The Gordon Report Sat – Unlimited
Weather for Saturday was forecast to be overcast with a 10mph breeze from the North. A cold front which has been meandering down the Florida Peninsula was due to pass through sometime during the afternoon.
A great field of 30 pilots registered with Lewis Gray the Buzzards treasurer and at 10:00am Rick Eckel our CD began the pilots meeting. Rick announced 7 minutes max to start and a new rule abandoning the “Florida No Dork Rule” was announced. Today we could “stick it in” (if we chose to) and still get landing points. For some of us this was great news as we have been lobbying for a rule change, to be more in line with the rest of the world and the club kindly agreed to give it a go. No loose parts still applys so it doesn’t really change much – other than allows a landing to still score even if the sailplane is nosed in.
Round one began with cool conditions around 65 degrees with a gentle wind and not a lot of activity. There was an occasional Buzzard but not the usual large numbers we generally would see at this time of the day. A variety of different tactics were employed to find air and 7 pilots maxed the round to prove there was good stuff to be had. Nathan Miller went downwind and flew back and forth in fairly neutral air to find his time. Jody Miller and I tried a different plan flying upwind to nice air and drifting back with some very soft lift.
Todays modern Unlimited ships give us many options to find air as they can cover so much ground that there really is no need to stay put if the air isn’t working. That was going to be an important tactic today as lift wasn’t being marked and with few signs a search pattern was necessary.
At the end of the Round, it was a magnificent 100 point landing by Jody that took the 1st in honors to go with his 6:59 time. Paul Perrett fro New Orleans wasn’t to be out done and also hity the 100 pointer and a 6:58 to be 2nd with Nathan Miller a 6:58 – 83 3rd, myself a 7:00 – 76 4th and Buddy Bradley from Pensacola a 6:58 – 70 the 5th in honors callup for round 2. Many of the pilots in the rest of the field found the air difficult to read and the average time was nearer to 5:00 minutes. In spite of this our CD saw seven good maxes and called the time for Round 2 to be 8:00 minutes.
The air was a couple of degrees warmer as we launched for Round 2 in the callup. Once again though the lift was soft and required careful re-adjustment almost every turn to center a thermal I finally managed to core my piece of air at the 5 minute mark and began climbing pretty rapidly just when it was time to come home. Jody also found good air and made the most of it and then showed us that he meant business with a great 8:02 and ANOTHER 100 pointer to be clear leader of the contest after 2 rounds as well as honors 1st up. I made a 7:58 – 96 to be 2nd in honors and Joh Vennerholm an LSF Level 5 pilot from the Space Coast flew his Genie LTS to a 7:53 – 99 to be third in the callup. 4th was Jim Maclean with Nathan Miller 5th in honors for the start of round 3.
Round 2 saw a few more buzzards come out and mark lift and more maxes were made. John Kennedy flew a great flight with his Supra in marginal lift downwind to make his time with just enough height to set up his landing when he got home.
Round 3 was simply tough air to read when the 5 callup pilots launched and only the wizardry of Nathan Miller saw him pull out a max while the other 4 of us all flew in the wrong places and found ourselves short on time. I said a few “Hail Marys” as I extended my flight time by about 70 seconds turning in the LZ at around 20 or 30 feet to finally give it up and make a great 94 landing to go with an awful 5:52. 8 pilots made maxes though, so the air was available during the round and Nathan showed an uncanny ability to know where it was. His 7:59 – 91 was top score for the round with Randy Everley (a Sportsman pilot fast improving) took 2nd best flight with an 8:04 -92. Ray Munro came all the way from Canada to fly with us and put in a 7:55 – 92 to be 3rd in honors. Lance Ropke flying what we would call a bitsa (bitsa this and bitsa that) made 4th with Larry Squire filling up 5th spot. Larry is always a threat flying his Shadow and he impressed with a very good 7:57 – 57.
Rick got Round 4 underway quickly before lunch was brought out and the best air of the day was enjoyed with over 20 pilots maxing in increasingly overcast but warming conditions. It’s funny to watch the mad scranmble that Open winch format creates when good lift is apparent. Sometimes the equipemnt doesn’t oblige and today was no exception with our fair share of retriever tangles and the occasional line break. We were very fortunate today to have Costa Franscico and Raed assisting with repairs and we really appreciate their help. Speaking of help what a wonderful job Jim MacLeans wife Carol did on the scoring. She is an angel and took the pressure off me all day. Thank you so much for helping out two days in a row. Great job.
