Sunday – 1st Seeded Man on Man contest in years
This is the contest we have been waiting for in Florida with a seeded man on man planned as a trial in preparation for this years Tangerine. It has been many years since the Man on man format has been flown and with the goal in place to attract more participants to this years Tangerine one of the changes is adopting this format. With seeded MOM each flight group is orderd according to their place in the contest and pilots get ot fly against those pilots who are nearest to their skill level and get scored against just those pilots. This means that you fly in the same air at the same time and have the same opportunity to score. It’s a great format, is easy to run and provides in may peoples opinion the most fun. A few things are for sure – “Sand bagging” is out! Being ready to fly is required- and gobs of fun TD flying is definitely in!
Ed White has embraced the efforts to try the seeded MOM concept and took on the important task of CDing the contest. I used a great computer program developed by Pat Crosby of the Chicago SOAR club to do the scoring and this program made the job super easy. I have discussed the scoring aspect at length with Marc Gellart and he pointed out that with normalizing the scores it can actually be done pretty quickly with a calculator as the score cards themselves are used on the board to show the position of each pilot during the contest. In any case – with logistics like 4 good winches set up and Ed’s Kawasaki mule modified to do the retrieving we were set up for a day of epic fun.
Ed explained the rules at 8:30am, announced an 8 minute task straight up and we were ready to start the first group in the air by 9:00am. The computer randomly selects the participants for Round 1 and as luck may have it, she randomly chose me to launch 1st (for the second day in a row.) My group of 4 included Rich Kiburis, Ed White and Mike Agnew – an auspicious mess of competitors indeed! The air was simply gorgeous with not a cloud to be seen and just the slightest hint of a breeze from the south west. Being a fairly early flight for TD my plan was to explore the forested air to see what heat might be releasing from the face of the woods. Bouyant air was available and I nursed my 3.8 X back to LZ for a perfect 8:00 and 95 landing for the 1000 points in my group. Ed almost got his time with a 7:36 landing a little early but hit the 100 for a close 2nd in the group while the others were well short on time.
Flight group 2 was Chris Manley, Paul Mittendorf, Larry Squire and Ray Alonzo. Ray took the 1000 points with a 5:44 – 100 to larry’s 5:13 – 0. This was a perfect example of how seeded MOM works where if you are launching with your group in bad air – you are all launching in bad air and you only get scored against your group’s best time for that flight group. Hence the 1000 points for Ray’s excellent scratching flight to make the most of what air was available. It was great to see Chris plonk his Spirit in the LZ for an 85 pointer too. Great job mate! Allan Parsons has been flying very well of late and he just pipped Mike Naylor for the 1000 in Group 3 with a 7:55 -100. Raed and Dan Johns failed to get the time and landed around 6 minutes. The final flight group of 4 in Rd 1 were Nathan Miller, Chick McCann, Jody Miller and Kris Van Nostran. Nathan showed his class and stole the show in this illustrious company with a perfect 8:00 – 100 and 1000 points with Jody a close 2nd 8:02 – 100 for 996.55 points. Kris and Chuck didn’t get their times though Chuck shot a great 95 landing. With Round one complete we completed scoring and posted the cards on the board and checked the clock. We had completed a round of MOM with 4 groups of 4 pilots in approx 40 minutes including the scoring. Great effort for our first attempt.
Ed got busy at the board calling the pilots for round 2 and we discovered that it was easy to assign timers direct from the board with pilots from Group 1 being assigned their respective times from Group 3 and Pilots from Group 2 getting their timers from Group 4 and so on. This system worked great all day and proved to have a bonus effect of getting to time for and be timed by pilots we had never worked with before and developing new relationships with them that otherwise may not have occurred. For me that was the highlight of a very exciting contest where during each round there was constant action with the next group launching a minute or two before the previous group landed. The computer sorted the pilots and grouped them after each completed round and the lowest 4 scores launched in flight Group one with the highest scoring 4 pilots in Flight Group 4. The sun had risen high enough for plenty of thermal action as Round 2 began and each Group had pilots finding favorable air without travelling too far from our tree lined field. Kris Van Nostran continued his great flying with a 7:57 – 95 to take 1000 from group 1. Mike Agnew returning from a few years away (a very, very warm welcome back Mike,) excelled in Group 2 with a 7:55 – 60 flying a very serviceable “old school” Complusion. Of signifigance in this group again was Chris Manleys effort under Nathan’s guidance achieving a max with the Spirit. Group 3 was taken by Ed White and his new Supra with an 8:01 – 100 while I pipped my rivals in Group 4 with a near perfect 7:59 – 100.
