2014 Region 8 Contest

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From June 8 to 14 the SGC hosted again the Region 8 contest for this year in Ephrata. Ron Bellamy (as contest director) and a whole crew of veteran contest workers made sure that the contest was run efficiently, safely and in a friendly spirit.

r8-1-400x231.jpgFour tow planes (initially) towed the 27 contestants into the friendly skies of Eastern Washington. 

There were a lot of entries from out of state, in particular from Canada, but only a surprisingly small group of local pilots. 


The sailplanes competed in three classes – a combined 18 m/ Open class, a combined Standard/ 15 m class and a Sports class. Tasks were mostly to the North and East of up to about 350 km.

June 10 was the first contest day. It just so happened that Google was updating its satellite imagery just when the field was almost done with the launch setup, which showed the 2 lane grid setup very nicely.


Unaware of the space surveillance the competitors enjoyed a nice soaring day. The winners for the day were Tim Martin (ASH-26E) for the 18 m/ Open class, Stu Larrimore (ASW-27) for the Standard/ 15 m class and Joe Steele (Mosquito) in the Sports class. All three turned out to be the final winners in their classes, with Tim Martin and Stu Larrimore never giving up their leads. Joe Steele – in his first contest – had to fight off Morgan Sandercock in the Sparrowhawk R (13.5 m) that had just been premiered by Windward Performance at the SSA convention in Reno but prevailed on the last day.

There were a few incidents worth mentioning. 

On day 3 Dennis Vreeken lost all electrical power and decided – without radio, FLARM or logger – to return to Ephrata. His cell phone allowed him to contact Ron Bellamy who then alerted everybody else by radio to his situation.

r8-5-400x246.jpgSomewhat outside of the contest, James Swank – flying Lothar Schaeuble's beautiful vintage K6E – accidentally lost the canopy (and his prescription glasses) at the end of his aero-tow. He momentarily pitched up and broke the tow line even before the tow pilot (Steve Northcraft) could release. James managed to make an uneventful landing. Next morning a posse went out into the hills and – following the GPS trace from the logger – retrieved the canopy, unbroken and virtually without scratches! The glasses are still up there.


The last day (day 4) on Saturday June 14 developed into a challenge for the ground operations. First the SGC C182 tow plane went out of action because of engine trouble, then several towlines were broken (fortunately without damaging any runway lights) and then a combination of gusty winds and ratty thermals around the release area caused a total of 10 relights. Launch operations lasted for over 2 hours but eventually everybody got away.


 Conditions further away were better even though 2 sailplanes (both Genesis) landed out and after 5 pm there was a steady stream of returning sailplanes. And after most had given up on him Kevin Finke drifted home at 6:45 pm, just in time for the generous awards and going away dinner. Brian Case worked away at the scoring and at the end of the dinner the preliminary contest results were available for the happy crowd of contest pilots, crews, operation organizers and helpers.

Another well run SGC contest.

Pictures by Kathleen McCrary