that Tim Taylor TT is 5 mile ahead out under the street.
Climbing Mt. Wright
View of Trinity Lake, looking south from the Carter turnpoint. There is hardly any snow on the peaks, an amazing contrast to the photos I took in 2012.
Trinity Lake

Wednesday 25-June

Day cancelled, no possibility of flying, no pilot's meeting. Occasional light rain through-out the day... Opportunity to catch up on email, update this blog and do some work on ILEC SN10 software.

Thursday 26-June

Dawn showed hints of blue sky but mostly low overcast with cloud obscuring the hilltops. Max temperature forecast is only 71 and its cold enough to require a sweatshirt. Ben Mayes is wearing a ski hat at briefing...

Gary Ittner P7 claims he still remembers his flight on day 1, but he was a bit hazy on the details. He started immediately, worried about an early shut-down from cirrus. Gary took the Marbles route around Scott Valley, went to R-Ranch from Craggy, then up and down the east side only. Bill Gawthrop F8 also ran the Marbles south, direct north to Duzel after Craggy (skipping China which slowed me down), and also did a fast lap on the Marbles at the end.

I just overheard the CD making tee-off reservations for this afternoon, so racing doesn't look promising... Day scrubbed at 11:30, Tee-off at 1PM for those so inclined.

Day 2 - Friday 27-June

Lots of doom and gloom regarding the weather, but we'll give it a try. Strong west wind with a southerly component mean we'll lanch to the south today. Expected low cloud bases will limit our task options.

CD Dale Bush gives us a 2 hour MAT with only one turnpoint Duzel Rock! Duzel is a small steep peak in the range between Montague and Scott Valley, capped by a rock spire that heats from all sun angles. It "always" produces a thermal. After Duzel, we have to choose from our allowed turnpoint list to go as fast as possible.

By launch time things are looking up with higher bases, and the MAT time is increased to 2:30. There are clouds over Gunsight peak (our start area), to the east over the high ground, in a convergence near Mt. Shasta, and also to the north crossing the valley to the eastern high desert.

Off tow, there's decent lift but cloud base is below 9,000 feet. Amazingly, the mountains south from Gunsight are devoid of cloud, including Duzel! It would be very easy to fall below the peaks with the low cloudbase. Choices today appear to be go south and run the convergence east past Mt. Shasta, or go north past R-Ranch and follow clouds across to the east. It might also be possible to run north-south along the eastern side of the valley, between Mt. Shasta and Copco or a bit further east; clouds look good there. Open starts 2nd, and I start at the top of today's 8,500 foot tall start cylinder. With a 20 knot westerly wind and no obvious lift (nor circling gliders) near Duzel, I follow a street into wind for a while then turn cross-wind to Duzel, where I arrive above a few other gliders scrambling about. Past Duzel I find a small climb, and head to clouds on the western flank of Mt. China. I took it slow here to stay well above the terrain, taking a few turns in weaker lift but arriving comfortably above the rocks. Gently bounced into the China turn cyclinder and into the stronger lift in the convergence line past Weed.

I did a few laps between Weed and east-side turnpoints Deer Mountain, Goose Peak, Mt. Hebron, Longbell, depending on where the convergence line had shifted, then finally home via China. Though I was quite cautious (stayed slow to keep off the rocks), I managed about 200 miles at 72mph for third today, remaining in 2nd overall. Rick Walters and Pete Alexander won with 77mph in Pete's Arcus, staying on the north side. In 15-meter, Tom Kelly 711 won with 74mph doing laps on the east side, while Gary had a tough day, and Ray Gimmey 7V took third and moves to first overall.

After 7PM in the evening, the convergence line north of Mt. Shasta is still working. Beyond the sky in this photo, there was still a thin cloud line running across China Mountain.
Day 2 convergence in evening>

Day 3, Saturday 28-June

Yesterday 15-meter winner Tom Kelley turned Duzel 3 times without lift, but R-Ranch and Craggy South worked well. In open class, Rick and Pete decided to fly the line between Lefko and Radar, where they thermalled with a bald eagle. Rick started final glide at MC 1 into a 20 knot headwind (with Pete screaming in the back), but found a lift line and screamed home.