I must thank Raed and Chris Manley for assisting with the writing of scorecards and posting on the board between rounds as they came and helped after each round was over and the job was completeed in just a few minutes each time. Ed turned the pilots around with great marshalling and got Round 3 under way almost before the previous flyers had found their lawn chairs. The task was kept at 8 minutes and it was great once again to see a champion like Nathan Miller tutoring Chris Manley flying a Spirit in the 1st Group. That was the result of assigning timers off the board and fliers like Chris who are learning the craft of reading air and guiding gliders, can learn much from this sort of interaction. Chuck McCann found a sweet spot this group and brought home the bacon with a 8:03 – 90. Round 3/Group 2 was dominated by Dan Johns with an 80 in the LZ to add to his 7:55. Kris and Raed also made the time but were down in poits in the LZ. The landings were getting more diufficult as a crosswind began to set up from the west. The top score in Group 3 was put in by Nathan Miller with another of his almost perfect 8:01 – 100s with Ed white close behind missing the landing to just make a 8:01 – 75. In the final group of Rd 3 I also had difficulty in the LZ with a “bounce back” scoring only a 75 to let Ray Alonzo take the 1000 with a 8:05 – 100. Ray is flying very consistently and with his new Xplorer is going to feature in the results a lot.
We enjoyed a 30 minute break for lunch and Raed and Chris helped me post the cards on the board as the scores were entered. The day had really warmed up and lift was beginning to come through in cycles as the breeze picked up from the south west. We watched the buzzards working the good air downwind during lunch and contemplated whether ballast was going to figure in the afternoons rounds. Round 4 got underway with an 8 mph wind coming more from the west and in spite of this it was great to once again watch Chris Manley fight the drift to make a full 8:00 minute flight with the Spirit and take his group for 1000 points. Considering the experience of his foes (Rich Kiburis, Paul Mittendorf and Larry Squire) and the molded aircraft being flown against him (Supra, Shadow and Ava) I think Chris deserved 2000 points for this one! Mike Agnew showed that the cream still rises to the top as he flew the trusty Compulsion to an 8:02 – 100 to take 1000 in Group 2. Group 3 was dominated by the smooth flying of Ed White and his Supra as he out classed his rivals with a 7:58 – 85 for the 1000 points. The final group saw once again the brilliance of Nathan Miller flying an 8:00 – 100 with all 3 of the other top group flyers making the max plus landing points to be very close behind.
Round 5 saw even more wind with gusts reaching 12 to 15 as thermals swirled through the launch area. In Group 1 all of Chris’s hard work came to naught as he failed to get launched cleanly with the Spirit, but Rich Kiburis (inexplicably lanquishing in the final group) hoisted himself up the ladder with a great 7:58 for the 1000 points. Though the lift was there in regular cycles it was now much harder to exploit with the wind taking pilots a long way downwind. This saw many thermals abandoned as pilots failed to gain the necessary elevation as they drifted and led to 3 of the 4 pilots in Group 2 not making the time. Paul Mittendorf flying a Shadow showed them how it was done with a fine 8:05 – 100. Group 3 saw Ed White use the conditions to his advantage as he launched first and ventured out to marked air and made his time with an 80 landing while those less adventurous following him were all down in less tha 6 minutes. This sort of disparity in times makes a very large difference in points with normalized scoring as Ed took the 1000 and Al Parsons with a decent 5:39 -45 dropped more than 300 points. The real secret with seeded MOM is to cover your opponents in your group. Exactly like AULD in DLG where you don’t have to get the max – you just have to do as well or better than the fliers in the group you launch with. Watching what your opponents are doing during the flight is essential for success. Ed is a master of this and will be tough to beat in MOM.
The final Group in Round 5 launched with Nathan Miller first followed by Jody, myself and Ray. I felt that I was in a good position with both Jody and Nathan ahead and after they launched my timer kept me informed of their progress. Jody had gone downwind and was struggling at less than 150 feet while I worked my way around to the right where I felt was the best side. My timer told me that Jody still hadn’t gained and not to go there but my air was so bad I was getting desperate too. I took a glance and saw that Jody was definitely higher than my previous look 30 seconds earlier so I headed to the same spot. As I worked my way back there, Jody had hooked and was back at launch height and by the time I arrived in the I was the lowest and soon joined by Ray at about the same height. Ray and Jody proceeded to give me a soaring lesson as I simply could not seem to center the lift and though all three of us were in the same thermal I finally fell out the bottom had to venture home early for a dreadful 5:40 – 100. Meanwhile Nathan had failed to catch the downwind ride entirely and landed 2 1/2 mins early with a zero landing so Ray and Jody literally buried us with great maxes and Jody’s cool 95 landing earned him 1000 points and number one spot in the contest.
