25 May 2006

Class I (women), II, V World Championship, Rest Day 2

May the 23th… Again the weather was uncooperative and the day had to be called off. Time for rest, friendship… and a few explanations. Quest Air airfield is set at Groveland, Florida, an hour drive from Orlando and Disney World. Here, marshes and lakes are a big part of the landscape. No hill to take-off from. So gliders have to be air-towed. On the airfield, gliders are lined up in specific areas according to their Class and ranking in the meet. Two setting up lines are organised. When their launch window is open, gliders can move to the launching line. They set their gliders down on carts and move forward. Once in the launching box, they lay down in flight position. The tug line is attached to their harness and the tug planes turn their power up take-off. All gliders are released at 2000 feet. Within the take-off window, they are allowed as many relaunches as needed in the case the tow line breaks or they can't get lift. Once up at 2000 feet, the pilots will fly to the start gate, a virtual circle whose centre is at take off or at the first turnpoint, and radius announced at the pilots' briefing. When the start gate open, pilots cross this virtual line and head for the first turnpoint. The race is on! All turnpoints are virtual, a 402 m circle whose centre is set according to GPS points. And so is the goal. The winner will be the pilot who will cross consecutive turnpoints and reach the goal in the fastest time. If no pilot reaches goal, the longest flight will win the day. Class I, II and V are kept separated as much as possible: launch lines, take-off times, start gate centres and opening times, turnpoints…, so there is no interference in-between them. For each task, points are given according to an elaborate formula where the length of the task, the number of pilots at goal and the speed flown are the most important factors. A maximum of 1000 points is given to the winner of the day. The World Champion will be the pilot who added up the most points overall. Teams have a maximum of 6 pilots. The team scores are calculated everyday by adding, for each nation, the points of the best 3 pilots of the day. The World Champion will be the team who added up the most points overall.