Looks less windy, minimal clouds - mostly blue, lift height similar to yesterday. Forecast map on XCskies indicates a convergence from China Mountain to north of Mt. Shasta again. Weatherman Walt Rogers expects widely scattered cu up to 14,000 along the convergence line to the east. Much lower in the western area, maybe 11,000 at the highest. Task handed out at briefing today is a 4 hour turn area task with 6 turn areas! Wright, Carter, Dry Lake, Deer Mtn, Schonchin, Copco Dam, and return.

Before launch, CD Dale Bush shortens the task time to 3:30 and deletes the northern Copco Dam turnpoint. After the Scott Valley, this will take us on a couple of laps over the high ground east of Mt. Shasta, in the convergence lift area. Assuming no disasters in the Scott Valley nor crossing over to the east...

I started the day with an over-confident release from tow at 2000 feet (low for this sight), and promptly spent a few minutes digging out from 1500 feet over Yreka town. There was one good thermal in the start cylinder with plenty of traffic, and traffic was a bit rowdy. I finally climbed out the top into wave and marked a strong spot, then descended back below the 10,000 foot start cylinder cap. The 15-meter guys mostly started before the our open-class task opened, and as I climbed out the top of the start cylinder I heard the first outlanding call on the radio. Aaarrgggggg...

I saw no gliders high anywhere in the Scott Valley, and a few struggling low, so I climbed in the wave to a bit over 11,000 feet prior heading across Scott Valley to Wright Mountain. It would be most excellent to find another wave band in Scott Valley and coast down to the 2nd turnpoint in wave, but that fantasy was promptly obliterated by reality. I found no wave in back of Wright, didn't find lift over the expected spurs of the Marbles, so bounced over the line of gliders circling low in the foothills, presently descending to their altitude for a struggle south of Duzel Rock. Dick VanGrunsven RV and I wasted copious time getting high enough to bounce over China Mountain, where it was finally possible to get a decent climb to a bit over 11,000 feet.

There are no clouds around Mt. Shasta and nor over the first decent peak on the east side (Whaleback Mountain) - the first wisps are over high ground further east into the high ground and further from safe landing fields. I don't see any gliders climbing, so I dial ack to a conservative MC 2 and cross slowly, conserving altitude, and take a couple weak climbs so I can safely and comfortably press into the higher terrain. The reward is a 4 knot climb to where I can comfortably press east to the run along the stronger convergence, eventually climbing above 12,000 feet past Medicine Lake. I was in survival mode still when I should have shifted gears back to racing, and failed to follow the clouds into the Dry Lake turn area, also failing to press harder even though now in good lift. Too nervous, I turned early and ran the convergence back west to Deer Mountain. One more lap to go then home... The last turn area is well north of Medicine Lake and the convergence lift, so I follow the convergence to a beatiful cloud prior turning north. The cloud didn't work, wasted several minutes, then hit strong lift in the blue. The SN10 says I'm now above final glide, but there are mountains in the way. I conservatively swing south to run the convergence, and finally put the nose down with 1000 feet over an MC 5 final glide at Whaleback Mountain for a fast final run home. And of course pull up from the finish line into a 5 knot thermal!

62mph is good enough for third today, and I remain in 2nd overall. Scott Valley airport sucked in Tom Kelly 711 and one or two others. 8 of the 16 gliders racing in 15-meter landed out today - ouch.

