With a windy day forecast it looked like Rich Kiburis’s first 2M Challenge contest might be a tough one. The weather man said we would be having 12 to 15 mph wind with up to 27 mph gusts from the East. A good turnout arrived early at the field to assist with setup and the launch equipment was assembled by Raed and Rich by 8:40am with plenty of time to get some trim flights in before the wind got started. Jody Miller had told me during the week that he didn’t have a 2M to fly but he would come out and help. I offered him my old Laser back-up aircraft to fly in the contest and he was at the field with her early to trim her out. The test flights went without incident and at 9:30am Rich called a pilots meeting for the 13 flyers who had come out to brave the wind.
Rich announced that we would be using the honors callup system where the top 3 flyers from the previous round would launch first at the start of the following rounds.
First flights got underway by 9:45 am with a 5 minute max required for round 1. Rick Eckel quickly set the scene for his scoring for the day with a great 5:02 and a perfect 100 point landing. Rick is flying an old Laser very well. He loves 2M and has a lot of experience with his Laser. It certainly shows with the way he handles this classy old ship. Rich Kiburis our CD has come out to play this year with one of the new moldies. He has a Sprite and is probably going to be the flyer to watch as this series unfolds. He shot the 2nd best score in round one with a 5:03 – just missing the landing for a 75. 3rd best Score was Ray Alonzo flying one of those beautiful Eastern European composite ships called an Enigma. The Enigma not only flys great in the wind but seems to be a great floater as well. Ray hit the line at 4:45 for a 75 landing.
Halfway through round one the forecast wind began to blow and those who launched as the wind picked up got much improved launch height but the steady lift was now spotty at best with a high cloud obscuring the sun and slowing down the heating of the ground.
Rich called our top three to the line for round 2 and those of us who weren’t in the callup watched with interest to see if Rick Rich and Ray could get the 7 minutes required with a steady cool wind blowing across the field at about 7 mph. As id often the case, Rick Eckel was the one in the lead group to find enough up air to get his time but Rich and Ray found the going tough. In fact Rick was the only pilot to get 7 mins in round 2 and the next nearest was Jody Miller flying my old Laser. Jodys time was 4:57 with a 75 landing and third for this round was Rich Kiburis with 4:03 and 100. It was a fairly dismal start for the rest of us with some sink so bad that scores under 3 minutes were posted. An exception to this carnage was our Sportsman young Leife Francisco, flying a Spirit very well to manage a 5:16 and a 25 landing. Leife just missed out on being called up in the honors for Round 3 but his time was the 2nd highest posted for the round in air that was mostly very unfriendly. Leife has shown us that he is a willing learner and I believe we will see him moving up through the ranks this year as he continues to practice his skills. My flight in Round 2 was the cause for much laughter as I tried to hard to catch a bubble over the pond and found myself scratching to get back to terra firma. We have a special Buzzards perpetual trophy which passes to each pilot that has a need to extricate their aircraft from a watery landing. I had managed to relieve myself of this little reminder of disaster only a few months ago so as I swooped lower and lower over the pond the thought of that little yellow rubber duck flashed in to my head. I eeked as much distance as I could but to my dismay when she sank to earth a splash of water came up from where my Duck had come to rest. I ran to her in fear of her sinking and was amazed to find my Duck had slithered onto dry land and had just splashed the water with her tail as she plopped down. Lucky – very lucky.
Round 3 was more of the same with the air once again being extremely difficult. If you launched at exactly the right time you could find some decent air but 5 minutes later it seemed that everything was down hill as the wind speed continued to increase and the temps stayed down. Jody followed a bubble downwind to manage a great max while Rusty Carver flying great with an old Ruby pushed out forward into a wave and got his max too. These were the only maxes for the round once again with the rest of us landing early. The sink was so savage to the left side of the field that some very talented flyers like Ray and Rich only just managed to crack 2 minutes before they were on the deck. Only 7 pilots exceeded 3 minutes for the round.
The honors callup for Round 4 was Jody, Rusty and Jim MacLean filing 3rd spot with his Image.
