Sunday, 2 October 2016

World Cup - st Andre les Alpes, France - Task 4 - Stopped and General impressions

It was as though they were willing me to win creating another ridge-run similar to the first day.. just shorter and more definite on a day where the organisers did not even want to go up the mountain which invited some hind-sight critique.  

You see, the task was stopped due to thunderstorm development over st Andre seven minutes before the one hour five minute minimum task validation time!  This was right about where three of us pulled away from the field by a few hundred meters.  I do not normally subscribe to the "could've, would've, should've, but didn't" school of life... my castle for the seven minutes that would have validated the task! Dream-on loser!  

Anyway, I walked away with an epic task win and thirteenth place overall in a place that delivered some of the finest conditions I have ever played around in.  This is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick I guess.

Yes, everyone wants to know about the Zeno, Enzo 3, and Boomerang 'Next'.

So here's a reality check.  
Fact: Luc designed and flew the Zeno onto the podium.  

Conclusion 1: the glider must be amazing
Conclusion 2: the pilot must be amazing
Conclusion 3: the combination is amazing
Conclusion 4: the guy lives there, he should have won on a Mantra
Conclusion 5: the conditions favour the pilot and the glider
Conclusion 6: let's have a look at the data

I chose 2, 4 & 6 in order to validate 1, 3 & 5.  The reason being that the glider looks fairly straight forward and stubby compared to the higher aspect of the E2 & B10.  It reminded me of the IP6 when Luc was fooling around with it on launch.  So, if it has benign flight characteristics it would be good in st Andre that required some attention to stay inflated at speed for hours at a time.

The data?  It is hard to compare glide performance in a place like st Andre given that you are being spiked by potent thermals all the time and there is nothing to say on the ridge except that technique obscures glider performance completely.

The third task does give us a better chance of comparison.  The glide to goal was into the flats from around sixteen kilometers out with a cross/headwind.  The following guys were in front together so I compared them from the end of the lifty section after the last climb at about 14km out for each:

Position # Pilot Glider Glide Speed Distance
2 12 Honorin HAMARD Ozone EnZo 2         7.6           52.6 14.2
2 37 Maxime PINOT Ozone EnZo 2         6.9           52.6 14.6
4 16 Felix FERNANDES Ozone EnZo 2         7.1           52.9 14.0
6 18 Torsten SIEGEL Gin Boomerang 10         7.6           51.0 13.9
7 11 Luc ARMANT Ozone Zeno         6.8           51.1 13.8

This one is interesting because, from what I can see on the tracks, Honorin & Maxime flew side by side as did Torsten and Luc.

If we were to conclude anything, it seems that:
1. There is something very wrong with Maxime's glider (did I mention he won the comp?)
2. There is something very right with Torsten and Honorin's gliders
3. the Zeno is up to a full point behind the Enzo and Boom 10 on glide

We would have to interview the pilots concerned to find out if this is anywhere near the truth.  
The data also suggest that two of the guys on the podium got there with inferior glide. HAH!

The conclusions that can be drawn resemble the routine of an acro pilot on LSD.  It is clearly pointless doing comparisons without dozens of samples if at all.

More to the point: Fly the damn glider and stop worrying about performance!

A simple logic check: what are the chances a low aspect glider will outperform the current crop of performance wings on glide?  There appears to be no giant leap forward in technology or construction advantages or we would have heard about it.  The much vaunted hundred-and-plenty-cell technology is slow out the blocks with the biggest gains being that of projected price point!  I'm told you can optimise a wing for a point somewhere on the Polar curve, but it seems unlikely that the Zeno would take down the E2 or B10 on glide through the entire speed range.  

Whatever the case, we are waiting with baited breath to see what we will fly at the super final and the worlds next year.  It also appears that the manufacturers may be playing cat and mouse with none wanting to release an inferior wing, so we wait until somebody pulls the trigger.  

In the mean-time we can amuse ourselves by speculating and spreading ill-conceived rumours.  Have you heard about:
- Piezo-electric lines, rods and fabric that tension the whole structure dynamically in flight reducing weight and improving efficiency of new air-foils and even harvesting power from movement?
- giant one-piece 3D wing manufacturing machines
- assisted in-flight wing trim 

It seems we have a lot to look forward to ;)

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