Bruce Davidson wins the 2009 IHLGF!

Bruce Davidson wins the 2009 IHLGF!

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After 11 long years, Bruce Davidson finally nabbed “THE BIG ONE” in the handlaunch soaring world – the Torrey Pines Gulls’s International Handlaunch Glider Festival. Bruce beat out 60 of the best handlaunch glider pilots in the world to end up on top. It’s been a long time coming for one of the hobby’s greatest proponents and best pilots, and now he’s got his!

Bruce posted a great write-up on the contest over on the IHLGF 2009 thread @ RCGroups, or you can read it after the jump below. But first, don’t forget Bruce’s First-ever, First-Annual Handlaunch contest, dubbed “THE BRUCE” will be taking place August 28th-August 30th 2009 at his homestead right here in sunny Kentucky! Sign up now!

Bruce sez:

What an awesome weekend. Most of you guys know that I got new airplanes about a month before the contest. I skipped out on lots of work to get in plenty of flying time before the big event. I had to learn a new flying style with no rudder and a plane that likes to fly much faster than I am used to. I had about 16 hours flying time with the new toys before heading west.

I got to the field on Thursday afternoon and quickly got things together to put up a few flights. I believe this is my 11th year attending this event and every year I am amazed at the strength of the thermals in SoCal. A big part of the IHLGF is the social aspect and seeing old friends that I only get to see once or twice a year. The other part that makes this a must attend event is the efforts from the TPG crew trying to stay one step ahead of us and ensuring every aspect of the event is planned out and checked off. I don’t know how many of you guys were there but your efforts are greatly appreciated. I tried to hit every one of you with a thank you while I was there and if I missed any of you I am sorry, thanks again for your hard work to make sure we enjoyed our time on your field. A big Thank you to Craig Allen for all you do to make sure all the visiting pilots have a place to sit in the shade and a cooler full of drinks. He puts out a great spread with about 4 shade canopies and an electrical grid to tap into and charge our toys. After a few flights and lots of catching up a bunch of us headed to the local rib hot spot for some cow and beer. Thursday evening ended with a few of us trying to keep up with team Kiwi and a bottle of Jack. That leads me to a very foggy Friday morning but lots of fun with a full field of like minded individuals and great weather.

This year the flying field was moved much closer to the road with a row of trees that came into play all weekend. The wind was a bit stronger than years past and set us up for some very challenging conditions. Saturday morning started our day with the first of many gut check flights. Task H, “the ladder” is a rough way to start because you either get 1000 points or 771 points or less, ouch. This is a task that should be reconsidered as the penalty is extreme for just missing a few seconds, I survived it. Round two was task P, 1-2-3-4. I missed the cycle on the first launch and had to listen to all the other callers talking to their pilots getting a 4 while I scratched out a 1 in sink. As a left hander I tend to launch with a natural arch to the right while the rest of the field goes left and this time it hurt me. The lift was already moving fast and they left me behind. My next throw was short of 2 minutes still in the sink cycle and left me with some free time to make a good read for the next launch. I managed to pick off the 4 and then the 3 to end that round with a 848 that was to be my throw away round.
Round 3 was task M, 5×2, I don’t remember many details from this one but know that I did drop a few seconds to end up with a 924. The wind was starting to pick up. Round 4 was task C, next to last and last with a 4 min max. By this time the wind was cranking but the lift was strong so I was flying with 2 ounces of ballast. The strategy in this round was not to let anyone get away and that puts the pressure on your caller. This year I teamed up with Adam Weston and he was focused for the entire weekend and some rounds he was doing everything except touching the sticks for me. We have worked together in contests many times and have a similar flying style so he knew when I needed a push. The huge lift in Poway was always followed by the worst sink you have ever flown in so chasing something downwind was a big risk and quickly put you in the hero or zero position. First launch we managed to get a good read and put it right into lift for the first 4. Now the pressure was on because the next flight was gonna count. We had a read on lift to the left but I held my plane until someone flew into it to verify. It didn’t take long before someone verified our suspicions and I chucked right into it for an easy 4. Round 5 was task E, all up last down. This one is another gut check with three throws that you gotta eat. On this task I watch my streamer while Adam studies all the other indicators and with 15 seconds to go we agree on the direction. With the wind you were pretty much committed to stick with your choice and we made three good ones in a row for the grand. Task J for round 6 is best 3 with 3 min max limited to 6 throws. I don’t remember anything about this one but the score so the air must have been good. Last round of the day on Saturday concerned me quite a bit with task B. Last flight counts, 5 min max. I have missed the train on this task before and got crushed but a good read put me into it on the first chuck and I walked off the field 3 minutes early with 1000 points. I try very hard to just fly the task and not get caught up in score watching so when they passed around the scores at the pizza joint I was happy to see me in 3rd. place with a strong throwout round. So pizza, a couple of beers and some ice cream and we hit the sack early for the last day.

Sunday morning starts out like a normal SoCal day with lift kicking off at sunrise and light winds. Our first task was E, all up and I had a bit of concern when we first got to the field but by the time my round came around the lift was great and I managed to grab em all. Round 2 was B, last flight 5 min max, I got the grand but don’t remember any details. Task M, 5×2 for round 3 and again I know it went well but not much else. Must be the whisky. We ended normal flying with task J, 3×3 with a 6 throw limit. I popped the first one right off. On my second throw I tried to go after some lift downwind and the sink was naaaasty. I landed way way of the field in like 45 seconds. By the time I got back Adam was standing there like the statue of Liberty pointing our the lift and put me into it for 2 good flights to get a 881.

Now to the finals, Adam and I did such a great job for each other we were both in and had to look for another timer. I tagged Lex Mierop to guide me through it. His first question to me was what are my intentions, to win, hold my position or just be conservative and get through it. I said we came to win so give me all the information you can and I will take care of the balls. After that things get a bit blurry for me so maybe Lex can chime in here. I do remember him spotting some big saves for me. I must have dropped a few seconds on the first task, 1-2-3-4, but I came out with a 955. I do remember in the next task, all up, on the second flight it was all sink and we were all down in less than 2 minutes. On the third flight I was just hanging right over head and everyone on the left was sinking fast. I look upwind and Jun was on the other side of the trees working some light stuff. There was two ways to get to the other side of the trees, launch over them or fly over the pits up the window and pass through. I was already to low to go up and over so up pit row it was and as soon as I took a right to get under him I hit the sink and nearly cried. I pushed on to pick it up low and fortunately the lift came back through the window and I had to scrach for everything as it passed over the field. It seemed like forever but it finally broke loose and Jun and I got the time, whew. I believe Oleg was the only other that got the time as he headed down wind hard on launch. Round 3 started with some big sink for the 5×2 task and I thought it was over when I landed way downwind and out. Fortunately for me it was bad for everyone else and I managed a 838. Last round of the contest was 3×3 and I started with a short flight but long enough to be a keeper. On the second flight I tried to catch up with all the guys that took it downwind and got pounded on the way. It was looking very bad and I was about land way out when all of the sudden I hit the biggest lift I have ever flown in. It was crazy, I was full aileron in the opposite direction and still standing on a wing tip going up so fast it was funny. It finally calmed down a bit once I got on top of it but what a ride it was. I finished that round with a 983. After the flyoffs I was hoping I just held my position, the conditions were tough and I didn’t think I had enough to take it all. There were some really strong pilots in that flyoff and some impressive flying.

I guess if you wanna hear more you should plan to attend the Pole Cat Challenge this year. I have some more fuel for the clinic!

I had a great time and it will be quite a while before the smile is gone.

Bruce Davidson
Team, we don’t need no stinkin rudder, Sirius

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