Bill Gawthrop smoked us all at 73mph. He started low, and had a struggle in the Scott Valley prior getting up at China Mountain. Bill took the southern route around Mt. Shasta, with zero sink all around Shasta to the convergence clouds over the high ground. Finished via an uncomfortable final glide over Goose Mtn, but no slow spots. With his 2nd day win, Bill increased his lead over me to 124 points. Mark Schmidt IRS won 15-meter at 64mph. Mark ran to the first turn before starting and got low, which convinced him to be cautious and just nick the first two turns in the Scott Valley. He had a relatively easy transition to the eastern high ground, also didn't go deep enough into the Dry Lake turnpoint. Mark had a tough final glide through the cut north of Goose Mountain, and had to thermal back up to final glide height before the finish. P7 fell off Whaleback Mountain and headed north-east to land at Longbell strip. Ray Gimmey had a slow day at 59mph, but remains in 1rst overall with a 100 point lead.

Day 4, Sunday 29-June

Walt Rogers says it looks like we'll have great soaring weather tomorrow or maybe Tuesday through the rest of the contest. Today however, max thermal heights are much reduced from yesterday by at least 1000 feet, with a stiffer inversion. If you thought Scott Valley was fun yesterday... Forecast thermals 3-4 knots typical, some stronger, blue again except maybe wisps past Mt. Shasta. Very light winds, probably not enough to generate wave.

Dick VanGrunsven arranged for an RV-12 customer to come visit, and gave rides to Walt Cannon and myself. What a beautiful flying machine - really nice! This particular example is a factory-built SLSA, with optional wheel-pants and Dyon touch-screen. Thanks for the ride Dick!
Dick VanGrunsven

After a late launch, thermals developed higher and stronger than forecast. Dale Bush tasks us with a 2.5 hour MAT task, with turnpoints up and down the western side of the contest area. South to China Peak, north to Restaurant past Cottonwood peak, south-west to Quartz in the dreaded Scott Valley, south through the Scott Valley to Callaghan, back north to Scott Valley airport, south to China again, then optionally add additional turnpoints.

Though some pilots are struggling and start low, at 2:30 I start almost last out the top of the 10,000 foot high start cylinder, and passed lower gliders enroute to China peak running through alarmingly still air. Hardly a bump until I've turned China and well north. I see a lot of gliders lower than I want to be, and resolve to keep high and not press too hard. Gliders ahead of me mark areas of lift, but the gaggles today are inefficient, with tight thermal cores and pilots flying shallow turns. Short climbs by myself average around 4 knots, but generally stop below 9000 feet, which means finding the next climb soon to stay above the terrain. Cottonwood Peak works as always, and I circled with JOY and P7 for an easy turn around Restaurant. After Quartz I tried the Marbles, but found only 3 knot lift. It was beatiful working up from below Mt. Etna's peak, but slow, and as usual I was low after turning Callaghan at the south end of the Scott Valley, along with a swarm of lower gliders. One of the bumps in the valley yields a weak climb to almost 9000 feet, and I glide in calm air around Scott Valley airport and back in towards Duzel Rock. A brief climb before I press into the higher terrain, where I see some gliders circle briefly and leave. 2 miles south of Duzel I found a tight 7.5 knot thermal which they missed, and it goes above 10,500 feet! Amazing after working 3 and 4 knots all day. Now I've got an easy final glide around the final China turnpoint and home, but I should add some turnpoints and push up my average speed. I turned China and added the Duzel turnpoint, hoping to climb back up and add at least one or two more, but when I got back to Duzel I didn't find a strong core. Set up a final glide around the municipal airport and home, but the margin got too thin and I just pushed the nose down and went home at warp speed, which cost a bit in average speed. I should have glided around Scott Valley - I had enough altitude and it would have increased my speed 1mph.

61.43mph is only good for 4th today. Bill Gawthrop again smoked the field at 65.70mph, extending his lead over yours truly, using the Duzel thermal twice to tack on a few more turnpoints. One open class pilot used his motor, but everybody else completed the task. In 15-meter, Gary Ittner P7 wins the day with 62.26mph, and Ray Gimmey 7V maintains first place overall with a 58.60mph speed. All but 5 pilots in 15-meter completed all the listed MAT turnpoints, with one landout. Excellent task for these conditions, and a great day after the gloomy forecast!

