It's been a tough few days with lighter, more difficult conditions all around, but team USA has at last moved into third place after yesterday's task.
Gone are the days of 100 pilots in goal. With somewhat low inversions and lighter lift, the number at goal has decreased significantly. On Task 6, in fact, just one lone Japanese pilot made it in. Thanks to Bruce and John getting relatively close that day, the team started a campaign to move up onto the podium. The Italians and Czechs have all but sealed up their first and second place positions (although the possibility of a swap is still very real). But, third place was open to the USA, Brasilia, Australian and German teams. Only 30 or so were in goal yesterday's and Zac, Robin and Bruce made it in reasonably fast, moving us up into third with about 225 points over the Germans in fourth.
Aside from that great news, there's been much grumbling about guys making very dangerous approaches into the Esplanada on several days. I mentioned one such approach in one of my earlier posts, and they have continued. The field just adjacent to the Esplanada landing field has been approved for landing in situations where the Esplanada has many other pilots coming in at the same time. However, as this field just to the north is the first one you reach on a low approach, a few guys have used it because they couldn't make it in to the Esplanada and a few have come straight in on final, landing downwind having just barely made it over the buildings, trees and very low power lines.
Cid, the Meet Director, gave a warning to all pilot several days ago, mentioning that there would be no more warnings, that dangerous approaches would, from then on, be penalized. The problem of course, is that everyone wanted some objective criteria for what would be considered dangerous. Cid went with the "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it" answer, but promised to work on outlining some criteria. Meanwhile, the same day, two pilots came into the adjacent field very low over the power lines, one landing downwind. This was a day that many guys stopped short of going over the city and landed at the field at the end of speed section, having heeded Cid's warning not to make dangerous approaches over the city. Initially, the two pilots having what many considered dangerous approaches, were not penalized and there was quite an uproar over that, particularly from the pilots that turned back and landed at the end of speed section. Eventually, Cid decided that a penalty was in order and those two pilots were basically scored as if they had landed back at the end of speed section. At the same time, it was decided that although there was no perfect solution, the best criteria for what the Meet Director would consider a "safe" landing was the ability to make a circuit (downwind-base-final) approach prior to landing. Coming straight in on final and landing downwind because no other turns could be made beforehand, would be considered a dangerous approach and would be penalized. So, this is what we are using now and this guideline will be used for duration of the comp.
Here's a shot of young Brit pilot Ollie Chitty launching. He was on a roll yesterday and charged ahead, leading for first 2/3 of the task. We were all gunning for him to win a day and it would have been pretty cool given that this is his first worlds. Unfortunately, he must have pushed a little too hard because he lost it about 30km short of goal. All the girls were heartbroken.