Saturday, 7 July 2012

Issoudun Saturday 7 July 2012

Today is the first official day of the Issoudun ‘Feminine Nationals’ and it opened with an early briefing at 10:00 after we had placed the glider on the grid.
It’s a strange business because today Issoudun have a couple of competitions finishing and a couple more starting, so it’s all rather complicated.  We had a better introduction to the airfield and the procedures today, but it was still very much ‘Frenglish’.
The weather certainly appeared to be better than yesterday however with a predicted cloudbase of 1500m and tops at 3000m (I have to mentally recalculate these figures into feet as this is how the cockpit is instrumented).
A triangular task of 178km was set which I marked onto the maps and programmed into the LX7007F in the cockpit and also in the IPAQ. 
This is a picture of the Cirrus on the front of the grid – you can see the grid stretching out way to the far end of the runway.  You can also see the blue tow rope that we had to make up and bring with us because at these International competitions apparently, you have to use your own tow rope and the tow pilot drops it on approach (I’ve never had to do it before).  It’s supposed to make for a quicker turnaround, but I’m not convinced and Steve was not impressed at having to retrieve it from thistles today!
We were launched at 12:45 after a delay of 20 minutes whilst they decided to compress the grid because the organisers were not sure that there was sufficient runway ahead, especially with a tailwind…  This I think was to be a factor because we lost 20 minutes of what was a good early start to the day.  As I started the task, I was only able to find useful clouds for about 20 kilometres, because the sky became over cast and then eventually turned blue.  The conditions became extremely difficult, but I did manage to turn the first turning point, but it was a case of grovelling along at 1500ft from landable field to hopefully landable field.  I turned the turning point on my own and went back down track to some gliders in the hope of staying airborne and I continued this way for some time.  Eventually I realised that with the increasing wind, I was almost back to the gliding club at Issoudun; I couldn’t believe it!  I knew I was off track and all I’d tried to do was stay with other gliders in an attempt to find my way to the second turning point.  I was very hot and absolutely shattered; I’d been airborne several hours and I did something I’ve never done before, I made the decision to land back at Issoudun airfield because I was so far off track.  Needless to say, Steve was not impressed, and I felt awful about it.  However, it turned out that I was not alone; several pilots had done the same thing.

However, unfortunately for me, two of the other UK pilots managed to fly around the whole task and another came close to doing so; this will give them a good score to start with.  A further check on the score appears to place me in around 14 position/or 6th position, depending on how you interpret it due to the fact that non-French fly as ‘Hors Concors’.
They have forecast a huge storm overnight, so it’s back to making sure everything is secure on the campsite; we had already de-rigged the glider in anticipation. 

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