Here's the OLC trace of my Day 4 flight. Scott Valley is the low area on the left, Restaurant turnpoint at the top above Cottonwood Peak, Callaghan lower left, China lower right turnpoint. Montague is in the valley east of Yreka.
Day 4 OLC trace

Monday 30-June

Sunday winner Gary Ittner P7 said he resolved to stay high, but didn't find the thermals he hoped for. Rather than trying the Marbles, after Quartz Gary turned east to Duzel which worked. Gary did not add any extra turnpoints and finished on time. Bill Gawthrop turned backwards from Quartz to chase a circling glider but found only 1 knot, after which he had a slow run on the Marbles. From a 5050 foot low point at Callaghan he dug out and found a 7 knot thermal, which he got run out of by a swarm of "kiddy gliders" thermalling badly. Bill used the monster thermal at Duzel more effectively than I and tacked on Scott Valley and Grenada turnpoints at the end.

Weatherman Walt Rogers briefed max temperature of 99 today and 103 expected tomorrow. Isolated thunderstorms later in the week will provide stronger lift before they blow up. Today the sounding shows much less of an inversion and similar upper level temperatures, combined with better heating should provide a better day, but with a very late start and lasting later - 7PM over Medicine Lake. Mostly blue except possibly wisps at the convergence over the high ground east of Mt. Shasta.

Task today is a 3:30 turn area with two laps in the convergence with turns at Carter, Dry Lake, Deer Mountain, and Medicine Lake.

Sniffers had trouble after a late launch. Local Duo MG stayed up, but 15-meter contest pilots with ballast had trouble with sniffers relighting, and nobody got to the magic 8,000 foot threshold. Us open class pilots sat under the shade tree and relaxed, not yet gridded. Eventually, someone hooked a decent core, and the 15-meter classs was launched, with last tow almost 3PM. CD Dale Bush finally threw in the towel and cancelled the day, but then somebody called "wait, it just started popping, I'm climbing through 8,500 at 4 knots!" The towel was un-thrown! The day was uncancelled after a roll-call, and they're off on a 2 hour MAT (Duzel only required turn) with task opening at 3:30! Meanwhile, open class racing today has been cancelled (and remains canceled).

The Mayes boys are serving Bratwurst for dinner in the hangar at 7PM.

Day 5, Tuesday 1-July-2014

Young wipper-snapper Daniel Sazhin BT won 15-meter Monday with fast laps around Duzel in the Duckhawk - south to China, north to Lefko, 3 times at 76mph and the only pilot to break 70mph. Daniel says this was a pretty boring flight, always high in the same place. Ray Gimmey remains in first place overall after finishing 4th at 68mph.

Today is going to be really hot with forecast max temperature 103 (yesterday was 99 in the shade). No dinner at the airport tonight; Noelle recommends we go find somewhere with air conditioning. Walt Rogers says today things rip loose for a really strong day, though it will be mostly blue to the east. Early trigger and much stronger and higher thermals! Light southerly flow aloft. An instability in the 15,000-30,000 foot layer will be over our area today, expected to trigger isolated high thunderstorms, should be no factor for today's racing. We're heading to the far north-east corner of our task area today, on a 4 hour TAT turn-area task. After Wright and Carter, across to our eastern-most turnpoints Drews Resevoir in Oregon, down to Alturas, then return. Winning speed expected 100mph.

The day started very late, with one sniffer immediately landing and others unable to get decent altitude. In the distance south of Mt. Shasta we can see a line of cloud approaching, the edge of the marine air convergence. Could this generate a line of storms to run home from the east? What's all that heavy cirrus to the east? Open class is off first today, and eventually we're launched and gradually climbing above the hills. Task change in the air: 3.5 hour TAT with turns Carter, then east to Backscatter (east of Medicine Lake), Radar (south of Klamath Falls Oregon), Dry Lake (again east of Medicine Lake) and return.

