Monday, 7 May 2012

IP6 vs R11

Finally!  An opportunity to compare the IP6 & R11 in flight.

Autumn can be tricky in the NW province, but Andrew and I finally managed to fly together again after a prolonged break. 

It has been a while since I saw 100km/h ground speed on a foot launch flight and the paltry 2m/s climbs were no match for the brutal 4m/s sink.  We eventually managed to punch through two inversions to cruise above 3,000 ASL from Rustenberg to the dam.

For the sceptics among us who would argue that 'one flight a comparison doth not make'  please consider that Andrew (Smith) is the only pilot ever to have won a world cup event on a serial wing in the open class and, as my mentor and constant flying partner of ten years, we are finely attuned to our individual relative performance.  In fact, I can generally tell the difference between Andrew on Jameson's as opposed to Lagavulin after the first thermal. 

Andrew and I argue for hours about the dumbest things exchanging petty insults freely in post-flight bragging sessions.  It came as a surprise when we were completely in agreement about the relative performance of these two wings shortly after the customary exchange of (un)pleasantries.

We were both disappointed by the performance gap in all areas.  The only pre-conceived expectation that was met lay in the fact that Andrew was able to reel me in a little in the strong cores but quickly lost out in the dregs of the thermals as we topped out where the R11 floated away from him quite badly.  Andrew is on a par with the likes of LucaD, JeanMark & EricR in the thermalling department and has always been able to out-climb me in most conditions and on any glider but had to work to maintain in this instance.  The accelerated into-wind glide was just plain sad (40km/h headwind). 

Andrew's perception is that the gap between the IP6 & R11 is no smaller than his 2000 DHV 2 Bagheera compared to the open class and proto-gliders he was up against when he won in Montalegre.  
This is not to say that the IP6 is bad in any way.  She is probably still the sweetest wing around but it just means we are much further from the dream of having completely safe gliders with R11 performance than we had hoped.

I am hoping that this was an extremely unusual day where the variability of the conditions over-rode any equipment related gap and one could argue the IP6 is better than the R11 given that Andrew arrived home before me after grovelling 1,000m below me for most of the day, but there is no escaping the 'broken climb' and 'accelerated glide' comparisons.

We will do more comparisons and report here soon.