By: Mike Howard
7th Flight 30th Aug 2013 PM
Two tasks this evening with a scoring period ending at 2015 and the prize giving starting at 2100 some would think is just a little ambitious. You have to admire the director for squeezing as many tasks as he can out of this great weather.
FIN followed by a HZW with three possible goals to choose from.
Gusty changeable winds was going to make it a bit of a lottery. Balloons that took of right next to each other and flying roughly the same flight path ended up going in different directions. Getting into the first FIN became very much the luck of the draw.
Conditions didn’t change much for the HZW. It would be frustrating to see balloons less than a hundred yards away from you going in completely different directions due to the gusty thermals to know where to find the best wind to make an approach on.
In the end only 8 pilots made it into the FIN despite 60 of us taking off very close to each other and only 14 pilots made it into the HZW.
With 7 flights and 22 tasks it has been a very good competition and those that did well deserved to be at the top of the rankings.
Final results can be found at: http://championnat-de-france-2013.blogspot.fr/p/resultats.html
6th Flight 30th Aug 2013 AM
This mornings tasks consisted of a MDD, HZW, 3D Pie and a FON, to be flown in any order.
The forecast was for light winds so there was a option to fly the FON first while making your approach to the MDD which consisted of a 50m radius circle split into quarters where pilots had to place their baggies in opposite sections.
With the exception of two competitors everyone elected to fly the MDD first. The steerable winds allowed for some very good scores with the main problem being bumped of your approach by the cluster of balloons flying in at the same time.
From there it was onto the gravity drop HZW. Once again the steerage provided some very good results with many pilots inside the arms of the cross.
Then it was a case of deciding whether to do the 3D task next or the FON. As it turned out it really didn’t make much difference which one the pilots did first as the winds remained light and steerable throughout the scoring period.
Once the pilots crossed the outside boundary of their 3D task they had 30 mins to gain as many track points (flying distance) as possible within the area bounded by a 500m ring on the inside and a 1500m ring on the outside.
Once that was completed it was onto the FON, which had to be set 2km from the declaration point and was on the ground. The only problem with leaving this task to the end was the surface winds were becoming less predictable.
For this flight I elected to fly my FON at the beginning. I was only one of two pilots that did this. Not sure if it gave me any competitive advantage in the end as I was still flying right through to the end of the scoring period. However, it did give me some very predictable winds at the beginning of the flight allowing me to nail my FON target. Missing the MDD was a product of my own bad planning/concentration, but I still managed to hit one of the HZW. Only the results will show it my 3D was any good.
Rather than me listing the top pilots this link gives the total results up to last nights two tasks. https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1H-D1f4jjvFNkE5SGVCQlhIX2s/edit
The forecast for tonight still looks flyable. But given that the prize giving is also being held tonight not expecting much more than a single FIN task with very limited scoring area, which will also please the crowd that is expected.
5th Flight 29th Aug 2013 PM
Again lights winds are going to be the key feature of this evenings flight. A double HZW task with the same 8 targets to chose from for both tasks but with the requirement that you have to score at two separate targets to get two results.
Fickle winds at launch made it difficult to decide which goals to go for. 20 mins in to the flight a steady NE wind developed on the ground and a constant northerly at 4000ft made all the goals attainable.
The trick was to make sure you reached two goals before the end of the scoring period.
Expect to see some excellent scores on the results board.
Weather looks good for morning.
4th Flight 29th Aug 2013 AM
Six tasks met the pilots at briefing this morning. Starting in the top right hand corner of the map it looked like we were going to fly the entire competition area from top left to bottom right. Tasks this morning consisted of a CRT, HWZ, 2 WSD’s from the same balloon, a LRN and a logger FON with the same constraints as yesterday mornings FON.
With the briefing dragging on longer than normal because it has to be given in both French and English, it was going to be a mad rush to drive out and find a launch site before the end of the launch period. It didn’t help that we had to cross the Loire River with only two bridges. Most chose the southern bridge and got caught in the traffic lights….making it more of a rush.