With the late start to the day, approaching marine air from the south, only a few wisps over the higher mountains, cirrus shading the eastern part of the task area, and forecast potential storms, it seems like we should get on task pronto. I started at 2:14, planning to climb high out the top of the start cylinder, then cross over the Marbles to the developing clouds. Impatiently I took a weak thermal out the top and headed west from 11,000 feet, which is dubious for getting onto the Marbles. Didn't find anything over the foothills south of Mt. Wright and slid down to below 6000 feet opposite the dreaded Scott Valley airport, finally found 4-5 knots, climbed high enough to fly back up to Mt. Etna and 8-9 knots topped by wisps. Up to over 12,000 feet, under clouds headed south into the Carter cylinder, life is good! Bounced strong lift over 14,000 and pressed to the far south-west corner of the Carter turn area. Across to the east, the high ground east of Mt. Shasta is in shade under cirrus, but there is a monster cloud past Deer Mountain and wisps into the north part of the Backscatter turn area. Leaving Carter, I follow wisps and clouds and take 5 knots to over 15,000 before crossing China, where I again top off to over 14,000 feet to ensure an easy crossing to that beckoning cloud. Nose down and blast across, and after a brief search I settle into an 11 knot climb to 17,000 under that gorgeous yummy cloud. The Backscatter turn area is completely in cirrus shade except a bit of sun and wisps at the northern edge. I head for that area and cross my fingers. After a 50 mile glide with only a brief climb, I exit the far edge of the turn cylinder to the sun and a 5 knot climb back over 14,000 feet. That's enough for a comfortable 40 mile glide to the high ground at the next turn Radar, where I climb from 8000 feet in a few cores that strengthen from 4.5 knots low to 8 knots higher. When I can comfortably line up a few clouds into the last turn area I head out, and eventually take 7-8 knots back up to 17,000 feet and final glide home through the last turn area. The point I calculated in the last turn area brought me to within a couple of miles of the convergence line near Medicine Lake, and I was briefly tempted to run the edge, but it was off course, there was some disorganization and virga, and besides I had an MC 7 final glide home! Last 60 miles took only 30 minutes ;-) 78mph is good enough to win today, and I'm now just 70 points behind Bill Gawthrop.

Day 5 flight visualization on OLC
Day 5

Day 6, Wednesday 2-July-2014

Tim Taylor won 15-meter on Tuesday at 90mph. 15-meter started 35 minutes after open, with much better lift out the top and developed cumulous cloud on both the east and west side of Scott Valley (Duzel or the Marbles), hence much faster speeds. Tim ran Duzel and deep into Carter under nice clouds, and after crossing ended up on the same sunny spot past the Backscatter turn. He pressed past the high ground at Radar and was rewarded with a strong climb to cloudbase and then ran deeper into the Dry Lake turn. That did require hooking north around the OD and virga but that didn't hurt Tim's speed!

The sky today has low alto-cu, haze, some cirrus, and generally lots of moisture. Local news is buzzing with warnings about thunderstorms and lightning this afternoon. Walt Rogers briefs that a 40,000 foot tall thunderstorm is expected this afternoon around 5PM, drifting to our north by 6PM. Maximum forecast instability is actually in the Scott Valley. Walt expects early lift at Gunsight start and a strong day, with minimal cirrus impact, and the convergence line north of Mt. Shasta. Thermal strengths and cloudbase similar to yesterday, with light south-westerly wind.

Due to expected storms, the details of the safety finish are briefed, allowing a pilot to finish the race 10 miles out and head somewhere else safer. We are reminded a safety finish 10 miles out is at 8miles x 200 feet/mile + 3220 = 4820 feet MSL...

Task today is again a 3.5 hour TAT with cylinders around Wright, Carter, Schonchin (north of Medicine Lake), Drews Resevoir, Dry Lake, and return.

