Any glider pilot can stay aloft when conditions are right, but there is a huge difference between staying aloft and flying efficiently. Creating a race creates a metric, or method to measure one pilots skills against another. A race also allows pilots the opportunity to learn about lift and sink – where the lift was on the day that they flew. The measurement appears to be done via scoring, but it is not to win prize money, trophies or even reputation. The true analysis of a days events is done by the individual pilots, in whichever manner they chose, so they can see what could have been accomplished, if they flew differently. Granted there is a vast difference between performance characteristics of the gliders, but more importantly is the vast difference in the level of knowledge each pilot accumulates about how to locate the elusive rising air and how to minimize their time traveling through the sinking air, as well as the basic stick and rudder skills that are part of flying.
A race allows the pilots to fly at the same time of day in the same general area, thus techniques such as how low they might fly in certain areas and yet climb back up again, or which route of flight they might choose to fly to optimize their speed and distance, etc are all revealed. The CD for the day should make every effort to share the flight records among the pilots participating on that day.
Racing serves a purpose. It helps pilots to understand the atmosphere better, reveals both the ease and yet the dangers of gliding far outside of gliding distance from the local airport. Many a pilot has reviewed the score sheet after a certain race, and rather than look with admiration upon the winner, merely conclude that taking certain chances would not be a wise decision for himself. Participating pilots use the knowledge gained on a race day to fly better, more safely, and thus more fun and more rewarding.
The VSA Race Series was started in 2004 here at WSC. For more background info and to review other years, visit the VSA page simply entitled – Race.
Details of the contest for this year
No details have yet been specified. At the Annual VSA Holiday party/ Seminar on 12/2/2017, our newly elected president Pat Alford said he intends to support a VSA Race series for the 2018 season. We’ll post info about teh series once plans are solidified.
The following is mostly left over from last year….
- The schedule?
This section usually specifies which days will be designated as Race Days for the current year
However, 2018 may be ad hoc racing. we’ll see. Maybe, when we see a good soaring day in the forecast or when we get a group of enthusiastic pilots that have been on the ground too long, then we unanimously designate a Race Day.
To be fair to those who need to plan on the drive to WSC, we should agree that Race days will be designated no later than the night before the race.
- In recent years we have not had a Contest Director (CD) designated for the Race Series, but if pilots can agree on a race, and one pilot agrees to oversee the scoring, then that overseer will be designated as CD.
- Task details will be finalized by pilots in attendance on the day of the race.
- One class will be raced, using the most recent SSA Sports Class handicap list.
- Either a Turn Area Task (TAT) or a Modified Area Task (MAT) will be declared.
- Declared tasks should follow SSA guidelines for regional competitions. The following sub paragraph applies to TATs. This is a small quote from a long set of task calling considerations that pilots should read. See contest rules on this link: http://www.ssa.org/ContestRules
- It is important to look at the minimum and maximum possible distances. In general, the shortest possible distance should be really short – about how far a pilot would fly in the declared minimum time if he maintained half the winner’s estimated speed. The longest possible distance should be almost impossible to achieve in the minimum time, requiring perhaps 150% of the winner’s estimated speed.
- The most recent Williams Turnpoint Database will be used. It is available at the Worldwide Soaring Turnpoint Exchange: http://soaringweb.org/TP/NA.html#US_CA
- GPS flight recorder will be used to validate scores, and a digital flight record will be submitted to the scorer/ office within 30 minutes of landing.
- Launch time is at the discretion of each pilot and the sequence or order of launch will be determined by use of the signup board if necessary.
- The Gate will be opened at the time agreed at the pilot meeting.
- Scoring: In the event that a pilot does not complete the assigned task, Distance Points will be awarded, since the soaring program automatically computes all points. Routinely 1000 points are awarded daily, however, since this is a single day, fun contest, and the SSA Winscore program may apply devaluation formulas for short tasks, or many land outs, the highest number of total points, rather than a total of 1,000 points will determine the winner.
- The Prize. The pilot with the most points is declared the winner, and is expected to tell everyone how he/she was able to win the day. However, the real prize is the value that each participating pilot gains from the experience. Analysis and conversations will uncover the truth of any give race day. Was it the kind of day that required a very high performance glider? Did the winner appear to operate with lower altitude safety margins than others? Did those with lower scores seem to fly more efficiently and get more out of the day, just because they were having fun, rather than going for max points? The Prize is in the eyes of the beholder.