Fortunately the morning winds were extremely steerable so any launch site outside the required 3km to the north east was going to get you to the target. What most didn’t figure on was the extremely slow winds.
Timing for the first tasks was as the best area for the CRT was only open for 5mins every 15mins…..unless you were brave enough to throw onto the cross which was always open. With the very steerable winds the target was covered in baggies.
The HZW took some time to get to as the winds were still fairly light. It didn’t help that the 1stWSD had landed between two of the HZW targets leaving the pilots with a dilemma as to which one to go for. Most chose the nearest hoping to be able to climb fast to find the right to get to the first WSD. The HZW was the first task of the competition where a gravity drop was required. Once again with the steerable winds the target had a lot of baggies within the legs of the cross.
As it turned out a quick climb allowed most pilots to reach the 1st WSD target with once again some very good scores.
Chasing down the 2nd WSD was going to eat up some valuable time and not leave a lot for the remaining two tasks, the last being a LDR.
Some pilots elected to throw away the 2nd WSD and use the time to do a good FON and LDR.
All the scores for all the tasks were up at the start of the afternoon pilot briefing but no overall results were posted.
2nd Flight: 28 Aug 2013 AM
Three markers and four tasks met the pilots in the briefing room this morning. FIN, HWZ (with three goals to pick from), a FON (with five goals to pick from) and finally a logger FON. The twist to the logger FON was that it had to be 1000ft vertically, and at least 2km horizontally, away from the altitude at which you declared the goal.
Surface winds were tracking 150 degrees with the 1,500ft wind tracking approx. 220 degrees. With that much steerage there was a good chance that most of the targets would be peppered with baggies.
Most of the balloons elected to take off north of the first target and ride the 1000ft wind in with a quick descent into the goal and then a rapid climb to track to the HWZ targets.
All the targets were easily achievable but the final logger FON had a lot of pilots thinking.
Having flown this task a week before at the German Nationals I had a good idea how to tackle it. And my planning was spot on. However there is no point in flying within 5 metres of the goal to then forget to press the logger mark. Finally remembered to press the logger mark 3 minutes later. Turned a 5m score into a 900m score…..Note to Self!!!!
Weather looks good for this evening.
8/27 PM FLT
The 2013 UK British Nationals are being held in Brissac-Quince France in the Loire Valley….where else?
For the last few years the UK weather has not been kind to the competition pilots so it was decided to come to France and have a joint French/Anglo Saxon (UK) balloon competition. With approximately 65 balloonists it gave the event good numbers.
A few pilots arrived in town early to get some practice flights in before the first proper competition flight this evening.
This year’s director for the combined event would be Claude Weber who had just run a very successful German Nationals. It would also be an event without observers. Instead we will be using the FAI Flytec loggers.
Once the general briefing was over the first task briefing began at 1730. Two baggies for two HZW tasks.
Pilots were assigned launch from a common launch point in the grounds of the Brissac Castle with plenty of time to set up before the green flag was raised at 1915.
This evening’s task looked like it didn’t require much thinking. It was basically a case of taking off, follow the crowd and hope you scored better than most at the target. Unfortunately this was not the case.
In the end it turned out to be a complete lottery with very little flying skill required. With the forecast wind trending to turn to the south-west, away from the HZW targets that were set to the south-east, the smart money was on getting away early before the winds veered to the right. But sometimes the smart money isn’t always the best bet.
The first wave of pilots couldn’t find a wind direction better than due south. This required them to climb to 3000ft to gain as much left as possible, get to the most western HZW target, then drop down fast to get a 2D score. This exercise was then repeated for the second HZW target.
The second wave of pilots pulled the lucky card and were carried much closer to the target with a wind that had shifted towards the east.
It looks like all the results will be scored with logger marks as no one was close enough to throw a baggie.
The fiesta pilots who took off well after the second wave of competitors could have nailed both targets.
Hopefully the morning will bring more predictable winds.
For results go to: http://championnat-de-france-2013.blogspot.fr