2014 Santa Cruz Flats Race, day 1 and 2

I’ve heard about the good flying in Arizona from my teammates who went there several times in the past. The September timeframe is a good time for us Scandinavians, as the season at home is ending now. So this year I tagged along with the team hoping to have some fun flying over in the western US desert. This year we are 5 pilots from Norway, Olav Opsanger, Nils Aage Henden, Olav Lien Olsen, Thomas Lindal and me. There are also 3 Swedes here, a scattering of South Americans and an Ozzie among the US majority.

My main goal for this comp is to fly and get some more hours and practice flying after a crap season at home, so I’ve bought a used Litespeed RS 3.5 from Bruce Barmakian, and he kindly brought it to the comp for me. The glider is in good shape, but the sail is quite soft after use, and the performance is far from as good as my RX I have at home. After the first day I replaced the worn out VG rope, as I had a hard time pulling the VG, I then got a left turn on ¾ to full VG, so that made day 2 quite hard as we had good conditions for long glides.

I also fitted some Skyline wingtips to improve the performance after day 1, on the first day I was outclimbed by pretty much everyone, but day 2 with the wingtips I could climb much better and at least keep up with the newer T2C’s in the thermals. I expect the glide to improve once it’s flying straight again, I’ve adjusted the glider after day 2 so we just need another flying day now.


The RS in the Arizona dust.

Day 1 was a short task of 82km, keeping us fairly close to the takoff/goal. I got a super smooth tow and a OK start in weak conditions. I struggled a little with getting high in the thermals all day, but got to goal about 5 minutes after the lead gaggle when they outglided me after the second TP.

Task 1 and results

Day 2 was a 121km task, and conditions were a bit better but with high clouds moving in and shading the courseline in the later part of the task. I got a terrible start after trying to move upwind and find a better position around 20 minutes before the start, we were 4 gliders heading out, but found nothing and I had to glide back to the main gaggle and did not have enough time to get high again. I took the start behind and 3-400 meters lower than the main gaggle, and suffered for that mistake the rest of the task coming in low and behind in the lift. I met up with Nils Aage scraping in very low at the last TP in the shade, taking 0.1 and 0.2m/s lift to stay up, thus taking forever to get back up to final glide attitude and loosing even more time. I attempted a 15:1 final, it was good for a few km, but then deteriorated rapidly to 18:1 so I had to stop over Casa Grande downtown where we got some residual heat from the buildings and roads generating a nice weak thermal to get us into goal.

 Task 2 and results

Yesterday, and today is gray and windy with some rain, we are under the tropical rainstorm Odlie, which is predicted to bring catastrophic flooding in our area today and tomorrow, so it looks like no flying the next days…

Cyclone Odlie giving us a nice sunset before the storm
Gliders packed up and out of the rain