Round 6 was started with Raed in Group 1 working two thermals for fabulous 8:10 and 65 fopr the 1000 and totally burying his group. It was important at this time in the day to watch the lift cycles as it was easy to be stranded right in the middle of a cycle and “bomb out” as happened to Rich and Mike in Group 2. The lift was downwind to the right and Kris Van Nostran worked his pants off with a cople of saves sometimes as low as 100 feet to finally max and take a 95 for the 1000 while the others in his group struggled to make time. Mike Naylor did fly very well in tough air for a 7:20 buit without a landing it ws still over 200 points in arrears of Kris Van Nostran’s epic TD flight. Group 3 saw nathan trounce his oppositon with a masterful 8:01 – 90 in air that was far from easy. A long downwind journey did the trick though as the others landed early. The final group saw Jody launch first followed by Ed and Ray. I saw two soaring birds to the left prior to my launch and headed straight downwind to the area off my tow. I was joined by Jody and we both specked out to the East for maxes while Ed and Ray struggled and scratched for their times. Ray eventually landed 2 minutes early while Ed came home one turn too soon for a 7:34. Jody’s 100 point landing out did my 75 and he took another 1000 points to stay firmly on top in the contest with one round to go.
As we watched the gusty conditions play havoc with the first couple of groups Ed said to me “We need to watch the lift cycle.” How right he was. Group one was won by Chuck McCann with a 2:35 and 95 landing. (That is not a misprint.) Mike Agnew put up the longest flight of 3:29 in the group but failed to score a landing. Such were the conditions with medium lift available in cycles and heavy sink in between. Kris Van Nostran impressed everybody with another fine 8:00 – 100 to take the 1000 in group 2 with Rich Kiburis a couple of seconds early also with a 100 landing. The third Group launched into the next lift cycle with winches staining as the 1st 3 got the best of it. Ray Alonzo put up a 7:57 – 85 for the 1000. with Alan and Dan close behind. The scene was now set for the final group to launch in the final round and with the lift cycle far away downwind it was sure to be a nail-biting finish. Nathan chose not to fly the final round so just Ed and I were there poised to try and extricate this victory from Jody’s grasp. We both felt we could and launched full of confidence that we would. I chased Jody downwind and found the good air which though weak was working as per “normal” for a few minutes. Clearly Jody was higher in the same lift but once again I did not gain the height I felt I needed to (compared to the drift) and finally decided to come home early as a very strong gust had blown through and I felt that lift would be available on the way home. The opposite was actually reality as after 45 seconds or so of flying towards me in “come home” mode from far downwind, I realized that my plane seemed no closer but was in alarming sink and suddenly it was clear that avoiding the tall trees was appropriate as the tree tops rapidly converged on my model. My timer Rich took note of where it disappeared as I pulled flap hoping to settle her down somewhere unknown but at least gently.
Resigned top my zero score I watched Jody’s final couple of minutes and saw him put in another 100 point landing. There is no doubt in my mind that each of us has the capacity to be what ever we want to be regardless of our level of skill. What we believe in our mind is what controls our destiny and Jody has set his mind to be not the number one pilot at the Buzzards, not the number one pilot in Florida but to be the number one pilot in the world and he has the skills and more importantly the temperament to do it. He was rewarded today for his recent efforts with a handsome first place and he will continue to be rewarded as he strives for excellence and backs it up with true hardwork and diligent practice. Jody’s final score was 6973. Just 27 points from perfect. Congrats mate! Ray Alonzo jumped up into a fine 2nd place with 6529 points and Ed White completed the trio of placegetters with 6433 points. First placed Sportsman was easily Kris Van Nostran and 5th outright with 5829 points, 2nd Sportsman was Larry (happy) Squire and 3rd a gallant Chris Manley whos antics and skillful flying of an old Spirit kept us entertained today.
This was a fantastic day for Florida soaring with the return of MOM scoring and particularly SEEDED man on man which makes it so interesting and sheer fun as “anything can happen” right up until the last flight. I think everybody who flew had a bloody good time and since I heard no complaints all day we can only hope that CD’s in Florida venture out of their comfort zone and offer more MOM in the future instead of the boringness of the recenty preferred Open winch format. Thanks Ed White for providing the “Mule” which really made the retrievals so much easier. The equipment worked pretty well flawlessly all day with just a couple of broken lines thanks to Raeds diligence in providing us with the best maintained winches in the country. Thanks also for all the pilots who believed in us and travelled to the event and enjoyed something a little different from the norm. See you all in Punta Gorda in a couple of weeks.