Hand Launch Contest Launches ’24

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Dan G, MVSA Webmaster

Four hand launchers braved a sunny and mild late winter day to open the 2024 contest season.

Wayne won Saturday’s Hand Launch contest followed by last year’s 3rd place finisher – Kevin with 686.9 normalized points. Dave Q came out as well and threw for 164.5 normalized points. (Full 2024 Season Results) Last year’s second place finisher, Rich S., last year’s 2nd place finisher, came out but was unable to fly due to radio issues. Randy L., new to hand launch, came out to observe.

Saturday’s contest ended a week of blustery days and the taunt of a national storm. Chatter on the club’s Google group speculated as to the “Go” or “No Go” status of the first contest of the 2024 season.

“There may a few flakes early Friday morning, but it just gets better after that,” Wayne, the CD for Saturday’s contest wrote. “The forecasts that I have looked at say that the wind will come up Saturday afternoon, but we should have flyable conditions in the morning.”

The unseasonably warm began with temps in the high 40’s topping out in the low 60s. They completed the contest before winds picked up making it nearly un-flyable.

On Saturday night, Wayne recapped the day on the club’s Google group. The following was pulled from his note.

Wayne opted for a smorgasbord approach to tasks – varying from simple “first up-last down – 3-minute task, to “5-minute max during a 10-minute flight window however only your last flight counted” to “a 3-minute task with up to 6 throws to get 3-scoreable flights” to “unlimited throws to get a 1,2,3 and 4 minute flight time – in any order” to “as many throws as you want and count the best one”.

“F3K is by its very nature a smorgasbord,” Wayne wrote on Monday, “having 14 tasks for CDs to choose from. We had gotten in a rut for the last couple of seasons by only flying task C, AULD (all up last down). I’m just trying to get our contests back to what is normal for F3K. The variety of tasks is what most folks find appealing.”

In round 1, Kevin rode the air for 90 second flights while Dave struggled for to break 60 seconds. Wayne flew for 2 minutes and 58 seconds.

In round 2, big gusts pushed the launching gliders downwind on the first flight. Dave was the only one to make to the landing area for points. On the 3rd launch Dave lost his glider in the sun, becoming disoriented. He was not able to recover his glider resulting in a crash with wing damage. The damage would end his day at two rounds.

Fast forward to round 5, Kevin, who had been scoring in the 400s to 600s for the past three rounds caught a second wind. Kevin flew for 3 seconds longer than Wayne on the first scored flight, 60 seconds in the second and stays within 10 seconds on the third. Wayne would come back in the 4th flight – taking the round with a 2 minute 37 second flight to Kevin’s 58 seconds. He would end the round with a normalized score of 862.6 – the closest round to last year’s class champion – Wayne.

Wayne takes the contest and the points with a normalized 1,000 points followed by Kevin’s solo effort, after Dave dropped out in round 3, with 686.9 normalized points. One down, 8 contests to go – the season is wide open with two new competitors and potential of a larger field than last year.

After the contest the wind picked up to 9 mph gusting 18 mph by 1pm and 14 gusting 25 by 3pm – a foreshadowing the early spring and next week’s first Thermal Duration contest. Six days out the forecast for next Saturday is rain early with sun later – 10-20 mph winds from the northwest. Like the season – it’s still too early to tell.

Editor’s Note: The photo used is a file photo from last season.

Next Saturday (3/9): Thermal Duration – Time and Location TBA