Open class is off first today, this time on schedule with an easy climb out. With good lift and clear signs that we'll have storms later, it seems a bad idea to hang around. I started at 12:55 with most open pilots, though Bill Gawthrop waited another half hour. An easy climb out the gate and run to a wisp over the peak of Mt. Wright wasn't super fast, but a few turns at 3 knots to back over 11,000. Now we've got a line of wisps over the Marbles heading to solid cumulous in the Carter cylinder. Solid but not super-fast 12,000 foot cloudbase, the day is still developing, all the way to the back of the Carter cylinder. The route direct to Mt. Eddy is blue, so I follow a line of clouds in an arc to China, but they didn't work well. I can't see the optimum route across to the east with the haze and finally top out at M. Eddy before heading across. Plenty of cloud marking lift on the north flank of Mt. Shasta. Steve Leonard VJS, Mike Robison and Tom Stepleton in JOY and I run the convergence along the high ground and past Medicine Lake. Mostly we're just running but a few quick climbs at 9 knots can't be resisted. There's already a virga and overdevelopment to our left in Butte Valley; this will clearly build to a real storm later.

Its really hazy but I can see enough cloud shadow ahead to pick a good route through the Schonchin turnpoint and north to the Drew Resevoir turn area. As we head north into Oregon it blues out with only a few wisps, but I follow some kind of weak convergence and lose little altitude in the run. There are really nice clouds past the resevoir and I press on to find a 12 knot (yes !!) climb to over 14,000. I press under a line of clouds to the north end of the Drew cylinder and return to the same thermal, this time only 10 knots to over 15,000 feet. I pass JOY still headed north; first glider I've seen in eons. Heading south, the storms are building huge towers in the distance, and isolated clouds allow bumping south for 45 miles. I connect with the edge of clouds around the convergence and climb from 10,000 back up to 13,000 base. The last turn cylinder is at the edge of the buildup, so I continue until the south edge of the stuff is off my right wingtip and turn. The convergence is feeding from the south, with rain now in Butte Valley, so I think the safe (and fast) route home is run the south side and turn towards Montague in the lee of Mt. Shasta. JOY is with me again, ahead and lower, following the same route. I continue bouncing lift to stay at cloudbase well above nominal final glide height, as passing Medicine Lake I can see some rain shafts to the left of the path home, and want as much energy as possible just in case. JOY presses on ahead and a bit lower, and as I hear Mike call 8 miles I hit rain and sink. Glad to have the extra energy to finish 3 minutes after JOY, in light rain under mammatus cloud and a huge anvil. The pattern was very turbulent though smooth at touch-down, but as I taxi off the pea-size hail starts (boy is that loud in the cockpit), fortunately no damage. The safety finish was promptly activated...

My 88.46mph speed was good for 3rd today; Bill Gawthrop did 95.6mph to win again! I was happy to have started early; unlike yesterday open class had the advantageous early start time today.

Day 7, Thursday 3-July-2014

Wednesday, Daniel Sazhin BT won 15-meter again in the Duckhawk at 88mph. With the late start Wright and the Marbles were working a bit better, and Daniel flew without circling until deep into the convergence past Mt. Shasta, and a good run deep into the north turn area. Daniel says the automatic flap mechanism in the Duckhawk worked extremely well in the dynamic conditions. Also Wednesday, Tim Taylor pulls ahead of Ray Gimmey into first place in 15-meter. Ray had a tough day, finishing 5th at 77mph and 100 points in back of Tim. In open, Bill Gawthrop leads with 150 points ahead of me in 2nd, and I'm 150 points in front of 3rd place Mike Robison.

Wednesday's Open winner Bill Gawthrop F8 decided to start a bit later than the pack with better developed cloud on the first leg. He ran under many beautiful clouds towards Carter, none of which worked, which left Bill low on China. A good climb into fabulous convergence and a fast run north to the back of the northern cylinder (to make up for just nicking Carter). Bill ran the storm shelf back to finish just after I did, in the hail-storm as he descended to landing. Special thanks to the line crew for helping Bill off the runway in the hail-storm.