The top five Round 4 flyers were Nathan Miller 7:59 – 94, Buddy Bradley 8:03 – 91, myself 8:01 – 88, Jody Miller 7:58 -88 and Bernie Coleman flying his Supra 7:57 – 89.
We ordered a catered lunch from Sonnys BBQ today and the beans particularly were fantastic. With a choice of shredded pork, chicken 2 different BBQ beans and coleslaw and great Texas toast it was a fine meal. While we enjoyed lunch a great cloud of buzzards worked their way up and out and I am sure that the 45 minutes we didn’t fly today were the best 45 minutes of air in the entire day. Funny how that happens.
Starting round 5 the scoresheet saw Nathan Miller in first place with 2211 points 2nd was Lance Ropke on 2084 and I was 3rd on 2083. Jody Miller was lurking in 4th place on 2020 and Jim MacLean in 5th place on 1918 points.
Round 5 after lunch started with air to die for as smooth lift was available in three different areas adjacent to the field during my flight. At one point we had more than 12 pilots in the air and aircraft working lift and everybody having a very jolly time. In the end Mike Popescu and his Orca from the west coast of Florida was the best finisher with a great 8:0 – 96. 2nd in the round was Jody with a 8:00 – 95 and 3rd was Paul Perrett who was flying his Sharon very well. 4th callup man for Rd 6 was Jamie Mercado with his X who though quiet of late is one of the most talented fliers in Florida. 5th and last in the callup was the unstoppable Nathan Miller. Once again over 20 pilots had made their max as the entire field enjoyed smooth lift although never strong.
Mike Popescu led off and showed he still has the skills to post another great flight. Things were cooling down though as the overcast got heavier and the effect of the hidden sun less and less. Clearly one had to go further afield now to find that elusive up air. Paul Perrett in the honors group missed it as can happen, but Nathan launching number 5 got the best look and used the conditions to post a round winning score of 7:57 – 94. I filled 2nd spot on the last round honors with a 7:59 – 88 and Jody took up 3rd spot with an 8:00 – 85. 4th was Bernie Coleman with a terrific 7:56 – 83 and Lance Ropke kept up the great consistent flying he started with yesterday to be 5th in the callup with a 7:57 – 79.
As Rick called us up for the last round it began to sprinkle just a little with light rain but not enough to have us not fly. Nathan launched and went right to a buzzard working lift and I followed quickly after. Jody also followed us to the same area and we all worked light lift for 2 or 3 minutes which gradually petered out. Jody and Nathan both left to the west and I made my biggest error of the day as I remained in the area only to realize I had been losing and not gaining to finish up on the deck well short of my time.
Nathan and Jody finished the contest with excellent maxes and good landing points. Ray Alonzo flying his old beat up Escape (though wayward with an earlier landing in the neighbors backyard came back strongly to win the final round in style with an 8:01- 97. Gerald Baxter also impressed with a 8:00 – 93 and Mike Popescu clearly has the skills as he maxed again with his Orca to post a 8:04 – 96. Late in the last round Jim MacLean and Buddy Bradley had a spectacular midair which saw Jims Pike lose almost its entire fin and rudder. The missing section was found embedded in the leading edge of Buddy’s Eraser when he landed. Both planes suffered no further damage but it was commendable flying for both to complete their round with Jim even scoring 91 landing points.
Rick called us over for the presentations and first up were the Sportsman.
3rd place Sportsman was Mike Naylor on 2886, 2nd Spt was Ray Munro from Canada, and 1st in Sportsman was Randall Everley of LA with some excellent skills displayed today.
3rd in Expert was Lance Ropke with a repeat from his 3rd in RES yesterday. Congrats Lance.
2nd was Jody X Miller with consistent flying all day and the best landing average to boot. (Jody managed to avaerage 93.6 in the LZ today.)
1st place was the thermal wizard of Nathan Miller with great flying all day and not one max missed. Well done Nathan. You are a class act and bloody hard to beat. (I slipped from grace in the last round and finished 4th.) 5th in Unlimited was Mike Popescu with some excellent flying. Great to see you out again Mike. Come and fly more often.
Great day of TD in Florida. Even better tomorrow.
CU all then.