Jody led off for Round 4 with Rusty following him. Rusty didn’t follow him literaly though because Jody didn’t get the best of this piece of air landing short as did Jim. Rusty somehow managed to find the right place to go and made the only perfect score for the day with a 7:00 – 100. Rich Kiburis slipped in a 6:56 – 75 and Rick (not to be outdone) posted a great 7:07 – 25. Rick had led the contest from the first flight and had built a commanding lead of 130 points over Rusty by the end of round 4. It looked like we would not be able to catch him as his Laser simply sniffed out all the thermals and made them work. As soon as Rusty had landed he was on the job at the BBQ cooking our burgers and dogs while the rest of the pilots completed the round. The air was still really difficult to pick and many of us were struggling to make our times. I personally had flown my Lawicki Duck in the first 4 rounds in all the wrong parts of the sky and didn’t even come close to a max once. Depressing stuff! I wasn’t he only one having a bad day but that didn’t make it any easier.
After lunch was enjoyed by all Round 5 was started with Rusty, Rich and Rick leading off. Conditions had clearly improved with a few feathered buzzards lazily trying to find thermals in the warmer air. The wind was still blowing around 10mph but there were definite lift cycles to be exploited now as long as you picked the right moment to go. Obviously with honors callup some don’t have that luxury and only the canny Rusty Carver was able to find some of that elusive good air of the 3 leaders to scape home with a 6:08 – 100 which was the 2nd best score for the round. For the first time today I managed to send the Duck up at the right moment and found a downwind boomer which took me almost out of sight in less than 3 minutes to finish with the best Rd 5 score of 7:00 – 75. Jody also posted a good 7:01 – 25 to be 3rd on the honors for round 6. This was just one of those days with Round 6 being the toughest round of the day. The cool wind oscillated from around 10 mph to gusts of 18 or more and lift was a devil to find and stay in. It was so difficult that I posted the best round score with a measly 4:06 – 100. The biggest story for the round though was Rick with his Laser who was simply putting distance on the entire field all day. This round he also had well and truly under his control with a max in his grasp but not without certain risk. While we were all landing short of our times, Rick was working patchy lift above the tree line. Then one of our notorious gusts came through with Rick seemingly too low and too deep to crawl back to the edge of the forest. Sadly the Laser was swallowed up in the brush and Florida Palmetto trees. Jody and I spent 2 1/2 hours looking for it after the contest without success. Those Palmetto trees are incredibly nasty!
The 2nd highest score for Round 6 was posted by our junior Leife Francisco with his Spirit. I timed for Leife and it was a joy to watch him work three separate pieces of good air in a heavy wind to post a creditable 5:37. Leife missed the landing or he could have easily won the round. 3rd for the penultimate round was ray Alonzo with a 5:09 – 0. So with just one round to go the leader board really was switched around with Rick out of it. It looked like Rusty and Jody would be duking it out for the top spot.
I launched first for Round seven and turned and burned downwind to some soaring feathered friends past the treeline. Like an earlier Round I was almost out of sight in 3 minutes and spent half the round flying back up wind to finish with another max of 7:04 – 50. Rusty didn’t get the best of the available air but didn’t miss with his landing for another 100 pointer. Ray shot a 7:01 -25 to finish strongly after a disappointing day for a pilot of his talents. It was up to Jody who was last away to challenge Rusty for the top spot for the day and he would need a perfect score to pull it off. It didn’t look good with just 2 1/2 minutes on the clock as Jody flew back to the treeline in desperation as sink clutched his Laser. With only about 150 feet of air left under his ship he finally caught a bubble on the treeline and worked some extremely turbulent lift for a couple of minutes before this washing machine chucked him out and he scooted upwind to avoid joining Rick’s Laser in the Palmettos. As is often the case the upwind segment was through horror sink and the best Jody could do was shoot for a landing which also eluded him. It wasn’t Jody’s day but he did finish a strong second place to a victorious Rusty ‘carves em up’ Carver. Yours truly managed to climb up the ladder to a improbable 3rd place with 3 strong late rounds. Rich Kiburis was in 4th place and Ray Alonzo 5th. Rick finished 6th after missing the final round and 7th was Jim MacLean. 8th Tom Galloway and 9th Vic Manget. Congrats to Leife for coming in 10th with the Spirit. Good work mate!
I have been practicing landings a lot during the last few months so I am always interested in how I am going statistically at each contest. The best landing score today was easily Rich’s effort with 450 points. I was second with 375 and Rusty was 3rd with 350. There are many points available in the LZ that I need to keep working on.
All in all the 2M challenge was a lot of fun and a special thanks to Rich Kiburis for organizing the contest and doing a stellar job of CD’ing it. Thankyou to Raed for keeping all the equipment working today and also to Rusty for not only kicking our butts but also feeding us as well. Looking forward to the 2nd Challenge in June.