No thunderstorms today! Banquet tonight! Storm tops hit 47,000 feet yesterday. Today we have much drier air, light southwest flow aloft, no thunderstorms today. Some weather models show clouds, others blue. Soundings forecast a good strong soaring day 6-8 knots typical, with marine air incursion from the north only in the Shasta valley. Early trigger with 10,000 foot thermals by noon. Convergence line by Mt. Shasta has alreay set up 10AM.

Today's task is a 3.5 hour MAT with turns Wright, China Peak, Dry Lake, Deer Mtn, Schonchin, Dry Lake (again), Radar, Three Sheds, and home. That's 313 miles, so we won't use all the turnpoints unless we're really screaming.

Another late start with Open Class off 2nd, and our task doesn't even open until almost 2:30PM. My initial attempt at starting found sink and I turned around for a restart, finally starting at 2:46PM. Steve Leonard in Nimbus VJS had an even later start after some difficulty getting a decent climb out the top. A decent run to Wright peak and then a good 8 knot climb to 14k near Duzel enroute to China, but no markers - by myself today and late. Easy run across to north of Shasta, where the convergence is following a diagonal line well north of Medicine Lake and the first turn at Dry Lake(the convergence is over the high ground east of Butte Valley). Follow the lift, then angle towards the turn, and a 6 knot thermal in the blue makes it easy to stuff the nose down headed back west to the convergence and the Deer Mountain turn (by Mt. Shasta). A 7 knot climb increasing to 9 knots to 14,000 feet, with the little Duckhawk circling far below, things are looking good so far! Nick the turn, top off to 14k under the convergence, and head back east to the 3rd and 4th turns out by Medicine Lake.

To finish in 2nd, I have to do is a reasonable finish - I have a 150 point lead over third place. But I'm feeling confident! A 4 knot climb to 12k under an isolated cloud before the convergence weakens, so I press to the convergence enroute to the Radar turn. I don't hit any core, so press onwards to the Radar 15 miles past the convergence The plan is to return to the convergence, get high and run the convergence to the final turn and part way home for a screaming final glide. Ooops. When I turn from Radar, the clouds in the convergence are sagging and decaying, and some cirrus is coming in blocking the late afternoon sun. The sun and breeze are on the west faces of the hills under the convergence, so this has to work! But it doesn't. I follow the terrain over likely thermal triggers, but find nothing, lower, lower, lower... After mucking about too long I admit I've blown it and start the motor....

After running in 2nd place the entire contest, all I had to do was a slow finish today for 2nd place and a .96+ seeding. By being too aggressive, I've plummetted to 4th place and a .908 seeding. Aaarrrgggg...

Bill Gawthrop got out of the gate promptly and won another day, finishing first place with a beautifully flown contest. Mike Robison JOY slides up to 2nd, and Rick Walters 3rd in Pete's Arcus 98.

In 15-meter, Ray Gimmey flew 85.70 mph and only 3 points in back of the day winner, and wins first place overall. Tim Taylor TT finishes in 2nd place, and Sean Murphy XC takes 3rd overall.


Thanks again to Rex and Noelle Mayes for putting on a fabulous event, CD Dale Bush for calling tasks to best use Montague's unique weather, Walt Rogers WX for the weather forecasting, and the host of volunteers, tuggies, line-boys, and all that make an event like this run smoothly. The small airport in Montague was fantastic and enormously more hospitable than the larger county airport we've used before. Thanks folks!

I'm back home in Acton after the 3200 mile return drive. These trips are tiring but definitely worth it! But enough gliding for a while until I recover...

Hope you enjoy this and please email with questions or comments,
Best Regards, Dave "YO"

Links for more information...

2014 Montague Open Classs and 15-Meter Nationals contests results on SSA web site
Dave's Soaring publications, including blogs from past contests
Nadler & Associates Home Page

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